The apocalypse? Yawn. Seen it before. And what the world looks like after. Next to the vampire genre, it is the second hottest genre at the moment. Last week was the release of the Oscar seeking The Road (review at a later date), another post-apocalyptic tale. November was ruled by the end of the world in Emmerichs 2012.
This week sees the release of The Book Of Eli. Set in America, because that’s the only place that really matters when the destruction of the planet occurs, it sees Denzel Washington as Eli, a lone walker following “The Road” (I know, it just oozes of originality) who is in possession of a book. But not just any book: it’s the last remaining copy of the King James Bible. A book that he’s read every day without fail for 30 years. Eventually, he arrives at a town which wouldn’t look out of place in a 50’s western, run by Carnegie (Gary Oldman). I have two issues with the villains name: one, its the name of an award for children’s books which seems too coincidental to be an accident, and two it just doesn’t sound that villainous! If I had a chihuahua, Carnegie would be on the list of possible names.
Back on topic, Carnegie has been searching for the book that Eli has for years, so he can brainwash people with the message from the Bible and rule more of the land. Begs the question of why he’d want to rule more. Maybe it would’ve been useful before everything was destroyed, but not when the majority of America looks like the Sahara desert.
And there’s the narrative! Man has book > other man wants book > first man won’t give up book >second man gets angry > eventually gets the book > TWIST 1! > gets VERY angry > TWIST 2! > End.
Ahh the twists. Very impressive when first revealed; they are genuine “I did NOT see that coming” moments. But there’s usually a reason why people don’t see twists coming, and it’s simply because they make no goshdarn sense.
Y’know those little strips on the back of scratch cards that say “void if removed?” Well imagine the story of this movie to a £100,000 winning card, and the twist to be the “void if removed” strip. That strip gets removed not long after the twist is revealed. I’d say it was a shame, but it’s not. The story just didnt grab me to start with, so there’s no reason for me to care now. It’s important for an opening scene to be grabbing: to engage the viewer into the story and introduce the rest of the film. In a way, The Book Of Eli did this.
See the link for the trailer at the bottom? Watch it. The opening of the film is literally the opening of the trailer. A woodland area with a hairless cat and a man wearing a gas mask with a huge crossbow. And that impressive shot of a slow motion arrow that breezes through the air? “Wow, some poor sucker’s gonna get it!” you must be thinking. And they do. Remember that cat from the beginning? That is the poor sucker.
Yep. Eli shoots the cat for food. And it had no dignity in death; we see the arrow pierce the unfortunate creature and the felines fate is sealed. Again, the question of why arises. Sure, Eli needs to eat, but a cat? Hmm. Referring back to the slowed down arrow, that particular shot is impressive. And there are a few other shots that made me think The Hughes Brothers had a good eye for scenes. The blasts of action (and I assure you they really are just blasts, lasting a maximum of 2 minutes) are filmed from far away, allowing the viewer to see all the henchmen move and attack. A great way to film an action scene in my opinion. However, there was one particular shot that baffled me completely.
The scene depicted the convoy that Carnegie was travelling with, but.. the road was sideways up, on the right side of the screen. You’d literally have to tilt your head to see it. And it seemed so unnecessary. But I really shouldn’t have been surprised; the majority of this film was.
As for the acting, everyone looked like they were doing this movie as a favour to the directors. There wasn’t much enthusiasm from anyone: even the brilliant Gary Oldman was average at best. The sepia look of the film was effective though; the colours looked drained and conveyed the bleakness of the surroundings well.
Overall though, a disappointing result to a film that promised so much from the trailer. Every action scene can be pieced together from the trailer, and the dialogue isn’t strong enough to carry the story successfully for the whole two hours.