Thursday, August 8, 2013

3 Short Paragraphs + A Couple More: Doomsday Book

2012, Pil-Sung Yim, Kim Jee-Woon -- Netflix

This is a trilogy of science fiction stories from Korea, well made and incredibly well told. All three stories involve the possibility of complete destruction of mankind, via familiar speculative fictions means: zombies, the emergence of robotic intelligence and alien intervention. Each story has a distinct style and tone that lend themselves well to the story being told.

The first is Brave New World, a zombie origin story that starts with rotting apple in a research scientist's home. We follow the apple through the compostable waste system all the way to its re-feeding to cows. We the viewers know a virus is travelling with it and back into the realm of human consumption. As an analogy for Adam & Eve in the brave new world, its kind of heavy handed but as a generic zombie ground-zero story, its brilliant. As we follow the main character, the inadvertent source of everything, we are bombarded with the news flashes and responses by the media to what is happening, in all its lunacy. There is a tinge of farce and comedy as Korea quickly dissolves into a zombie state. Is there hope when Eve gives Adam an apple? Who knows as the point of the metaphor is lost.

Next came Heavenly Creature, a 20 minutes into the future story where household robots are common. It's obviously inspired by the Alex Proyas I, Robot movie as well as real robotic inventions this last decade. A repair engineer is brought in to inspect a servant bot at a Buddhist Temple. The bot has basically become the Buddha, a state of perfect enlightenment. The engineer believes it to be a fault in the electronics but cannot find anything wrong, but still believes he should bring the thing back for repairs. His further investigation is stymied by the arrival of the founder of the company that manufactures the robots. He fears what will become of humanity should they accept the bot as Buddha and suddenly the engineer is set between his own company and this enlightened (but soulless?) creature.

The final story is lighter, if the end of the world can be lightened. A comet is streaking (they always streak don't they) towards the planet and there is little time left. Our family is stocking the bomb shelter hoping to live out the terrible times after the comet strikes. But when the scientists show, TV up to the last minute of course, that the comet has an eerie similarity to an 8-ball from billiards, the young daughter is stricken with fear. You see, not so long ago, in a fit of rage she destroyed her father's cherished 8-ball, as the family runs a billiards hall. In desperation she ordered it online, but by chance a UFO was passing over at the same time. So, the nice aliens are sending what she asked for, if a little too big for the table. And the order cannot be cancelled.

As all anthology movies should be, the stories entertain and leave you pondering a bit. Considering we spec fic fans are fed an endless supply of short films via YouTube, it was nice to see some of the short ideas expanded upon as proper movie elements.