Earth, post-apocalypse; radiation poisoning; Denzel Washington; Gary Oldman; cannibals. How can a movie go wrong with these elements? The Book of Eli shows us how.
The end of the world as we know it. It is such a morbid topic, yet pop culture embraces it so tightly. They also seem to embrace Jersey Shore and conspiracy theories with the same fervor, but it doesn’t seem as saturated. In the past 6 months, we have had the opportunity to see 2012, Legion, The Tooth Fairy, and, our topic film, The Book of Eli. All four movies deal with some sort of “end of the world as we know it” theme(I’m guessing The Tooth Fairy does, since Dwayne Johnson in ballet tights sounds to be in line with rivers turning to blood and locust swarms).
I can only guess that the reason is to say to the audience, “Aw, you can’t buy a new car after 2 years? Well, it could be worse.” Personally, I’d rather laugh at a decent comedy, but to each their own.
The Book of Eli takes place about 30 years after a massive war broke out upon the earth. Nuclear warfare apparently destroyed the ozone layer, and anyone taking a leisurely stroll in the park or walking their dog was burnt to a crisp. The lucky ones, who were inside watching Jerry Springer, survived, and did what they could to continue surviving for about a year, when they were finally able to go out into a barren wasteland the likes of the video game Fallout 3. At least, that’s what “Walker”(Denzel Washington) tells us, along with some reflective Christian teachings and an anecdote about being wasteful and having more than you need.
Walker is a man who has been walking for over 30 years across the remaining United States of America to deliver a bible out west. The actual place he needs to go is unknown. All Walker knows is that he’ll have a feeling when he arrives. Why it takes him 30 years to walk across the USA is something you learn later.
In his travels he forages for food and water, fights off ambush parties, listens to his iPod, and reads the bible. He comes across a town run by Gary Oldman, who has been searching for a bible to help control his little town. Obviously, Walker isn’t going to give it up without a fight, because then there would hardly be any movie to watch.
So what’s good about this movie? Well, the scenery is awesome. Anyone who played the video game Fallout 3 will feel quite at home with the landscapes. It’s almost as if images were lifted from the game and shot live-action, begging for a live-action movie of its own.
The depiction of life post-apocalyptica is interesting, as well. Of course, we’ve seen most of this before in the Mad Max series, but it is thought-provoking just the same.
Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman do a great job with what they are given as characters. Anyone less would have probably made me walk out of this film. Sadly, there is only so much that talented actors can do to keep a film above water. Mila Kunis is good eye candy, especially in a movie where most people have weird growths coming out of their faces. The rest of the movie just gets drawn out and annoying.
For one, the “twist”(for spoiler-free purposes) of Walker is aggravating. If you look back on the movie, you can understand why he does certain things because of this twist, but at the same time there are other elements and shots that don’t make sense. It seems that half the time, the director is fighting between storyline and scenery. Obviously, scenery kept on winning, making the movie pretty shallow.
The religious theme also irked me, but not as much as I’d thought. While Gary Oldman’s interpretation as the Devil incarnate was fantastic, the use of theology to explain away how Walker keeps on trucking is tired and uninteresting. Granted, it’s hard to do the movie without the book of Eli, but with the human side of Walker coming only at the very, very end, it’s hard to take the religious overtones seriously.
In the end, I give this movie 2 out of 5 Pip-Boy 3000s.