Critic Prime Video series ‘Isla’ – SerieTotaal
This demonic fantasy series had better be banned from the screen.
Everything happens in the South Korean fantasy series Island: demons, romantic stories, exorcisms, great epic monsters and, as icing on the cake, a handsome young priest named Peter Giovanni. From the first episode it becomes clear that it is not your average series, although this is not entirely positive. Island he knows how to manage to do too much and too little at the same time. What is left is a confusing whole that wastes a lot of time.
The first episode immediately begins explosively and demons quickly fly around the viewer, although a large amount of gas is recovered immediately after the first few scenes. What’s going on? There are strange statues in various places on Jeju Island. Symbols of the sacrifice of the gods to protect people from demons. Unfortunately some of these figurines break and demons are released. The design seems simple, but they manage to make the story as complicated as possible.
The series follows, among others, Mi-ho Won, the daughter of a multi-million dollar company owner who has a reputation to uphold. Ban is a demon hunter who discovers that the demon population has increased. Then there’s Peter Giovanni, a priest performing exorcisms who receives a summons from the Vatican to go to South Korea and investigate the demon outbreak. When their paths cross, it turns out to be more than a chance meeting.
The backstories of these characters are told, but they are too lush and extensive and too little time is spent on them. This creates the idea that the viewer is only served half a meal with a hungry stomach. The explanation is also flawed and complicated terminology is scattered randomly that is not properly explained and thus causes confusion. It all feels like the shyest guy in class giving a presentation, but always stumbling over his words. A rough idea of intent is communicated, but the message is not clear.
What then turns out to be a very strange and poor choice is to spend long episodes on subplots that add nothing when this time could have been better spent on the overall story. Also, it’s not clear for a long time where the story actually goes after the initial introduction of the characters. Lacks a sense of direction and purpose. Because the revelations come from flashbacks and from the past, the present seems unimportant.
In the second part of the season, this improves a bit, but don’t expect simplified stories because there is enough padding and repetition here as well. Also, the action scenes are okay, but they all take too long, so the installment runs out quickly. Later in the series, these battles are notably monotonous due to their frequency. What doesn’t help is the CGI, which is very inconsistent and often looks like a video game.
Despite the focus on the characters, they do not have capes. Ban doesn’t let go much and sometimes, aside from the accidental lines here or there, she seems to have a hard time looking far away during long scenes. Mi-ho is portrayed as a tough warrior at first only to serve as the princess in distress in later episodes. It’s a cheap move that seems to only be used to set up certain moments. The villain is also monotonously evil, with empty, meaningless scenes to prove it, while his backstory invites more.
There are interesting ideas, but there is a lack of focus to make anything meaningful or sensible from the series. The priest Peter Giovanni is a character to scratch behind the ears, because he is only there to act as a heartthrob. The season finale is satisfyingly epic in scale, though unfortunately half of it feels like the PlayStation is still on. However, they couldn’t resist leaving a door open to a possible sequel in a gentle way. Please, Peter, banish this demon from the screen.
Island can be seen in first video.