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Upon first viewing the trailer I was immediately giddy to see a new
post-apocalyptic film in the vein of The Road Warrior. Being a fan of
the genre, one must get used to the repetitive "lone wanderer" theme so
prominently used. I figured this film would go through the same
formula, but prepared to enjoy myself.
Yes it did use the lone wanderer as a driving plot device, and yes it did bring the arbitrary twist. Yes all the survivors are short on t-shirts, but live in a wealth of leather and goggles. Yes everything in this film looks like and feels like a typical post-apocalyptia. But the substance of the story is far more powerful then I could ever have expected.
Without giving away too much, yes the film is essentially a Christian metaphor. Eli seems to be protected by some mysterious force, guided by "God" to head west. But it's what the meaning behind this admittedly bizarre plot that makes this film so great. It truly is a film about faith and believing in one's self. Using the dreary post-apocalyptic backdrop, the film is able to contrast this powerful message with the harsh landscape. Even amidst such despair, one can rise and accomplish anything. In a world slowly becoming apocalyptic itself, this message is much welcomed.
The other aspects lending to the power of The Book of Eli are its technical aspects. The cinematography is simply beautiful. Moody slo-mo shots abound with wonderfully toned colors. Everything looks dark and dead, the sun beating down endlessly on the dusty dunes. The soundtrack adds immensely to this feeling, using soft ambient chords and blasting action-scene drums when necessary. Overall The Book of Eli is an excellent film itself and an excellent spin on the post-apocalyptic genre.
Oh yeah, and Denzel Washington actually manages to pull off the part of a wizened, old bad ass.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Not sure how much the church was involved with this project, but it
seems as though it was funded almost entirely by the church. And maybe
Oprah. If not, the church should provide the people who made this movie
with free blessings for a year - or whatever.
This movie uses misleading advertising to draw us in. (which goes against the messaging in the movie....) What we expect is an apocalyptic thriller with a super strong survivor trying to make his way through life. We know from the advertising that he has a book he must protect - but we are not told that it is a bible. The last bible.
The movie progresses normally for about the first 1/3rd or so. And then the propaganda begins. Despite Eli's best efforts, his friend and the villains become aware that he has a bible. The villain wants the bible to begin a cult in his own name, Eli wants the bible because a voice told him to go to a place where the book was, and then, vaguely, to go west. He reads it every day. The premise of the film is that he followed the voices instructions, found the book, and has been walking west for the past 30 years. (it seems Eli could have used some help from Forrest Gump) The movie devolves into actions segments spaced between dialog about the bible and faith. If that is your thing enjoy. My feeling on it was that the acting was not bad, the feel established by the cinematography for the movie was good but overall this film was a transparent vehicle for religious cheer leading and not much more.
The Book of Eli has the potential to be a great film or complete
rubbish depending on your expectations of what is to come. If you are
looking for a film with some deeper meaning then I would not recommend
it. However, if you are looking for a film with beautiful
cinematography, solid acting and a little bit of fun action then you
will be pleased.
The key in watching the film is to not buy into the plot too much, which is where the viewer is going to be disappointed. The ending is a little far fetched and I couldn't help but roll my eyes. Although I honestly don't see a particularly good ending for the basic premise of the film.
If you are able to put the silliness with the story behind you, the film is wonderfully done. There is great camera work with interesting angles and framing; the set showcases the contrast between the stark light of the sun and the shadows where humankind is hiding; and the acting makes you want to buy into the characters and their conflicts.
I would recommend seeing the film, just don't get too involved with the story. Instead concentrate on the acting and the scene.
Everybody's talking about what happens after the apocalypse these days. "The Book of Eli" is sort of the boiling point of this science-fiction concept, a combination of last year's "The Road" and George Miller's "The Road Warrior." America is a post-apocalyptic wasteland and Denzel Washington is the only self-sufficient badass. So originality is not exactly "Eli's" calling card, but it clearly establishes its ruinous world and the Hughes brothers ("From Hell") take good care of its characters while supplying top-notch action. Washington stars as our stolid protagonist, Eli, journeying westward with his canteen, a large machete, a couple guns and a special leather-bound book. He lives on an Earth that was fried 30 years before by the sun because of a war that ripped a hole through the ozone layer. Sun-goggled bikers run amok pillaging, killing and raping passers-by, yet Eli is morally sound and focused on keeping his book safe no matter what so he can deliver it somewhere out west. Although written by a first-time screenwriter and former PC Gamer editor, Gary Whitta, "Eli" impressively creates its world between the sunglasses/goggles due to the sun's power, trading of goods because money's obsolete and the constant examining of hands to determine if someone is jittery from eating too much human flesh. Whitta also places Eli squarely in the story. He's a good but dangerous man who's not afraid to kill, and as he sits idly by as a couple gets attacked, it's abundantly clear that this is a world where compassion is secondary to survival and self-interest. Where the plot comes in is "Eli's" weak link. It doesn't try too hard to hide just what exactly the book is and that sort of dissolves some of the film's mystique. The plot is essentially Eli wants to protect it and take it west and he has a run in with Carnegie (Gary Oldman), an older man who runs a small town and desires it for selfish power-related reasons. Along the way, anyone who threatens to lay a hand on Eli gets sliced up or shot. In the two or three fight scenes where he takes down numerous guys at once, you can't help but wonder why after he kills the first few guys, the others don't run the hell away, especially considering people are otherwise in self-preservation mode living in a wasteland (and they know nothing of the book). The Hughes brothers make those scenes worthwhile, however. There's a style and grace to their action scenes -- they create a sort of a moving tableau in some scenes and execute a wide range of tempos in the action sequences to make them more intense. When Carnegie's men encounter Eli and the young woman (Mila Kunis) that he inspires who follows him at the home of some old folks (cameos by famous Brits Frances De La Tour and Michael Gambon), they place the camera in the middle of the action and sweep along with the gunfire (part- digitally) from one side to the other. It's very cool and is an example of one way the Hugheses keep the focus away from the plot's shaky skeleton. I only have beef with their excessive slow-motion walking-toward-the-camera shots and showing a bit too much of the cloudy green-gray sky. Some people are going to be more surprised and impressed with the film's big reveal than others, but anyone with a love of action and that post-apocalyptic context will find something to make "Eli" a worthwhile watch regardless of plot weakness. Washington is slightly under-utilized but he's an ideal fit. He brings an intensity in his demeanor that makes him an intriguing character and the film does a good job of making his character more central than anything else. ~Steven C
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have to agree with one reviewer that stated the movie should have ended with the shot of Eli's eyes. Solara becoming the next warrior is ridiculous. The actors were fine but why doesn't Denzel Washington realize that most of the movie doesn't make sense. He uses his bow in the first scene and takes the arrow. After that we don't see where he carries his bow until he needs it later in the film. He has his backpack emptied a couple of times and no shells for his guns or bow is seen. After killing the 2 guys he didn't take his arrows. Eli then tells Solara to take down the bow and wind up the bowstring and he is carrying 1 arrow. In the next scene the bow and arrow are absent. In the opening scene the sky is ominous and an eerie green with particles falling from the sky. At the end of the movie Alcatraz has blue skies, clouds and grass. Am I expected to think it took Eli 30 years to walk across the US? Were those plastic wrapped twinkies that he was sharing with Solara? How would they have tasted 30 years later? Would someone explain how he got out of the locked room (I missed that part)? The house where they were in the shootout with Carnegie and his henchmen was completely full of bullet holes except where the old couple and Eli/Solara were standing. When Solara causes the vehicle she's in to crash how does Eli's blade (which was on the dashboard) get embedded completely to the hilt in Redridge's chest? Is the woman hijacker (with the grocery cart) the same as the second one nearer to the end of the movie? If so how does she get a new gang (since Eli has killed all of her first friends) and get further down the road towards Alcatraz for Solara and Eli to meet again? To have the same ambush using a woman crying with a grocery cart seems lazy to me. Now after dictating the entire bible (with a big hole in his gut/chest) the bible is printed, leather bound and gold leafed only to be placed on a shelf where no one is going to read it. I'm glad for those who enjoyed the movie. It just has too many questionable and unbelievable scenes which caused my frustration. And I wish people would stop comparing this sham of a movie to 'The Road'.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I am always hesitant when movies come out in January or February. The
Oscar buzz is about last year's performances and the summer
blockbusters are still five months away. So, when movies come out this
time of the year there is a distinct possibility that the movie is
going to have a weak story line and sub par acting. This is not the
case with "The Book of Eli." For a January movie it exceeded my
I have respect for both Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman and their choice of past roles. Gary's role in this film was that of the old bad guy running a small western front town 30 years after a nuclear war (I am assuming it was nuclear war, they only vaguely described what happened). He sends his traveling bandits out of town to find the last Bible on earth. He does this because with the last Bible on earth he can reestablish civilization under his reign. It does seem far-fetched but then again it is a January movie so I will cut it some slack. Gary did a great job, reminded me a little of his bad guy character in "The Professional," but he wasn't over the top with his acting, only when he needed to be.
On to Denzel, who did another great job. He reminded me of Clint Eastwood in his western movies where he didn't say much because he didn't have to. Denzel's actions spoke for him. That leads us into the action sequences. The Hughes Brothers delivered the action with a wallop and without a lot of blood and guts. The first fight scene looked like five silhouettes fighting a shadow of a man. There's also a shoot out scene where they used some pretty innovative camera shots to put the viewer into the action. The action was quick and to the point and just as important, it was memorable.
We covered the actors and the action, so what about the story? The story could have taken place in the Old West just as it could have taken place in an apocalyptic future. It was simple and didn't have many confusing elements to it. The premise was to get that Bible. Denzel's job was to head west to deliver the last copy of the Bible to someone. He does everything in his power to protect the book. Since the Bible is the main focus of the hunt there are some religious overtones but nothing too heavy. There is also a good use of humor, something totally unexpected considering the drabness of the film.
The camera helped in telling much of the story. Through much of the movie the camera and landscape was all that was needed to carry key elements in the story. In one scene Mila Kunis' character was attacked and instead of talking about it afterward, the camera took time to focus on her reaction to the situation. There are also several shots of Denzel walking in the desolation showing the audience the ruined landscape. Dialogue couldn't have added much more.
Should you see this movie? Yes. Even though it won't get Oscar nods or be the next big summer blockbuster, it will still keep most people entertained. The ending might make you want to see it a second time to see what you missed the first time. All I am saying is keep your eyes open.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Well, I went to see this film last night not knowing much about the actual plot of it. The start was promising, with some great fight scenes and on the whole, it was well filmed with some great cinematography. Washington played his role well, as did Oldman as Carnegie, however Mila Kunis who anyone who watches 'Family Guy' could tell was the voice of Meg Griffin wasn't good at all. The fact she is the voice of Meg also made me unable to take her seriously, but thats probably just me. I enjoyed the film at the start up until it becomes apparent that 'the book' is in fact the Bible. The fact that the whole film was based around this alienated a lot of people who may be atheist or even if they were Christian, as it was completely hypocritical that Eli killed maybe 100s of people in order to keep the book. Is this in-keeping with Christianity? Well, now the ending. It just about had it for me when we found out that Eli was blind. This put the great fighting scenes that i mentioned earlier in a poorer light for me, as we realised he was supposed to be fighting several people single handedly whilst blind?? Completely ridiculous. as was the fact that he was shot in the stomach, and then 5 minutes later back on the road with some duck tape over the wound. On the whole, its maybe worth seeing if you don't mind contradictory and frankly ridiculous plot twists, hearing Meg Griffin's voice throughout a supposedly tense and serious film and of course, if you don't mind killing 100s of people for the possession of a Bible written in braille.
You might be jaded already with a number of big budgeted science
fiction films that are set after some apocalyptic disaster that wiped
out most of humankind, and having the protagonist become some sole,
lonely survivor up against others who have banded together for worse,
and without law and order and faced with severely limited resources to
survive, cannibalism in a wild wild west environment becomes the order
of the day, with those having weapons commanding over those who don't,
and a clean bed, warm food, women and clean water are precious,
I assure you that The Book of Eli, despite what so many others have said, remain refreshing, with Denzel Washington in a charismatic starring role opposite Gary Oldman back to his villainous best, both being top draws in the film. Written by Gary Whitta who had fused key religious elements into science fiction, his effort triumphs against recent others such as Legion, and gets a better execution by the Hughes Brothers Albert and Allen who are sorely missed since their last film From Hell some 9 years ago, a film I enjoyed (despite the butchery here), bringing back their signature way of telling a tale through dark, brooding atmospheres. The first few minutes of the film which introduces Washington's Eli, is nothing short of brilliance relying solely on his enigmatic, silent presence, clearly surpassing that of Will Smith's turn in I Am Legend.
Washington's Eli is what carries the film, a man fixated in his sole mission for some 30 years already, doing so based on one word - faith and a vision and instruction given unto him. He's the modern day missionary, executing his god-given task without question, believing that he fulfills his calling with as little fuss as possible. He truly believes that he's being protected from harm, and of course that also meant through the use of a shotgun, pistol and one hack of a machete (pardon the pun and intentional misspelling), dispatching bandits like spreading butter on warm toast. As such he's indestructible almost, giving himself some reputation into a small town he wanders into, especially when he has in him a possession of the titular book that seems to hold the hope to mankind's salvation.
And Gary Oldman's Carnegie is the anti-thesis to Eli the messenger. For Carnegie, possession of the book is key for his power consolidation, because being able to influence the weak, the desperate and those in despair, would translate to loyal obedience. And in some ways this is quite true, in the way the power and influence religion has over the masses. In fact, Carnegie's explanation to Eli on the need for the book, is something which you'll find hard to dispute about, because even if one aspires to be a false prophet, one will require firstly the scriptures from which to twist from, since groping verses from the air just doesn't cut it even to the simple minded.
As seen in films like There Will Be Blood, false prophets are abound, and this is one of the stronger aspects of the film blatantly made so explicit. You cannot help but to think about the same concept in today's context, where one's perceived knowledge and ability would bring about tremendous power and followers because of the seeding of hope and salvation in one's mind, and top marks given if one can influentially enslave the mindsets of desperate others through faith, something which Eli also has problems trying to explain to his new follower of sorts, Solara (Mila Kunis).
For action junkies, you'll not be left out by the handful of battle sequences, where the hand to hand combat scenes have Washington showing off what he had learnt from a student of Bruce Lee, and reportedly doing so without the use of a stunt double. And if slicing and dicing opponents in close quarter combat is not your cup of team, there are also those which are laden with gun fights that just rip everything apart in their way, although I prefer the more elegant alternative of the use of the bow and arrows, with the Hughes Brothers knowing a thing or two about shooting proper action sequences that you can actually follow comfortably.
Testosterone-laden action aside, In some ways the film also touches upon the importance of culture, without which we're reduced to nothing but savages, knowledge being buried in books and encyclopedias that no longer exist save for those still in collective memory. The final act, together with its sucker punch makes it all the more satisfying and poignant even, giving you compelling reason to want to watch this a second time with that little bit of background knowledge to observe performance and nuances that had probably gone unnoticed. That said, there are still a minor loophole here and there, but as Eli puts it, it's accredited to nothing more than faith. Highly recommended!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Well, I love apocalyptic movies, because the possibilities to make a
good movie are endless. Add to that a "lone wolf" character roaming the
wasteland, and things can get even better.
But, what can we do when these Hollywood geniuses decide to dumb down the story to such a low level?
First of all, the Bible is one of the most printed books of human history one can find a copy of it anywhere. If one can find a shotgun and shells, rockets, ray-ban sunglasses, and other things shown in the movie, I am sure that it would be very easy to find a copy of a Bible. OK, maybe the film was an allegory. But still this is plain stupid.
Second, how a Bible would help humans in a post-apocalyptic world? People will need books on agriculture, medicine, metallurgy, etc... It is idiotic to think that all humans need is religion to straighten things out.
Third, with a name like that "Eli" one can guess which is the secret book in the first 30 seconds of the movie...
Fourth, since the book is the Bible how come our "hero", the harbinger of the sacred word, is willing to kill for it? Don't those guys ever learn? What about that message of brotherly love, turn the other face, etc, etc, etc... Only a few chose are deserving of salvation? Come on...
The only positive thing in the movie is that the "Book of Eli" was not the Quran. In these politically correct times we do not know what to expect any more....
The first thing that strikes you about this film is how horrid and
beautiful it looks all at the same time. We are in a post-apocalyptic
world of washed out colours, destroyed structures and dying people
scrabbling to make sure they are not the next to die; and it is a world
that is really well designed and really well filmed by Don Burgess.
Everything looks convincing and it doesn't feel like they just shot it
out in a desert location, it genuinely feels like a scorched earth. The
only slight irritant about the look of the film is that it does feel
very much like a great copy of the world of Fallout 3 as created by
Bethseda right down to the design of the "bandits" with their goggles
and ragged clothing; this bugged me and those very familiar with this
world via gaming may also feel the film is "borrowing" rather than
I talk about the look and style of the film first because to me it is really one of the main reasons to watch this film and indeed for the first 20 minutes or so, it is all we are drifting on this sense of the cool and the barren without much in the way of who's or why's. Unfortunately when the plot does start to come in, it does so with a terribly corny story and message that wouldn't be out of place in one of those overly-earnest low-budget films made by Christian companies. Indeed this is what this film is an overly earnest religious film, it just happens to have cost millions and have massive Hollywood stars involved in it. Now, this is the point where you assume that I dislike the film because it is to do with God and the bible, but this wasn't it all at it didn't help for sure, but this isn't the reason.
The main problem I have is that the film doesn't actually seem interested in making this message work and the plot just seems like a necessary evil to get the character walking in slow-mo around this cool landscape. There isn't much development beyond the basic dialogue about the power of this book and it is nothing but endless corn in the main; I may have respected it more if it had done something with the content, but it doesn't, indeed it seems almost embarrassed by it. The Hughes Brothers for sure aren't particularly interested in that and thus the performances and shots are all about the style, the atmosphere and the look of the film. Accordingly the cast do the same which is fine because I wonder why they were all queuing up to be in this story. Washington is a great lead because he is all style and presence and he fits the landscape well. Kunis' character makes less sense as she goes on but she is stunning to look at and again fits the style aspect of the film. Oldman's villain is poor and as a result he is only OK.
What all this leaves then is a film that should be watched by fans of Fallout 3 and New Vegas, simply because it is a great film recreation of those worlds, from the colour of the sky down to the costumes it feels and looks like the games. Outside of this though, the casual viewer is left with very little of interest going on behind the style; the story is cloyingly religious and lacking any insight or intelligence in terms of writing it feels like having two guys at your door trying to sell Jesus to you with platitudes and clichés. It all looks fantastic but unfortunately the script simply doesn't deserve the visuals.
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