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Korean screenwriters have a fascination with time travel for the past five years or so. Korean time travel stories are commonly taken seriously by fans as hard science where time travel mechanics should be explained. Alienoid (외계+인) is a time travel adventure that is easy to follow and is a mix of science fiction and fantasy.
Guard (가드) (played by Kim Hyun Joong (김우빈)) is a highly advanced cyborg from a distant civilization. Together with his sidekick robot Thunder (천둥), they ensure the Paros (what the aliens call their criminals) they imprisoned on planet Earth across all times can never escape. However, time started to fracture when they brought back a baby from the past to the present.
Mu Reuk (무륵) (played by Ryu Joon Yeol (류준열)) is a Dosa (도사) who use his abilities as a bounty hunter, a profession despised by many Dosa. He learned about a bounty to find an object called divine knife with a very generous reward that can solve his financial problems.
Lee An (이안) (played by Kim Tae Ri (김태리)) was born in late Goryeo Dynasty (1374–1392). She has been searching for the divine knife for ten years and has learned how to use a gun. Her path eventually crossed with Mu Reuk (무륵) and together they fight the Paros who also want the divine knife.
The story is straightforward, Guard (가드), Thunder (천둥), and Lee An (이안) must capture or eliminate the criminal aliens who have successfully taken over their human prison. If these aliens acquire the divine knife they will be able to awaken their comrades and end humanity.
Time travel was also easy to follow, though they hinted there is more to time, it is pretty much linear in this movie. Time travel was only used as a literary device to trap the protagonists and the antagonists in late Goryeo Dynasty where magic and spiritual abilities were still practiced.
Anyone looking for a fun science fantasy adventure film, Alienoid (외계+인) is the answer.
The main actors for our primary characters are all well experienced in acting. They casted actors who can deliver the kind of acting that fits who the characters are supposed to be.
We have Kim Hyun Joong (김우빈) who played Guard (가드) and the many alter ego of Thunder (천둥). Many would recognize him from his recent acting comeback in Our Blues (우리들의 블루스).
There is also Ryu Joon Yeol (류준열) who played Mu Reuk (무륵). Fans of Reply 1988 (응답하라 1988) would definitely know him.
Of course, Kim Tae Ri (김태리) as the gun-wielding martial artist, time traveler, and Goryeo-born Lee An (이안). Her recent TV drama Twenty-Five Twenty-One (스물다섯 스물하나) landed her Best Actress (여우주연상) at the 58th Baeksang Arts Awards (제58회 백상예술대상).
I would not be surprised if their characters were written with these actors in mind before they were offered to star in this film.
There are two eras in this movie: early 21st century (2012 and 2022 Korea); and late 14th century (1380 and 1391 Goryeo Dynasty). In both eras, they paid attention on how they use special effects and the graphics design.
In the 21st century Korea they brought in the looks of a highly advanced technology. I love the transforming spaceship, it is similar to the Western show Team Knight Rider or the 32nd era of Star Trek: Discovery. (When are we going to have this technology in real life?) Another thing was the armor of Guard (가드), it reminded me of the Japanese franchise Guyver (ガイバー).
In 14th century Goryeo Dynasty they showed the architecture and designs of late Goryeo. The special effects for magic were kept simple and appropriate for the period. But what can be easily missed and misunderstood is the design and graphics for the aliens. With two vastly different eras, they opted to keep the aliens bare. I think the aliens are wearing some sort of an armor and they have not shown what they actually look like. This was a good decision as it made sure the aliens fit in both eras.
They should have showed more fight scenes in the Goryeo era since it is the main focus of Alienoid (외계+인) part one. The fight scenes and special effects in the modern era were great but those were things commonly scene in an alien invasion story set in modern times. What makes science fantasy very exciting is seeing the interaction of … well … science and fantasy. It was a good start to bring in guns in Goryeo but they should not have stopped there.
They should also be careful with dates. Lee An (이안) was still a baby when they met her in 1380. Yet in 2022 Thunder (천둥) said she came from 646 years in the past which would be the year 1376.
For Alienoid (외계+인) part one I give it 9 out of 10 stars. It would have been an 8 if not for the performance of the three main actors and for keeping the special effects appropriate for the Goryeo Dynasty depicted in the film.