Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

The Book of Eli


Review by Patrick Hodges

There have been many films over the decades that deal with the subject of “the end of civilization.”  Sometimes the end comes because of natural disasters, sometimes because of viral outbreaks, and sometimes because of war.  We join the story of The Book of Eli thirty years after war laid waste to the world, with the ragged remnants of humanity picking over the bones of society.

Enter Eli (Denzel Washington), a lone traveler wandering the land, carrying what seems to be the last bible in existence.  (The explanation for why it’s the only one is actually given.)  He also carries an assortment of weapons, and some quite impressive skills in using them, if you get my drift.  He is very quietly the biggest badass left on Earth.

Before long, Eli runs afoul of a man named Carnegie (Gary Oldman, back in his element as the scary villain), who desperately wants the book, convinced that its words will help to unite what’s left of mankind – under his guidance, of course.  On the run and with a young girl named Solara (Mila Kunis) in tow, Eli must find a way to get the book to the place where it was meant to be, a place that he is convinced God is leading him.

As action films go, this one was pretty good.  As dystopian dramas go, it was actually pretty cool.  And as a piece of entertainment, it’s probably as good as you’re going to get in January.  It really is good to see Denzel, now 55, can still throw one down with the best of them, something I haven’t seen him do since Man On Fire.  Oldman, who is one of those actors best known for playing bad guys (Dark Knight and Harry Potter notwithstanding), manages to tread the line between cool and cartoonish. 

Kudos to the Hughes Brothers, who directed Eli, their first outing since 2001’s From Hell, a quite underrated thriller itself.  If this film is any indication of their talents, let’s hope that we won’t have to wait another nine years to see it.

3 ½ / 5 stars

Review by Chris Maitland

What a way to start the year off. January is normally known as a wasteland for Hollywood to dump their garbage. The Book Of Eli is not only not trash, it’s one of the best films I have seen in the past year or so.

The story focuses around a drifter named Eli (Denzel Washington). Eli is the protector of a sacred book that has all of mankind’s religious past in it. His goal is to gowest with the book but that plan is thwarted when he come across a small township led by a man named Carnegie (a menacing Gary Oldman), who routinely sends his gang of henchmen and drifters looking for the book that Eli possesses.  Eli, of course, has sworn to protect his book and isn’t about to just hand it over.

This film is absolutely top-notch. The performances by Washington and Oldman are spectacular. Washington is so cool and collected as the skilled-fighting drifter that it’s almost scary. Oldman, throughout his long career, has played amazing villains and again he knocks it out of the park. Even the normally awful Mila Kunis is pretty good here as Solara, the girl who ends up tagging along with Eli.

 The Hughes Brothers know what they are doing. They didn’t just make this another post-apocalyptic action film. They went way above and beyond that. The way this film blends brutal, fantastic action and an intriguing storyline is refreshing to see considering some of the recent films I have seen (cough, cough, Avatar, cough cough). The cinematography is also quite striking and strangely pretty, given how barren the landscape is… you can truly feel like the apocalypse has hit.

This film is a must-see. I am utterly convinced this will be one of top films of 2010. A special film with top-notch acting, gripping storyline and superb acting. You don’t get all of that in the same film much, and it’s quite the spectacle.

5 / 5 stars         

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