Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Book of Eli (2012)

Book of EliThe Book of Eli is a vastly underappreciated film that mixes martial arts swordsmanship, a post-apocalyptic setting, and a biblical narrative.

A war, over thirty years ago, killed off many people in the United States. Others were blinded from the blast. This creates an interesting disparity between those over thirty years of age who received an education and those under thirty who know nothing of the modern world (at one point, one of the thugs asks, "What's a television?").

This is an unpleasant world. Cannibalistic brigands ambush unwary travelers, identifiable by their shaking hands. Water is at a premium. Batteries are hard to find. The Book of Eli makes it clear that there's no currency, only barter.

Roaming the land is Eli (a subdued Denzel Washington), carrying a book with a cross on it. This book is greatly desired by Carnegie (a greasy Gary Oldman), who is also old enough to remember the power such a tome can have over the people. While Eli has been wandering for thirty years in pursuit of such a destination, Carnegie has been sending illiterate henchmen to retrieve every book he can find. The encounter between the two has all the fire and brimstone of a battle between heaven and hell.

Thrown into the mix is Solara (played beautifully by Mila Kunis, who finally sheds her trademark accent), a young, attractive girl who has grown up under Carnegie's protection but, as she flowers into womanhood, is about to become a bargaining chip, a piece of meat, and a lure. When there's no one left to protect her, she becomes a wanderer in Eli's footsteps.

From a religious point of view, it's educational to understand who Eli was in the Bible. In the Bible, Eli's children are cursed for behaving wickedly, a parallel for the war that destroyed civilization in the movie. God's curse assures that all men will "die by the sword" in the movie Eli expertly cuts a bloody swath through his enemies with his machete. In the Bible, it was the job of Eli's sons to guard the Ark of the Covenant the pact God made with man just as Eli guards the holy book in the movie.

There's a twist ending that's not a twist of all if you read up about Eli in the Bible. But don't watch the movie, then do some research, then watch the movie again. Like Eli's quest for spiritual fulfillment, the experience will be rather eye-opening.

I was hesitant to watch The Book of Eli for a while because of mixed things I'd read. Some people claimed it to be 'too religious' and others said the movie was just plain boring. Honestly, the trailers I'd seen didn't exactly win me over, but I gave the movie a shot when I was sick one day, and man did I enjoy it. If you've played the Fallout games, especially Fallout 3, you will -loveThe Book of Eli. So many similarities in the look of the wasteland, in the combat scenes, the importance of water, and more. But even if you never played Fallout 3, The Book of Eli is a very enjoyable movie, provided you're not one of those people that immediately hates anything 'religious' and claims a movie is preachy, given that the subject matter here is religion...so that kind of makes you weird to say that. I'm not a Christian, and I'm definitely not an Atheist, but I didn't find anything 'preachy' about The Book of Eli.

The world is in shambles. There's no law for the most part. Raiders are everywhere, looting, raping and eating people that pass by. Clean water and food is tough to find. Of course it's a rough life. Most people wouldn't think much of it, but imagine your life as you know it right now taking a turn for the worst, and you no longer have any luxuriesyou're a scavenger from now on. That's the world Eli lives in. Eli is on a mission, and tries to stay on the path, as he puts it, and needs to go to a specific location to deliver an important book that no one else is allowed to see or read. At the same time, the ability to read has been lost over the years, and very few people are able to do so. Eli is one, and the other is a corrupt man, Carnegie, who runs a town that Eli enters one day to charge his iPod and haggle with the shop owner. Carnegie wants Eli's book, and will stop at nothing to get it. Unfortunately for him, Eli is practically Zatoichi when it comes to swordplay, and easily dispatches Carnegie's men with his makeshift machete, and is even better with a gun. But Carnegie is relentless, and continues to hunt down Eli.

While the plot itself isn't anything special, the style of the movie is. Rarely do I notice the cinematography in movies, but I noticed it within the first 10 minutes here. The wasteland is gorgeous, as weird as that may sound, and if there were more footage of Eli wandering around in it, I would've been ok with that. The fight scenes are all greatnot too long and not too short. Another Fallout 3 connection I saw here was that in the game, you can use VATS (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System) to target the enemy's body parts, and get an easy kill/dismemberment that way. I swear, Eli used VATS for all of his kills, because he took out everyone in the same way you would in Fallout 3precise targeting. There's a big twist near the end of the movie, though I did see it coming when I figured something out about Eli early on that most people didn't, but it's still a great touch, and I had a huge stupid smile on my face when it was revealed. Of course the book he's carrying is obviously The Bible, as you see shots of the cover several times before the halfway point, but I won't say any more about it so that the ending isn't ruined. As I said earlier, I didn't find the movie to be 'preachy' at all, and that's because this is a movie about religionit doesn't try to be something else, and then throw in a forced message at the last minute. But at the same time, you could've replaced the Bible with any other religious book, and it would've been fine or given the same message. Eli is a man of god, and given how great he is in action, you have to wonder if he hasn't been blessed in some way. But trust me when I say that the movie isn't boring. While it is inspirational, there's plenty of action to go around, including a great scene with an elderly couple, and Eli making good use of his bow and arrow on some thugs. The action is fun, plain and simple. The ONLY bad thing I say is about the immediate endingthe last couple of minutes before the credits roll. I actually said "you gotta be kidding me" out loud when it happened, and if I were reviewing just the movie on its own, it'd get 3.5 stars. Had they not gone that route, this would be an easy 4 star movie in my book.

The picture quality on the blu-ray is very good for what it is. The look of the movie is very washed out, with lots of greys, browns and -verydeep blacks. Even with the muted look, details are sharp, and the movie is beautiful to look at. The audio's even better, making excellent use of the DTS-HD Master Audio track. Sandstorms and the sound of wind blowing by are constant, gunshots explode around you, and dialogue is perfectly balanced with everything else, so nothing sounds too loud or quiet compared to whatever else is going on. Very nice work here. There are also 5.1 Spanish and French tracks, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish and French.

As for the extras, The Book of Eli doesn't disappoint here either. Maximum Movie Mode is here, allowing you to watch the movie with picture-in-picture of storyboards and concept art for their matching scenes. It's very cool, and makes me wish there were an art book for the movie so I could have an easier time looking at everything! You also get 10 Focus Points, which are featurettes on different aspects of making the movie like weapons, stunts, design and more. Basically, everything you'd get on a commentary track is in these two features right here. There's an animated comic, A Lost Tale, that runs for about 5 minutes and kind of shows what made Carnegie the man he is in the movie. I didn't care for the animation, and there isn't much to it when it comes down to it, but it's still nice to have. Rounding out the extras are a quick featurette on the movie's soundtrack, a few minutes of deleted/alternate scenes (nothing important here) and two good featurettes: one about the rise and fall of civilizations and rebuilding society, and a basic featurette going over the making of the movie (script/filming).

Overall, this is a great blu-ray, and if it weren't for that head shakingly bad ending, I would've given this 5 stars. The Book of Eli is one of the better post-apocalyptic movies out there (especially since it doesn't ruin anything by cramming zombies into the mix), and I'd put close to the same level as A Boy & His Dog. Heck, have a movie night with those two and enjoy some Fallout 3 when everything's over. Have an ice cold Nuka-Cola, and you've got a friday night right there.

Buy Book of Eli (2012) Now

The post-apocalypse sub-genre of science fiction has always been a place I like to go. I'll give movies of this type some slack I wouldn't always give other kinds, so that even a relatively weak post-apoc flick like Doomsday (in which Malcolm McDowell appeared, as he does here) still has its interesting moments. But if it's a good one such as I Am Legend, I'm really into it bigtime. So I've been eagerly anticipating The Book of Eli from the time the first trailers appeared, and now that I've seen it there were many things about it I liked. Start with the mythic prophet main character. His super-heroic weapons skills showed there was something unique about him early on. Those scenes were generally pretty cool, and they were spread out pretty well over the length of the film. (Any more fight scenes would have bored me.) Eli's story plays out with a kind of grim determinism, although it also has hopeful elements as well. I was glad I wasn't previously familiar with the story, as the major revelations about the Book in the final act were a complete surprise. Mr. Washington was an excellent choice for the lead. Other roles were well cast too, including (to my surprise) Jennifer Beals as the blind mistress of Gary Oldman's bad boss character. Oldman himself struck just the right notes of ego, madness & desperation. Anyway, as far as the post-apoc nature of the movie, it provides fascinating glimpses of which possessions would be really valuable in such a world (ex., chapstick yes; cigarette lighter, not so much), and other aspects of survival felt very authentic throughout the film. All in all, it wasn't quite the adventure I was expecting (with occasional pacing issues), but I still found it to be an enjoyable viewing experience.

Read Best Reviews of Book of Eli (2012) Here

I first saw this movie at the theatre. It touched me on such an emotional level that I knew that I would need to purchase it as soon as it became available...which for me is highly unusual. I've long been a Denzel Washington fan, and now consider this to be his finest performance ever. Mila Kunis was excellent as well. I've read some of the other reviews for this film and it would seem that many of the reviewers are bending over backward to declare that the movie is not "religious". Well, in my opinion, it was very spiritual and was basically about the power of God in directing His servant to adhere to His Will through many extreme difficulties over a period of 30+ years in order to eventually accomplish the goal that God had intended. The movie begins in the final trial of Eli's journey and we are allowed to observe the constancy of Eli's "walk by faith, not by sight". It is a tale of beauty in a very bleak world.

Want Book of Eli (2012) Discount?

I just watched this movie....didn't bother going to the theatre...watched it at home

on DVD. Let me begin by talking about what I don't like about the movie. First,

at times I felt like I was watching some sets from the Mad Max and Planet of the Apes movies....How many motorcycles will be running in the future and how many gangs

will be out there? Water is a precious commodity, but gas is in abundance?

Seemed silly to me. I thought the acting of Gary Oldman and Denzel Washington

more then made up for those details. As a child of the 1970's...seeing Jennifer Beals again was Nice. The story is intriguing inspite of the Mad Max and Planet of the Apes "feel"....I thought Denzel's Eli was interesting, but at times I thought of the series Kung Fu.....again from the 1970's.....Fortunately those "reminders" don't deviate from a compelling story about a future I hope never happens....

The references to the Bible as both a reason for Hate and a reason for Hope is Interesting. The movie also has a fururistic Western feel to it which makes it appealing to non-sci fi fans.....


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