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Home > ‘Alienoid: The Return to the Future’ (2024): A Review

‘Alienoid: The Return to the Future’ (2024): A Review

Alienoid: The Return to the Future (2024): A Review

Prepare for Sci-Fi Fantasy Fun

Sometimes, finding a good action movie that excels in delivering top-notch action scenes and quality storytelling can be challenging. It is not uncommon for movies in this genre to suffer from weak characters who lack depth and for the action to be the sole “plot” of the film. Alienoid: The Return to the Future, directed and written by Dong-hoon Choi, works to remedy this issue by evenly balancing the action, characters, and plot in the film. The film is a fun K-drama action sci-fi fantasy movie with three-dimensional characters, thrilling non-stop action, and immersive storytelling that leaves viewers wanting more. 

An Action Film with a Substantial Plot 

Alienoid: The Return to the Future follows the story of Lee Ann, a young woman stuck in the past and seeking to find her father and the power of the Divine Blade to return to her time in the future. The film is a direct sequel to Alienoid (2022), which occurred when Ann was a child. However, for those who have not seen the previous film, the sequel’s story is self-explanatory enough to function independently from the first film. Most of the events that rely on background information are all recapped in short montages that offer simple and quick explanations about what happened. 

Besides that, the film does an excellent job of weaving important narrative points between action sequences. Unlike films like Mission Impossible or John Wick, these breaks from the tension do not just feel like filler moments where the characters are planning their next move or making business transactions. Each scene feels intentional, slowly revealing the characters’ motives and foreshadowing future events. And, because the plot focuses so much on developing each character, viewers may vary in opinion on who they feel the most connected to. This is quite rare for an action film to achieve, as most tend to focus primarily on one or two characters to develop. Because of this, there is a greater sense of danger that evolves from the villains and more at stake for each character. 

However, something that should be noted is that this is a Korean drama film, so there will be English subtitles. Due to the nature of subtitles, this film unfortunately suffers from moments where viewers will miss something significant if they blink. This especially occurs in the transitions between the past and the present, which aren’t handled in the best way. The only way to know that the events are either in the past or the present is by reading the subtitles. There is no fancy heading or large text separate from the subtitles to indicate the setting. This can easily make the story incoherent or confusing if the viewer turns away from the screen momentarily. While this may not be a huge issue, it can be annoying to rewind in order to understand what is happening.

The Characters Are Weird But Fun

The characters in this film are rather weird, to say the least, but it’s a good weird. The main character, Lee Ann, is a free spirit who isn’t afraid to stand up to a challenge. She has a personality akin to Captain Jack Sparrow from The Pirates of the Caribbean series. Like him, she likes to tease her opponents but is determined to do whatever it takes to reach her goals. This makes her a fun yet unpredictable character at times, and Kim Tae-ri does an excellent job portraying these attributes with her bright and colorful expressions. Mureuk is the typical clumsy but lucky character who can somehow always skid by amid great danger. Meanwhile, his sidekicks Left Paw and Right Paw, along with the Sorcerers of Twin Peaks, act as the comic relief with their jumpy personalities. Nong-Pa is considered the serious one that provides the much-needed balance between the quirky and straight-faced characters. While his screen time was limited, Thunder is probably one of the best-written characters. He is so mysterious and cool and seems like the type of character straight out of a James Bond film. 

Finally, the villains offer a fresh take on the alien archetype. When it comes to alien movies, there tend to be overused tropes. Some examples are when humans cannot communicate with them or when aliens use advanced technology to take over the world. Alienoid: Return to the Future takes an interesting approach where the aliens are involved with humans and can use humans to communicate with others. Additionally, their true forms don’t appear that often. Instead, they use humans to do most of their work for most of the film. 

A Mix of Eccentric and Serious Atmospheres  

Due to the nature of the characters in this film, the atmosphere takes on a mix of comical and intense undertones. Each character has their own unique set of magic powers, reminiscent of those in Avatar: The Last Airbender or Kung Fu Panda. Some of these abilities include jumping high distances, resisting gravity, using charms to clone oneself, or having heightened senses to detect danger. If anything, these abilities enliven the film’s tone, presenting the characters in a cartoonish and colorful lens. That’s not to say that this film does not have its fair share of serious moments and special effects. The CGI for this film is of excellent quality. The aliens have threatening and nightmarish designs, similar to the Demogorgans in Stranger Things. Each of them has humanoid figures, spindly tentacles, and faces without defining facial features, like eyes and mouths. The sci-fi elements like the robots, time rifts, and spacecrafts also mix surprisingly well with the action and fantasy atmospheres. 

Additionally, it should be noted that this is an incredibly colorful film. There are many effects, such as bright orange puffs of smoke, glowing blue and red weaponry and technology, lots of scenes with green vegetation, and costumes with vibrant colors. Most of the costume design is heavily inspired by traditional Korean outerwear. These include outfits like the hanbok, formal attire like dresses, skirts, robes, trousers, and garments that often include floral patterns. The characters that wear this type of clothing are from the past. Meanwhile, those in the present wear modern-day clothes like suits, polo shirts, blazers, or t-shirts and shorts. Not only are these costume designs ornately crafted, but they are also handy in telling the difference between time periods. 

Final Rating

Overall, Alienoid: The Return to the Future is an entertaining film that strikes the perfect balance among action, plot, and character development. Some of the action and characters can be a bit strange, given their personalities and unique abilities, but these aspects do not necessarily mean they diminish the film’s storytelling. It just means that the cartoonish behaviors and atmosphere may be a bit of an acquired taste for some viewers. For those who enjoy films that do not take themselves too seriously and are meant to provide action and fun storylines, this may be a great option. However, this may not be the best option for those who prefer action films that focus solely on the action itself with a more serious atmosphere. 

Alienoid: The Return to the Future is available to stream on Google Play Movies & TV, Fandango, Apple TV, and YouTube TV. The film has a runtime of 2 hours and 2 minutes and is not yet rated.

Alienoid: Return to the Future (2024) Official Well Go USA Entertainment Teaser Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Marc Agbayani's favorite genres to write are fantasy, science fiction, horror, action,n and mystery. His inspiration for writing stems from his love of various forms of pop culture, such as the film series Star Wars by George Lucas and the video game series The Legend of Zelda by Shigeru Miyamoto. In his free time, he enjoys writing, reading, listening to music, going to the gym, and hosting game nights with friends

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Cailen Fienemann is a current student at Le Moyne College pursuing her BA in English and Communications with a film studies minor and a creative writing concentration.  Though uncertain about her career end-goals, any job that allows her to write is a cherished one indeed.