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Doomsday Book

The end of the world is two-thirds terrific.

Rod Lott December 10th, 2012

Not based on Connie Willis' seminal sci-fi novel of the same name, Doomsday Book is preoccupied not with time travel, but the world's end. Telling three separate stories, the Korean film comes from acclaimed directors Kim Jee-woon (I Saw the Devil) and Yim Pil-sung (Hansel & Gretel). As with all anthologies, results vary; ultimately, this one ends up as two-thirds great.


Doomsday begins with the most fun of the bunch, "A Brave New World," in which a nerdy, horny young man is upset that his family embarks on a fabulous getaway vacation without him, leaving a long list of chores. Many of them deal, unsettling enough, with food waste. He gets ill, and I'll leave the fun of further details for your discovery. Pil-sung coats his horror story with heavy doses of political, social and sexual satire, lending a fresh take to a currently in-vogue subject.

Jee-woon delivers the middle portion, "The Heavenly Creature," choosing to explore — as the title tells — issues of science and religion. Taking place in an age where robot assistants are in widespread use, it imagines what might happen if a robot in a monastery claimed not only to have reached Nirvana, but that he is Buddha. It's an interesting idea, yet Jee-woon's treatment grows overly philosophical, slowing the heretofore consistent pace.

Finally, Pil-sung returns with "Happy Birthday" — a purposely ironic title for a tale in which a little girl "celebrates" hers on the same day as a meteor is scheduled to collide with Earth. While watching TV coverage of the impending disaster, she makes a discovery that rocks her world — what little may be left, that is — and infuses the film with a shot of large-scale absurdity. —Rod Lott

Hey! Read This:
I Saw the Devil Blu-ray review     

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12.12.2012 at 11:01 Reply

Thanks for the clip. Doomsday Book looks terribly exciting. My supervisor suggested it, but he never told me that there was a robot that thinks he is Buddha in it!


12.13.2012 at 08:53

I like it when Spam is disguised as a legitimate comment.