Pandora is a nuclear disaster movie without all the Hollywood hero frills. The characters react in realistic ways and – just like in real life – there are no quick fixes. Pandora is out worldwide on Netflix now!
I love a good disaster movie and Pandora certainly delivers on that. Usually, the reason I love disaster movies is the fact that I consider myself lucky to have avoided any huge disasters so far. Also, they tend to have a somewhat happy ending. In other words, they tend to take you to the brink of dispair and then show you the way to redemption.
Pandora, however, is a bit more complicated than that. Not in some artistic or symbolic way – though there’s a lot of relevant critique of government. The complications arise more from being a realistic take on things. Like the fact that people working inside nuclear plants aren’t necessesarily the first ones to say: Let me save everyone!
I love the fact that the group of childhood friends, who work at the huge nuclear power plant are honest in their reactions. As with all Korean movies, the runtime is a bit long because we need to get familiar with the characters first.
Pandora is almost too realistic
The four young men are working in engine rooms at the nuclear power plant all day. And a young woman, their childhood friend, works as a tour guide at the power plant. This is after they’ve all grown up with parents working there as well. And unfortunately, accidents have happened in the past, so they all know how terribly bad things can go there.
It really is like the box of Pandora. When things go wrong, they can go very wrong, and there are no quick fixes.
When an earthquake results in disaster, we get to witness every reaction imaginable. Yes, there are those, who feel they should help as much as possible. And there are those who want to get as far away as possible.
But, of course, the drama in Pandora starts when the government focuses on keeping things secret to avoid panic. A noble and believable reaction, but one that turns out to be more about money than the safety of their people. Fortunately, nothing is really black or white with Korean storytelling. Everyone has shades of grey, and there are good people in government as well.
There is an obvious critique of nuclear power plants after the disaster in Fukushima (Japan) following an earthquake and tsunami in 2011. And of course, these plants do tend to be placed in rural areas for obvious reasons; If (or when) disaster strikes, containment becomes paramount.
Don’t expect to guess every plot twist in Pandora
As with any movie – at least when you’ve watched as many as I have – there are things you know about the ending, within watching the first ten minutes. There’s the foreshadowing and the obvious stories of redemption being set up. Still, I loved that Pandora continiously didn’t get there too quickly or easily.
This isn’t a drama. It’s a disaster horror movie that’s very much based on what happened in Japan and what could happen in Korea. But unlike most horror movies, there’s no monster or serial killer. Or rather, there is, but in the form of a nuclear power plant going into meltdown and a government focusing on business and money.
If you’ve watched a few Korean movies, then you may recognize some of the actors. And if you haven’t then you’re really missing out. Check out our list of the best Korean horror movies to get a great start.
I’ve watched quite a few Korean movies, but only recognized a few of the actors. All of them worked really well in their respective roles, but I especially loved the “chubby friend” in the group. Unlike the typical portrayal of anyone remotely overweight, this guy was neither lazy nor a coward. He was all heart and action, while remaining true to the realistic narative.
Park Jung-woo directed Pandora and I really hope we’ll be seeing a lot more from him. A hardcore horror movie with an iconic villain and people reacting in all sorts of realistic ways would be awesome. And if you can handle real and honest reactions in a disaster movie, then pure horror should be a piece of cake. Park Jung-woo also directed the thriller Deranged back in 2012, but be warned, if you look him up on IMDb, you probably won’t find anything.
Following the recent success of Train to Busan in Asia, Netflix acquired Pandora, hoping it can win much love from audiences worldwide. Pandora is available on Netflix now! It was released worldwide on March 18, 2017.
Director: Park Jung-woo
Writer: Park Jung-woo
Cast: Kim Nam-gil, Kim Joo-hyun, Jung Jin-young, Jeong Jin-yeong , Kim Joo-Hyun, Kang Shin-il, Kim Myung-min
Jae-Hyeok lives with his mother, sister-in-law, and nephew Min-Jae in a small Korean town. He’s dating Yeon-Joo while working at the local nuclear power plant and dreaming of bigger things. Pyung-Sub works at the same nuclear power plant and is worried about conditions there. However, nobody listens to him until an earthquake strikes, causing explosions at the nuclear power plant. The situation quickly spirals out of control, leading to an all-out panic in South Korea. To prevent another nuclear disaster, the workers must return to the nuclear power plant.