on December 5, 2012
Zombies, robots and asteroids out of control! Yes, you've seen similar flicks on these subjects, but not covered in the fashion of "Doomsday Book"! The three vignettes in this film are markedly different, but each seems to flow seemlessly into the next, as we wonder how the world might end in each episode.
Perhaps the most enticing and maybe frightening is the innocuously-entitled "Happy Birthday," where a little girl calls up an alien website (they exist, don't they?) and accidentally ends up ordering, perhaps, the end of our planet!
A fascinating exploration into what might just happen in the near future; I recommend "Doomsday Book" to all adult audiences.
on December 24, 2012
Today, as I write this, is December 23, 2012, and we are still alive. If you recall, the end of days was supposed to have been two days ago, on December 21. Happily, that didn't happen - for now --, but the entertainment world keeps busy doing films about the destruction of life as we know it. Nothing wrong with that, I guess, but it is really good when a film with doomsday themes that make you think comes along - an intelligent and plausible one, that is. "Doomsday Book" is such a movie. It is fascinating and overpowering, with many possibilities to ponder.
"Doomsday Book" is really three films into one, helmed by two different Korean directors. The first segment, "Brave New World," directed by Yim Pil-Sung, hits you in the gut, and you should see it a couple hours after having dinner, as it deals with the effect of an epidemic a la "Mad Cow disease," when people become zombie-like creatures after eating infected beef. We meet a young man on a date with an attractive young lady, and how, after eating in an all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue, they get sicker and sicker. It follows the epidemic from the slaughterhouse all the way to the media frenzy created by it. And it is the media frenzy, I think, that steals the show, as it might remind you of the current state of the art of our media sensationalism. The second segment, "The Heavenly Creature," helmed by Kim-Ji-woon, is, in short, a masterpiece, one of the smartest films - despite its length - I have ever seen. It's about a robot that is member of a Buddhist monastery. He is the only non-human within all the humans. However, one day the repairman is contacted, because the lead monk believes that the robot is not well; apparently, it is claiming to be Buddha. The repairman can't find anything wrong with the robot, and the owner of the company, as well as his henchmen, arrive to the location, ordering the destruction of the robot as well as others of the same series, because it has become too intelligent and, thereby, a threat. The owner of the company asks, in regards to the robot, "Who could have known its greatest gift would become its mortal affliction? A robot must never construe or trespass on the domains of man." And there are, of course, philosophical answers to these arguments, which are explored in this awesome segment. The last part of the movie, under the direction of Yim Pil-Sung, and called "Happy Birthday," is about a meteor that will hit earth in a few hours, and the frenzy that it generates. The meteor is shaped as a number eight billiard ball, which coincides with a ball that a little girl lost from her uncle earlier in the film. Years later, while being in an underground shelter waiting for the meteor's impact, we find out the meaning of it all. Again, the director explores, in a hilarious way, the media frenzy over this event.
"Doomsday Book" gives us three stories or point of views about the future, at least two of them possible, and the other, with some imagination, might also be possible. It is intelligent filmmaking, not from Hollywood, but from South Korea. (South Korea, 2012, color, 114 min).
Reviewed on December 23, 2012 by Eric Gonzales for Well Go USA Blu-ray
on July 12, 2013
A three story anthology from South Korea that all deal with an impending apocalypse. While the look of all three stories is pretty amazing, the result is nothing very memorable.
The beginning tale is a pretty standard but quirky bit of zombie trouble. The recent zombie craze is nearly as overplayed as the "Twilight"-influenced vampire obsession has been. New idea time, please.
The middle story is set in the future and tells of a robot whose malfunction is achieving total consciousness. Sandwiched in between a bit about zombies and an object colliding with Earth, it's a heady, ambitious piece with a confusing ending. It looks beautiful, though.
The closer is about a little girl who orders an eight-ball from a website and seals the fate of humanity. It's weird, but I liked it more than the other stories.
The Blu-Ray is a standard package. I like the cover art as it doesn't feature the usual "floating heads" or crappy Photoshopped images. The extras are slim. The Picture Quality is very good.
on April 8, 2013
I had high expectations after reading some of the reviews for this product.Once I bought it and watched it, ehhh, it wasn't that great,but not bad either-somewhere in the middle. I felt like something was missing:more to the story, more character depth, more follow up after the events...For me it's watchable, but not amazing.
on March 12, 2015
EXCELLENT FILM W/3 SHORT STORIES. MY FAVORITE WAS THE 3RD ONE REGARING THE ONLIINE ORDER OF TH E 8 BALL.
I HOPE THAT WASN'T CONSIDERD A SPOILER. I TRY REAL HARD NEVER TO MAKE WITH THE SPOILERS. I TRY REAL HARD BUT IT NEVER WORKS OUT. THERES ALWAYS SOMEONE THERI SAYING ,"WE'VE BEEN NOTICING THAT YOU'VE BEN HAVING ALOT OF PROBLEMS LATELY,AND OYU MIGHT FEEL BETTER IF YOU'D TALK ABOUT,SO WHY DON'T YOU WANNA TALK ABOUT. ISAY THAT'S OKAY YOU KNOW I'LL FIGURE IT OUT YOU KNOW, I'LL WORK ON IT MYSELF.BUT THEY JUST KEEP BUGGIN' ME AND BUILDING INSIDE.
DOESN'T MATTER I 'LL PROBABLY GET HIT BY A CAR ANYWAY! MIKE MUIR.....SUICIDAL TENDENDCIES.
By their very nature, anthology films are a mixed bag. They'll contain two or three or four smaller stories - essentially `shorts,' cobbled together into one complete film - usually connected by one central theme. The upside is that, if the theme is flexible enough to support multiple interpretations, the audience is treated to an insightful exploration from different (and differing) perspectives. The downside? There can be several, not the least of which is the viewer ends up stuck in a loop supportive of that main idea where nothing all that original unfolds not once but twice, or thrice, or ... well, however many installments the producers managed to cram in there!
(NOTE: the following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and characters. If you're the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I'd encourage you to skip down to the last two paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you're accepting of a few hints at `things to come,' then read on ...)
Since DOOMSDAY BOOK is a collection of three short films, I'll break them down individually for clarity.
In the first chapter, "Brave New World," a brand new virus incorporated into the food supply by way of food recycling brings the city of Seoul to the brink of social collapse by turning its victims into zombies. The short is bookended with the tale of two young people who find one another on their first date - once the chaos begins, they're forced by circumstances to go their separate ways; as fate requires, true love will find a way, and our lovers are re-united in the segment's closing moments. In between, the story develops its satirical themes, showing us in some rather comical fashion, how civic leaders de-evolve while the rest of the world looks on. Technically, it's all very accomplished with some impressive effects, but, in the end, I found much of it fairly routine `stock' for a zombie picture. On my five star scale, I'd give it a strong three stars.
The second chapter, "The Heavenly Creature," a temple's service robot supplied by the UR Corporation experiences an epiphany, leaving the monks to believe they've found the latest incarnation of Buddha. The narrative focus for the tale explores the confusion experienced by the service technician sent by the company to diagnose whether the android is reparable or needs a system recall. This segment - from start to finish - is nothing short of brilliant; it's chocked full of exceptional, probing dialogue with questions by real people trying to understand these curious circumstances and what it means for mankind. Also, there's a wonderful little bit involving a debutante and failed her mechanical dog that explores humanity at its most crass. Technically, it's exceptionally staged and photographed with some images - the sight of the droid locked in prayer - that'll stay with you long after the story ends. On my five star scale, this one easily earns the highest praise with a perfect score.
In the last chapter, "Happy Birthday," a little girl hoping to please her father logs on to the web and orders him a new eight ball for his pool table. Two years later, an unidentified meteor is heading straight for a collision with the Earth, and, to her surprise, she learns what role she may've played in mankind's impending demise. This installment is a weaker satire than the first chapter, mostly because there's little substance to the grand `reveal' (which I won't spoil); instead, the story takes a rather serpentine route to deliver the audience to its destination, and it ends up being relatively routine. I do think, however, that "Happy Birthday" could've been stronger with more focus on the comic characters - it's a family, and they all clearly love one another despite their respective quirks. In this anthology format, there just wasn't enough time for it all to mean that much. On the five star scale, I'd give it a middling two stars at best.
The single greatest strength to DOOMSDAY BOOK in the three-story format is that the audience doesn't spend too much time with the lesser sections, making most of it feel fairly benign. The weakness - as I prescribed in my first paragraph - is that the directors delivered three stories of vastly differing appeal. Yes, they're all sci-fi, giving us a glance at possible (but not all that probable) futures, but when the first and the final chapters feel more than a bit incomplete, I come away not feeling I've seen the best these stories had to offer (with the exception of "The Heavenly Creature").
Still, I'd strongly argue that each of these ideas had great foundation for fuller pictures completely on their own. Granted, a full 90 minutes dedicated to the eradication of mankind by a magic-8-ball (not the game, but a legitimate 8-ball from a pool table set) may not seem all that revelatory, but you have to take it in context. I would've loved to spend more time in each of these visions, especially one where a robot uncovers its desire to pray, and that's something to think about.
DOOMSDAY BOOK is produced by Gio Entertainment and Timestory. DVD distribution (stateside) is being handled by Well Go USA Entertainment. As for the technical specifications, it all looks and sounds impressive, and each chapter boasts some very solid performances by all of the players. Also, I'd be remiss in my duties if I didn't point out that the feature won the 2012 Fantasia Cheval Noir Award; and was an official selection of the 2012 Hawaii International Film Festival, the 2012 New York Asian Film Festival, and 2012 Fantastic Fest. Sadly, there are no special features to speak of.
RECOMMENDED. You like zombie films? Check! You like thoughtful heart-tugging science fiction flicks? Check! You like end-of-the-world tales told with more than a hint of irony? Check! Certainly, each piece of DOOMSDAY BOOK is solidly produced; but, as can happen all too often in anthology films, these stories end up wildly mixing influences and producing varying results. It's safe to say that I would have rather seen each installment expanded and turned into its own feature - the zombie short had some solid ideas but methinks some of its dark humor was lost in translation, and the disaster from the heavens could've been elevated by more exploration of its decidedly quirky four main characters - because, in their present format, there just wasn't enough. Only the middle chapter - the robot who found enlightenment - was strong enough to stand on its own, but I would've loved to have spent more time in that inspired, thought-provoking reality.
In the interests of fairness, I'm please to disclose that the fine folks at Well Go USA Entertainment provided me with a DVD screener of DOOMSDAY BOOK for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
on March 12, 2013
the other stories were so so... the robot one was the best, enlightening and thought provoking, showing the fear and apprehension that we human have for other "creatures" that are superior to us.
on September 30, 2014
Three "short stories" in cinematic form. Something for every sci-fi movie buff. The first story is about a geek who goes on a date with a girl and eat infected food which turns then (and others) into zombies, whereupon Seoul goes down the drain. Ironically it is because of an infected fruit he put in recycling, which in turn was put in cattle feed, which in turn was served as food. (a humorous note: North Korea is blamed for the "biological weapon") The second story is more philosophical in nature as a robot with AI doing chores in a Buddhist monastery adopts the religion and becomes Buddha. The third & my favorite is about a little girl who is accidentally responsible, via the internet, for a meteor collision. The mindless talking heads of Korean news get roasted here and reassures me that America doesn't have a monopoly on stupid journalists---I loved it!
(Some people will be more afraid of this film because it's made in Korea than in the zombies that is in the film, but I assureyou that both the acting and the directing and the cinematography will make absorb your interest.)
When I rented this I thought it was one film about zombies and robots, which looked cool enough, but it is actually three short films by two directors with some amazing special effects, definitely worth the watch. It is all subtitled, something I didn't note upon renting, not that I mind, but I know some do.
In the first story, we have the beginning of a zombie outbreak shown from the point of view from one young man as he bids his family farewell for their vacation. Over the next three days, life goes on as normal, he cleans, dates, hangs out with friends; but then one unexpected bite from dinner makes him patient zero for the zombie outbreak and all hell breaks loose. We continue to watch as he inadvertently spreads his disease, and as others from the restaurant become infected as well. It is the beginning of the end, but he struggles to hold on to his humanity all the same, and that is what makes this story sweet. That along with it's ending.
Next up is the story of a humanoid robot who claims to be Buddha, so convincing is he that all the monks in the temple believe it to be true as well. A robot technician is called upon to decide if this robot is in need of repair, which his scans show he is not, or if he really has found enlightenment, which the technician refuses to believe. While his equipment shows the robot functions as it should, the technician determines he must be broken to claim it has found religion, and tells the monks in the temple he must file his report accordingly, that it is out of his hands; meaning they will surely destroy the robot. This is also a very interesting short film as it really makes you think, especially about what it is to be human, to think, to create and about religion and spirituality. This story seems pulled right out of one of Bradbury's books, very in line with his thinking. The end was also very, very great.
The last short is about a little girl and her family, mom, dad and uncle, moving into a bomb shelter as something huge and ball shaped plummets towards the Earth at such a speed it will blaze the surface and kill anyone unprotected. This story also seems an homage to the Twilight Zone itself, the story so out there and outside the box you're almost laughing but appreciating the possibility of it all.
All three stories were amazing and when I rented it, I really expected a B rated movie, so I was more than just a little pleasantly surprised. I was blown away! Highly recommended!
on March 14, 2013
Doomsday Book is an apocalyptic-themed anthology. "A Brave New World" focuses on a mysterious virus that causes a zombie outbreak; in "The Heavenly Creature" a robot is seen as a threat to mankind after it attains the highest form of enlightenment; in "Happy Birthday" a little girl purchases a pool ball from a strange website, and, 2 years later, a large meteor is set to collide directly with Earth. Doomsday Book is an excellent apocalyptic anthology of SciFi, horror, and comedy.
I enjoyed every story in this anthology. "A Brave New World" is a horror-comedy zombie story, "The Heavenly Creature" plays like a SciFi-Drama that speaks more about society, while "Happy Birthday" feels like a straightforward apocalyptic-comedy. All of these stories are interesting, fairly paced, and, best of all, highly entertaining. All of the genre elements this film utilizes feel fresh and distinct, and they work (i.e. the comedy is genuinely funny, the concepts can be frightening, etc.) The film is shot beatifully, and the special effects are great; definitely a film worth watching on Blu-Ray or in HD. The acting was spectacular throughout the entire film. I also enjoyed the music in all of the short films.
Overall, Doomsday Book is a highly entertaining anthology with variety, great acting, and superb direction. Another gem from South Korea. As of 3/14/13, this film is available on Netflix Streaming, although a purchase is highly recommended.
Doomsday Book has strong violence and blood. (including some brief animal violence)