Ashfall (2019)

A very long dormant volcano blows up on Korea, forcing officials to do all they can to keep it from blowing up again in a much worse manner.

This grand scale disaster film from writers Byung-seo Kim, Tae-Yoon Kim, Jeong-deok Kwak, Hae-jun Lee, and Joon-hyung Lim and directors Byung-seo Kim and Hae-jun Lee is one that is fun and fast paced for the majority of the runtime and then slows down near the end. The film follows a lot of the usual disaster fiction tropes, but makes them work for it in a good way. The story has a few surprises, giving the viewer some mystery and some twists. As it’s a pretty classic disaster film, the general feel of the film is familiar and so are the beats throughout the story, but somehow it works, so don’t fix it.

The cast here is a fun with our hero’s being varied in types and goodness of character. Byung-hun Lee is definitely the stand out here, giving a strong, yet nuanced performance that brings the viewer in and makes them care about his character who may or may not be a bad guy, and who for sure is a complex character. His work here is something that adds to the film and takes it out of the tropes to make it more than a disaster film of week. It’s his work that really sells the film. Playing his counterpart is Jung-woo Ha who balances him out just the right way. Also playing his character in an interesting and entertaining manner is Dong-seok Ma as the much ignored at first scientist who gets his time to shine. Of course, a plethora of other characters come and go, with some getting more time and all the performances for these characters work well within their parts.

Outside of the above, the film is very much a disaster film with a touch of extra, so the music is epic in spots and the cinematography shows the disaster loud and clear, while the effects assist everything. It’s a high budget film that spends its money wisely.

Ashfall is an entertaining, higher budget disaster film with a touch of Korean drama in there for balance (?) and it’s an easy watch. The runtime at 128 minutes does end up feeling a bit long near the end, but it is still a good watch for fans of the genre.

The Blu Ray disc release looks great with a fantastic image and sound quality and a couple of extras (making-of, character trailer, and trailer), so it’s pretty quick to go around the everything on there.