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February 16, 2013

Movie Review: Doomsday Book (2012)

Korea has given us some interesting films in the past few years. Most notably, I Saw the Devil, which was brilliantly directed by Jee-woon Kim. Kim returns in this interesting anthology for the segment entitled "The Heavenly Creature." In this segment, we are asked whether or not a robot can reach full enlightenment and become Buddha. Interesting ideas like this and other what-ifs propel the three futuristic stories in Doomsday Book.

The other stories center around a possible cause for a zombie outbreak and an internet shopping venture gone wrong. These are all compelling concepts, but I'm not sure how to feel about the movie as a whole. I guess it would be best to take on each segment individually.

First, we start with "A Brave New World." A young man is told to clean up a trash room of some sort while his family takes a short trip. I'm not sure if every apartment in Korea has such a room, but this one did, and a little slapstick comedy is injected into the cleaning scene. We follow this trash as it makes its way into cattle feed, which causes a type of mad cow disease that ends up bringing a rash of zombism to the country. The story turns very violent, and an underlying love story keeps the short on track.

Next, we have "The Heavenly Creature." A robot trained to work at a Buddhist temple may have become fully enlightened, and it comes down to a discussion between a repairman and a monk over whether or not this is possible. To me, this argument could have been over any being, human or not. Can a person or thing become fully enlightened? Philosophy is used on one side, while common sense minded skepticism is used on the other.

The last short is "Happy Birthday." A young girl has a birthday, and to help her pool enthusiast father who lost his eight ball, she places an internet order that brings about the end of the world. This was more about fun than deep thinking. The story includes a newscast with an end of the world countdown, which is pretty funny.

Overall, I'd say this is a good addition to the anthology genre. All of the segments were well written and directed, and while the first and last segments had their silly moments, there were some good insightful ideas about our dietary habits, our own enlightenment and consumerism. It's definitely worth a watch if you're a sci-fi or end times fan.

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