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24 January 2013

The Book of Eli (2010)

I've been getting myself all confused again. I bought the DVD of The Book of Eli thinking that it was a film adaptation of Walter Miller Junior’s book: A Canticle for Leibowitz. Yeah, I know that the name is very different, but I wasn't really paying that much attention at the time. A Canticle for Leibowitz is a post-apocalyptic novel involving a monk obsessing over a picture from the past. The Book of Eli is a post-apocalyptic film involving Denzel Washington obsessing over a book from the past. How different could they possibly be?

What have we got here then?
The Book of Eli, Warner Brothers 2010

A lot :-D

I'll be straight-up with you and say that there's quite a bit I could have said about this film which I’m just not going to be able to say without spoiling it for you. This is one of those films that hopes to spin you on your heels with the reveals. I’ll try to not ruin it for you.

Eli's last stand?
The Book of Eli, Warner Brothers 2010

The Book of Eli was released in 2010. It landed a year after The Road and touches on a number of similar themes. That's not too surprising given the subject matter: Both are set in America; Both are set around a strong central character; Both involve a sort of quest to get to the coast. The big difference between the two is Religion.

For me, The Road is really a story exploring the love between father and son. It's a beautiful tale of survival, of relationships enduring whilst humanity free-falls. The Book of Eli doesn't manage to achieve anywhere near the same depth of horror or emotion as The Road. And I'm sorry if this is news to directors “the Hughes Brothers” and writer Gary Whitt, quoting the Bible isn't enough to make something profound.

What's a man got to do to get a drink round here?
The Book of Eli, Warner Brothers 2010

Okay, so we've established that this is no Road, but what is it then? I got flashes of a comic book. There are some well-worked scenes of superhuman slashing CGI gore and apocalyptic scenery which have been framed in much the same way you might find in a comic, but in the same way that comics tend to simplify and rely upon stereotypes, so too does the Book of Eli. I guess the word I’m looking for here is “shallow”. Scratch the surface of the Book of Eli and you won’t find much beneath.

That said... there are a heap of recognizable faces in the cast. Aside from the obviously despicable Carnegie (played by the obviously despicable Gary Oldman) and the obviously righteous Eli (played by the obviously righteous Denzel Washington) I also spotted Michael Gambon and Frances de la Tour as the wonderful George and Martha. I don’t know why, but this pairing had me thinking Harry Potter.

Dumbledore and Olympe Maxime?
The Book of Eli, Warner Brothers 2010

If you can last long enough, you’ll also see Malcolm McDowell making a cameo. I kept thinking that I should have known who Solara was and after a bit of googling I can see that she is Mila Kunis (the squeaky one from That 70s Show). She’s a bit bigger these days, but just as squeaky. Whilst there certainly is a creditable swathe of talent on screen, the script fails to get the best out of them. What a shame!

Top Gun? No!... Top Squeak!
The Book of Eli, Warner Brothers 2010

My biggest problem with this film is a pretty fundamental one... the story really doesn't make that much sense. As I was watching it I found myself overlooking all sorts of inconsistencies and errors in an attempt to spark some enjoyment. I'll admit that it got to me in the end. And I can’t talk about any of this without spoiling it! What a bummer! Oh well... you can have fun pulling it apart yourself... there is plenty to go at!

Right... Let’s wind this one up. I'm starving! On the Triple-B I'm going to welcome my 3 new friends in for dinner... MY dinner that is ;-) Nom Nom Nom...

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