In SILENT SEA (Netflix), a team of Korean astronauts travel to an abandoned moon base to recover research materials that could save Earth from a growing, dire water shortage. The result is a pileup of typical thriller and survival horror tropes. The series is overall fun and has some good ideas, though it’s far more Hollywood than what I’ve grown to love about Korean series making.
It’s the future. Earth is in dire straits due to desertification and water shortages, resulting in conflict, die-off, and rationing. Song Ji-An (Bae Doo-Na, familiar for me from her roles in SENS8, CLOUD ATLAS, and KINGDOM), an astrobiologist, is recruited for a team led by Han Yun-Jae (Gong Yoo, THE SQUID GAME and TRAIN TO BUSAN) to go to the moon. Their mission? Penetrate an abandoned research base and recover materials from a project that may be able to solve the water crisis.
The set up is cool, it’s Korean dystopian sci-fi, some familiar solid actors, count me in. The only trick is immediately a bunch of thriller tropes are piled on. The ship fails, they don’t have enough air, the highly fit astronauts exhaust themselves over a reasonable hike in a fraction of Earth’s gravity, the base’s systems are pretty broken down. The crew yell at each other but otherwise often don’t communicate well, with Song Ji-An staring blankly when she should speak up or even move to save herself or others.
After catching so many terrific Korean series and films like THE DOOMSDAY BOOK, TRAIN TO BUSAN, SQUID GAME, HELLBOUND, SWEET HOME, FLU, DERANGED, THE WAILING, and so on, I just don’t think it lived up to the standard I’d grown to expect. God help us if Korean directors look at their Netflix success and start to think they need to tailor their stuff to the U.S. market. Hollywood needs strong alternatives, not imitators.
All that said, I liked it. The characters aren’t lovable, but they are likeable enough. The pacing is a bit off, but once things get into high gear, it really rolls. The monster element is creative, I loved that part. The base is a cool setting and there are some good ideas. Critics and audiences seem to agree that this is a good show, and I can’t argue with that. Overall, it’s a good popcorn watch, definitely watchable, even if for me it didn’t live up to other terrific Korean movies and series.