THE WEBER MOVIE COUNTDOWN
Time to add some more entries to the countdown, starting with #51, Pandora (2016), a Korean-made nuclear power plant disaster film almost undoubtedly inspired by the Fukushima nuclear meltdown in 2011. The residents of a small town with a nuclear plant nearby are dominated by the thing. Almost everyone in the town works at the plant, or else the various small businesses depend on the plant to get by. There are daily protests against nuclear power that are routinely ignored and dealt with. An earthquake hits which causes radiation to leak from a cracked cooling valve. Steps to solve the increasingly worsening problem are vetoed by the incompetent boss who only wants to protect the plant from being decommissioned. It gets very bad very fast, with a nuclear explosion decimating the town and causing thousands of people to flee, while the government tries to insist there’s been no explosion and not very much danger (!) The prime minister (Lee Geung-young) dominates the younger, unsure president (Kim Myung-mon) and things get worse. First responders are risking their lives with the incredible amounts of radiation expunged and it seems like South Korea is in a helluva lot of trouble. The only way to prevent an even greater disaster is for a group of already-doomed volunteers to re-enter the plant and set off a bomb that save countless thousands. Pandora is pretty hard-hitting and director Park Jung-woo heaps a lot of blame on greedy, ineffective government officials who don’t really seem to give a crap about the 17,000 in close proximity to the disaster. Effects are good, but there’s also a lot of humanity in this film, as embodied by Jae-hyuk (Kim Nam-gil), a plant mechanic who wanted to leave the town and start a new life somewhere else. After the explosion, he refuses to flee and makes constant trips inside the plant to bring out the wounded when firemen are reluctant to enter, putting himself in extreme danger. He and his childhood friends (everyone grows up to work at the plant) play a big part in the finale. There are some over-the-top hysterics and some scenarios where you will just scratch you head and say “huh?” but Pandora, despite those moments and being too long, is a good mix of disaster and reality and certainly not a ringing endorsement of nuclear power, which South Korea is extremely dependent on. Currently available on Netflix, which calls this a “Netflix original.” That’s not quite true.
TLA one-word review: predictable
THE WEBER MOVIE COUNTDOWN
THE GOAL FOR 2018: 200 MOVIES WATCHED BY MIDNIGHT NEW YEAR'S EVE! (AFTER TOPPING OUT AT 194 in 2017)
CAN HE DO IT?