Friday, June 18, 2010

Movie Review - The Book of Eli

This was a potentially interesting take on the post-apocalyptic genre of film, and I was genuinely interested in seeing it. It's concept was something fairly untapped in recent film, and I liked the idea of books being so valuable in the post-apocalyptic world. Unfortunately for me, this movie was somehting of a letdown.

Here's what I liked: The main character, Eli, had a good moral compass. I like that a lot. He prays to God, has good values and refuses to compromise sexually. There's some really cool action sequences, the cinematagrophy is excellent and the acting is good, which is no surprise since its Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman. There's some thought provoking material here, and the script is fairly solid.

Here's what I didn't like: The execution is shaky. I wasn't aware Eli was supposed to be blind until some time after I saw the movie, and I don't really think he was. There were scenes that left me puzzled, such as when he gets shot from behind, but nothing happens and he continues walking on. I didn't know if the shot had missed, been deflected, or what. Eli shooting a cat with his bow and arrow, if he was blind, seems really implausible. Did he acquire these skills previously, are they divine or what? That was never answered. There's a sense of "seen it before" through the whole film; the villains are all suitably evil-looking, the main bad guy (Oldman) is a good villain but just seems cliche. Eli is a typical loner, wandering down his road on his God-given quest. Not a bad story, but nothing really innovative. The violence tries far too hard to be shocking, hard hitting and almost...philosophical and ends up being in bad taste more than anything.

There is one scene though, towards the second third of the film if I remember rightly, in which Eli and his companion wander into the home of some very friendly people that turns out to be an almost fatal decision that was brilliantly filmed. Without giving it away, I can say this was a perfect, eerie, unsettling scene that really made me sit up and pay attention. Kudos to the director and crew for filming that scene so well.

It certainly is a good film to look at; the colours are interesting, the camera-work is terrific. I wish that most of the really neat action scenes hadn't been shown in every trailer, as I felt that that they showed all the best parts in the trailers. Timing was also bad here, as The Book of Eli was released within a very short time as The Road, and since both movies have nearly identical plots it really took away from The Book of Eli.

All this isn't to say its a bad film; it just could have been better. Too much time was spent trying to philosophize in a Matrix-esque way, and this took away from the overall movie, I think. Had 20 or 30 minutes cut out of it and some of the weaker segments of philosophical/ethical discussions that take place been cut out, I thank it would have fared a lot better. Overall, this is a plain okay film that isn't terrible, but isn't anything amazing.

1 comment:

  1. Good review dude! So this is the kind of movie that if I'm sitting around scrolling my OnDemand for something to watch, then it might be worthwhile. But its not something that I should hunt down and make the wife watch with me, right?

    I've wondered how good this was. It always looked interesting, but never heard much about it...