Anthology films are always exciting to me because you never know what you’re gonna get with any given tale. Even though they’re usually mediocre to decent, there’s just something about them that I enjoy diving into to see what the group of filmmakers are going to explore, through certain themes or genres. Doomsday Book is a sci-fi anthology by Kim Ji-Woon and Yim Pil-Sung that explores mankind’s downfall, in various forms. A Brave New World finds Ryu Seung-Beom as a research scientist that must face a zombie apocalypse, that he inadvertently creates from a rotted apple. Heavenly Creature gives us an Issac Assimov-like tale about an android that has worked in a Buddhist temple, that has supposedly achieved enlightenment. The final segment, Happy Birthday finds a young girl that causes a meteor to crash into the Earth, after she accidentally tells some aliens to do so, when trying to buy an 8-Ball that she lost for her father. Only one of the segments was really great, but the other two segments had enough elements in them to ultimately make Doomsday Book a worthwhile viewing.
I absolutely adore Ryu Seung-Beom as an actor and he’s one of the main reasons why A Brave New World works for the first half of it. His comedic delivery and interactions with people are really great and he’s charming enough to carry it. The set up of the zombie apocalypse in A Brave New World is an interesting one, with it being spread like Mad Cow disease. Once people start turning into zombies, the segment quickly turns into a standard zombie story, with no real edge to enhance the zombie genre.
The only segment by Kim Ji-Woon, Heavenly Creature, was hands down the best segment and well worth the price of admission. While the pacing is extremely slow at first, the exploration of an AI finding spiritual enlightenment was a fascinating one. The heated exchanges between the characters and the android at the end of the segment really dive into some intimate discussions about faith, existence and the ever changing world of technology we live in. The production design for the segment was really impressive, from the Buddhist temple, to the living quarters of the repair man, that make the film look extremely elegant and truly shine. The design of the RU4 robot is also a nice touch of using practical effects over CGI, that show that practical effects truly help selling an idea, more so than CGI.
Happy Birthday is the funniest segment out of all three and only gets bogged down by its story more than anything. The story revolves around the family that goes inside a bunker, once their daughter accidentally causes the meteor to land. While there’s a few moments of the family handling the situation in a way that causes a few laughs, it feels severely under developed. The best part in the segment deals with a newscast that the family is watching, 20 minutes before the meteor hits. It shows a hilarious exchange between the two main anchors, who are an item and some great moments of the Weather Lady getting her due. It makes for some real great laughs and gives the final segment enough to even it out with its lackluster story.
While there were some stories that were better than others, I still had a wonderful time watching Doomsday Book. The weak elements in some of the stories are certainly eclipsed by the finer points in this anthology and since sci-fi anthology’s are pretty hard to come by, or any anthology’s for that matter, you’d do yourself a service by checking out Doomsday Book, at least once. Recommended!
Doomsday Book is available now on Blu-Ray from Well Go USA