Review: SOAR INTO THE SUN 알투비: 리턴투베이스 (2012) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Review: SOAR INTO THE SUN 알투비: 리턴투베이스 (2012)

RATING: 1.5/5

South Korea's answer to TOP GUN (1986) -- SOAR INTO THE SUN (a.k.a. R2B: RETURN TO BASE) is a big-budget blockbuster tries to replicate the Hollywood-style of filmmaking mostly found in any summer movie tentpole. It certainly has that showy and expensive look, particularly for its many impressive aerial stunts (more on that later). But writer-director Kim Dong-Won botches everything up with too many cheesy melodrama and mawkish sentimentality borderlined into self-parody. No wonder the movie ends up underperformed at the domestic box-office.

In this embarrassingly lackluster movie, the story centers on Jang Tae-Hun (Rain), a cocky young pilot of the South Korean Air Force's elite Black Eagles squad who gets expelled of the team, following from his dangerous daredevil stunt at an air show. As a punishment, he is immediately transferred to the 21 Combat Unit, which is led by Park Dae-Seo (Kim Sung-Su). Meanwhile, it doesn't take long before he makes enemy with an ace pilot Lee Cheol-Hee (Yu Jun-Sang), who particularly hate each other. Naturally, they prepare to engage in a flight contest to see which among of them emerge as the best pilot in the 21 Combat Unit. Of course, such genre movie like that wouldn't be complete without an obligatory love interest. Enter Sgt. Yoo Se-Young (Shin Se-Kyung), a failed pilot-turned-head of maintenance who loves to act cool and doesn't particularly talks much, even though Tae-Hun likes her very much.

Clocking at 113 minutes, I must admit that watching SOAR INTO THE SUN is seriously a test of patience. The first half is especially a huge letdown, in which the story drags too much that goes into nowhere. Most of the time we are forced to sit through a long-winded stretch of some lame romantic comedy (particularly the one involving Tae-Hun and Se-Young) found in Korean TV drama, and not to mention, many other annoying subplots. If Kim Dong-Won is trying hard to be funny, then he fails miserably. Even by the time the movie reaches the second half with a sudden change of dramatic tone, it's already too late and too little to redeem everything.

Still, those are looking forward for some sensory thrills will be excited by the aforementioned aerial stunts. The two climactic highlights -- the aerial battle within the city of Seoul and the explosive finale -- are undeniably breathtaking with swooping cameraworks and magnificent sound effects that they are best seen in a big screen theaters.

Too bad that's the only good thing about this movie. The rest is simply a monumental waste of time. If that's not insulting enough, the cast is a total disappointment who are all nothing more than one-note stereotypical characters. Rain, who completed this movie before heading off for his obligatory national service, gives an unremarkable performance who spends most of the time looking too cheesy or (ahem) cutesy. Sure, he does show some "seriousness" towards the second half, but by then, it's really hard to take him seriously. As for the rest of the supporting actors, the less said the better.

So much for a so-called movie specially released in remembrance of the 60th anniversary of the Korean War.

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