Wednesday, January 5, 2011
The Book of Eli Review
Not billed as a straight up horror movie, The Book of Eli has some incredible scary tones. There are some great horror messages here, and for those that aren't believers in the Bible or any "holy" book at all, a great representation of terror is displayed in this film.
First and foremost, I want to say that I am usually first to say that Denzel Washington appears to only know how to be a detective. However, he has made some stand out rolls where he doesn't just settle for being a hero on the side of the law, he has taken some fringe characters and made them work on a lot of different levels. That being said, he is the main reason that this movie works well, and his mannerisms and dialogue delivery make this movie quite good, if not scary at times.
The plot of the film seems simple at first. In a post apocalyptic world one man travels the globe holding on to the last printed bible. Along the way we see his journey from point A to point B but before he gets to his destination, we get treated to a visually stunning array of gore, graphic violence, and martial arts. Unlike Stephen Seagal's Horror movie, this movie has a great deal of quality martial arts action, with some great editing, and impressive stunt work. I read somewhere that Denzel Washington wanted to make the fighting authentic, so he trained in many forms of hand to hand combat, to make sure that the sequences were up to snuff and not too "simple" like those seen in say, "The Dark Knight" which has some of the worst fisticuffs in movie history.
You take the simple plot, and you do not add zombies, you don't add robots or vampires, and you got something. A scary notion that the world has gone to complete crap, and those that choose to travel end up dying, killing, and fighting. For about one hour and a half we get a visual feast that relies heavily on explosives, gun play, and much more to fill in an otherwise boring journey.
The horror elements require you to think a little, and for that, this film gets taken down a notch. I heard a lot of different reviews in podcast format hating this film because there's an underlying "Christian" message through it all. For religious types that are savvy enough to understand that the "light" doesn't require more "light" but it is the darkness that requires light, this film is the best example of what evangelism and film could be. However, for those that do not see the film as such, this film is a science fiction novelty with bits and pieces taken from a variety of "moral" sources.
I found myself enjoying this film on an intellectual level, which is rare when talking about most horror movies that I review for this blog. That's not to say that The Book of Eli is the greatest film, nor is it one of the most scary films I've seen. However, there are a great deal of scary moments in this film that are revealed with such subtlety that you might miss it if you blink. For instance, there are hero's here that are "blind" and powerful, and then there are villains here that seem to have it all, but then lose it, when something as simple as reading becomes what they long for.
I don't need to further explain this films great overall tones, and I don't want to spoil it for anyone. I loved how this film ramped up tension, with every plot point. As the film continued the film became far more than another post apocalyptic horror film, it became something that transcends genres. Then in the final act, completely throws everything out the window, leaving me second guessing everything I just said in regards to it.
Great horror film doesn't always have to involve entrails being ripped out of someone, or a super villain that keeps coming back from the grave. Great horror reflects on not only a visual urgency, it leaves you scared for the future, and the idea that you might live to see something so horrific, especially for those of us that believe in the Bible. The book ends with such a heavy handed "christian" message for me, that's hard for me to recommend this film to everyone. I see where the negatives will come into place, and I see where people are going to hate the "wtf" moments, but I think that this is one of the better films released in 2010, and I didn't really think I would end up liking it as much as I did.
The Book of Eli has flaws. There are visual problems, there are moments that I don't understand "why" this film was made or the choice of hero and villain. I'm not sure why it ended the way it did, but one thing is for sure, this is one scary film, especially when considering that post apocalyptic worlds seem to be the future...if you listen to the likes of Alex Jones. I believe I've said too much, but man, this film made the gears in my head spin, and unlike a lot of movies I've seen in 2010, this one takes the cake...at least until a Microsoft Zune was shown, and I broke out laughing.