Alienoid movie review & film summary (2022)

ytsfreeAugust 27, 2022

The sheer too-much-ness of “Alienoid” could have easily been wearying, given its many tangents and supporting characters. Thankfully, writer/director Choi Dong-hoon confirms his hitmaker reputation by balancing over-inflated set pieces with disarming screwball comedy and delightful character actor performances. And while bright costumes, shifting timelines, and pumped-up special effects may seem to be the most important parts of “Alienoid,” you’re really there to watch Choi (“Assasination,” “Woochi: The Demon Slayer”) keep as many plates airborne as he can. 

One of the main charms of “Alienoid” is how hard Choi works to introduce familiar (ie: American) science-fiction tropes to an ostentatiously Korean narrative. This at least partly explains why there’s a 14th century period adventure at the heart of a time-hopping “The Terminator”-style chase, featuring callous space aliens who stuff the souls of their prisoners into unwitting human bodies. (Choi also provides some helpful context here in James Marsh’s South China Morning Post interview)

Time, space, and logic are meaningless to these aliens, whose species, individual names, and general qualities remain largely undefined. All you need to know is that, in the year 2022, the smoldering and stoic alien Guard (Kim Woo-bin) and his flying robot companion Thunder (voiced by Kim Dae-myung) must stop an evil alien called the Collector before he can free his fellow alien prisoners from their human bodies. Guard and Thunder are joined by their plucky human ward Ean (Choi Yu-ri), who occasionally forces her two surrogate dads to explain themselves and their drama’s stakes.

Meanwhile, in the year 1391: Muruk (Ryu Jun-yeol), a hapless bounty-hunting dosa magician, searches for the Divine Blade, which is naturally of extraterrestrial origins. Muruk travels the countryside with a pair of mystical cat-people (Shin Jung-geun and Lee Si-hoon) who live in his enchanted fan. They’re joined by a number of competing seekers, particularly the evil masked shaman Jajang (Kim Eui-sung) and his implacable alien accomplice (Ji Gun-woo), as well as the above-mentioned lady with a gun (Kim Tae-ri) and a hapless buddy magician duo of Madam Black and Mr. Blue (Yum Jung-ah and Jo Woo-jin). Individually, these characters don’t matter, but together, as a migraine-inducing conspiracy, they’re pretty irresistible.

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