Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Video review: "The Book of Eli"
“The Book of Eli” may just be the best-looking dumb movie ever made.
This post-apocalyptic drama from the Hughes brothers directing duo (Allen and Albert) features a wasteland so bleak and bled of color, the film is nearly monochromatic. Its spareness is practically sumptuous.
But the script (by Gary Whitta) is filled with so much idiocy and silliness, we grow distracted from all the great visuals.
The setup is part “Mad Max,” part “Waterworld” (sans water), part “Fallout” video game, and 100 percent bone-headed.
Denzel Washington plays the title character, a wandering badass who possesses the last Holy Bible on Earth. Most of humanity was wiped out 30 years ago, and the few that are left roam the desert preying on each other, or gather into chaotic enclaves.
Eli strolls into one of the latter, a town led by an intelligent, diabolical man named Carnegie (Gary Oldman), who sees in the Bible a weapon with which he can tie the rabble to his yoke.
The last two-thirds of the movie devolves into a series of chases and fights as Carnegie's men seek to wrest the book from Eli's grasp. Eli, armed with a freaky-looking machete and preternaturally fast moves, filets them to bits.
It's a cool, withered world the Hugheses have painted for us. And I’m a sucker for stories about mankind squabbling over the flotsam of their dead society.
But don't be fooled by its great looks: “The Book of Eli” is so stupid, it’s almost unholy.
Video extras are spare for DVD, but terrific in the Blu-ray version.
The DVD has four brief deleted or alternate scenes, and a 5-minute animated comic book story about Carnegie's origins.
In addition, the Blu-ray edition has a pop-up commentary track by the Hughes brothers, which you can pause to watch an additional 34 minutes of "Focus Points" covering all levels of production.
I found it fascinating that the Hugheses commissioned a complete graphic novel version of the story before filming began.
There's also a featurette on the soundtrack, a digital copy of the film, and two documentaries totaling 30 minutes that explore the spiritual implications of Eli's world and mission.
Movie: 1.5 stars
Extras: 3.5 stars