Movie Review - The Book of Eli

I am either slow in the head or a glutton for punishment. I know better than to go to a movie theater. I've had decent luck the last couple times, but that just can't hold. Sooner or later, things will go poorly. It's unavoidable, really - even if the last thing you see before the movie starts is the PSA that says, 'turn off your phone, don't talk in the movie, and for God's sake, take the baby outside', some jackhole feels like God himself came down and told him that he was the exception.

Going to see The Book of Eli this weekend, I ran afoul of every kind of irritating person you can meet at a theater. The person behind me and to the left felt compelled to tell the actors when they had done something egregious. 'Oh no you didn't!' is a little redundant when A) he very obviously did, and B) HE CAN'T HEAR YOU, STUPID!! The rest of us, though - we hear you just fine.

Of course, that's not the end of the offenders. We had the pinhead who thinks that since he brought a woman with him, he should be allowed to talk to her through the entire film, and wants to fight if you ask him to simmer down now. We had the ignorant bastard whose cell phone rang during the movie - twice. And we had the ultimate what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-you throwback retard, who goes to see a movie rated for adults with a child under a year old.

And yet I still loved the movie.

For one thing, I don't think I've ever seen a Denzel Washington film where I thought he didn't deliver an amazing performance, and The Book of Eli is no exception. He is, in my opinion, better than usual - and that's saying something. Whether he's cutting through bad guys with his machete or bartering for a repair on his iPod, he is just plain fun to watch. Add in Gary Oldman and Ray Stevenson (who portrayed Titus Pullo in Rome), and you've got enough genius acting power to light up a small town.

The story is related brilliantly through the washed-out colors and bleak lighting, and it has a basic underlying plot that will get you thinking about the role of religion in society. It wasn't heavy-handed, but there was a fascinating exploration of the power of faith that didn't flinch from making a pretty bold statement about religion, society and war.

Of course, any decent post-apocalyptic movie should have some quality violence, and The Book of Eli delivers in spades. Some of the fighting is so visceral and raw that it could be a little disturbing (which is one reason you don't take a toddler). It's uncompromising, exciting, and powerful, and it has the coolest hand-chopping-off you've ever seen. It's not gratuitously brutal, but it's hardcore and fast and super freaking cool.

The post-apocalyptic movie is one of my favorite genres, from Mad Max and Escape From New York to Omega Man and 28 Days Later. So when I say that The Book of Eli is easily the best post-apocalyptic move I've seen, I do have some frame of reference (though my judgment may be questionable since I liked Waterworld). Beyond a cool story and exciting violence and amazing performances, there's a depth to Book of Eli that you never see in this genre. Usually you see a bunch of survivors who kill each other, some hero who sticks up for some underdogs or just wreaks a little vengeance, and lots of people with bad teeth. The Book of Eli uses the genre to tell a tale and make a point in ways that practically reinvent the entire after-the-war film concept.

I heartily recommend seeing The Book of Eli, and be prepared for some 'Holy Crap!' twists that will set you on your heels and make you want to watch it all over again. I just really suggest that if you're going to see it, you rent it, unless you want to spend two hours listening to crying babies and belligerent chatterboxes that won't stop talking until you offer to cave in their faces with a rubber mallet.

Not that I've done that.


Really smart story with tight, well-delivered dialog
Magnificent bloodshed
Great style really delivers on the theme
Extremely thought-provoking

Theaters are full of stupid people who should not be allowed to breed