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Massawyrm loves the post-apocalyptic samurai goodness of THE BOOK OF ELI

Hola all. Massawyrm here. “The most expensive special effect you’ll see right up there on that screen cost $20 Million and his name is Denzel Washington.” That’s how one of the Hughes brothers prefaced last night’s screening of THE BOOK OF ELI. If the idea of watching Denzel Washington walk around a post-apocalyptic wasteland while navigating around the likes of Gary Oldman, Ray Stevenson, Tom Waits and Michael Gambon doesn’t blow your skirt up, then seriously man, what the fuck are you doing reading Ain’t it Cool News? This is EXACTLY the type of movie we get excited for. We are truly in a golden age of genre filmmaking. While people like Owen Gleiberman might be lamenting us overgrown teenage boys supposedly calling the shots when it comes to studio decisions, the truth is genre filmmaking always does well in times of economic downturn. When this country was in the shitter in the late 70’s and early 80’s it was genre we turned to, and from it came the greatest age of genre filmmaking the world had ever seen. Between the years of 1977 and 1985 we saw the birth of franchises that are legendary now. STAR WARS, INDIANA JONES, STAR TREK feature films, GHOSTBUSTERS, MAD MAX, BACK TO THE FUTURE, CONAN THE BARBARIAN, ALIEN, THE TERMINATOR. Meanwhile, brilliant filmmakers also created a series of darker, more cerebral fare like BLADE RUNNER and horrific nightmares like THE THING. It was a beautiful period we are now reliving in our own way this very moment. We’ve got a number of our own classics seeded throughout this period: HARRY POTTER, THE LORD OF THE RINGS, SPIDER-MAN, AVATAR, IRON MAN and a number of others that may or may not attain classic status as the years go on. But what we’re seeing now, right this very instant, stretching back over the last few years is the release of dark, brooding, social commentaries dressed up in the trappings of science fiction and fantasy. Some of our most brilliant and acclaimed filmmakers are beginning to treat genre filmmaking with the same respect they treat Oscar caliber filmmaking, and a number of upstart first timers are emerging with strong, profound, original voices. Films like MOON, DISTRICT 9, CLOVERFIELD, CHILDREN OF MEN and THE ROAD all left marks, while films like PANDORUM, SURROGATES, and KNOWING at least gave it a shot, if not came close in some cases. Now the question on your mind as you read this is where does THE BOOK OF ELI fit, in the former or the latter? Well, it belongs firmly in the former. I hate that people can’t seem to talk about this without mentioning THE ROAD. You might as well be compare THE SEVENTH SEAL to THE SEVEN SAMURAI. THE ROAD is a dark, depressing, existential discussion on maintaining hope and morality in the face of oblivion. THE BOOK OF ELI is a post-apocalyptic samurai movie. It has more in common with SIX STRING SAMURAI than it does THE ROAD. Sure both films are recent and deal with soulful characters trying to eke out an existence after the complete and utter collapse of society after some barely described tragedy – but the similarities end there. This is a western; a classic adventure film. Everything else, spirituality and all, is just window dressing for the movies true soul. The film is about a man named Eli, a warrior-monk of sorts on something of a spiritual quest through the desolate, post-nuclear California wasteland. The film opens with series of quiet, speechless sequences as we learn about Eli through his survival routines. He hunts, he scavenges for wearable clothing and workable shoes, and when his jerry-rigged prized possession runs out of juice, he makes his way to the nearest civilization to get his battery recharged. But then somebody has to fuck with him. And that’s when the sword comes out and any chance of this being a quiet, meditative film about humanity on the brink of annihilation goes right out the window. Now that’s not to say that THE BOOK OF ELI doesn’t have anything to say; in fact it has quite a bit to say about the nature of humanity and our passion for the comforts we currently take for granted. One of the film’s already mocked and discussed elements – Eli’s iPod – highlights this perfectly and sets up Eli in ways that you can’t quite grasp until you’ve taken it all in. One column I read this week, written by someone who hadn’t even seen the film, took the opportunity to show how much smarter they were than the filmmakers by explaining all the reasons an iPod in a post-apocalyptic world was silly. But one look at this mangled, pathetic thing and all of that criticism seems infantile. This isn’t an iPod. It’s Frankenstein. It is a cracked, abused, jagged piece of junk wired to a top of the line (in its day) bulky rechargeable battery. When the charge dies, it forces Eli into a dangerous town in hopes of getting it recharged. Why? Because there’s a very good chance that the music on that iPod is the last place on earth that this music even exists; that when it dies, so too does the music of Al Greene. Eli isn’t just some feckless scavenger who likes music. He is the bearer of some of the last scraps of everything that was great about civilization, a keeper of the flame carrying a packs worth of humanity’s most cherished art. That iPod isn’t some cute joke meant to endear the audience to Eli; it is everything this film is about. As you wander with Eli through the dirty, ash-strewn streets of this post-apocalyptic world, you notice how people cling to what few scraps they have left; how certain characters relish simple, every day experiences we take for granted. Some waste them, spoiling themselves with the last remnants of our society. Others, like Eli, seek to protect it for the greater good. Eli is, in a sense, the iPod so many people are going to joke about – broken, battered and brimming with the flickering light of the world. The oddest thing about THE BOOK OF ELI is the fact that it is a rated-R movie with a very Christian McGuffin. The film isn’t Christian; people are certainly going to think it is and Eli, to an extent, seems to be on the surface; but when all is said and done it has nothing about the Christian faith to say nor is Eli anything resembling a good Christian. Instead, the film is spiritual in nature, and hints at the possibility of the supernatural without actually committing to it at a level that one can nail down. The film is about faith, about the desire to make the world a better place. It’s never for a moment preachy because it’s not selling anything, and no one is going to walk out thinking differently about their faith. But it is bordering on brilliant. There is so much subtlety to what the Hughes Brothers have included here that I’m not certain it’s all attainable with a single first pass. There are a number of things that are unspoken but clearly present, hinted at in a number of ways, including something of an unrequited love story that adds a certain level of depth to a normally cardboard archetypal character. I’m not ready to deem this a classic, but I will say that as far as post-apocalyptic films go, this is one of the very best. And how can it not be? Denzel Washington isn’t the type of guy who signs on to a genre film for a paycheck. That’s why we love him. Even when his films don’t work, it never feels as if he was sleepwalking through it or simply took the payday. It always feels like he found something in the character that he wanted to investigate – and that’s exactly what he does here. Eli is a simple character, but one possessed of a number of layers. And every time we peel back a new layer, it only serves to show how deeply Washington understands his subject because we see that he was paying attention to the details supporting each layer simultaneously. And the Hughes Brothers didn’t rest on the power of Denzel alone. Every major speaking role in this film is powered by someone with the weight to carry it home. I don’t think I need to tell you how awesome Gary Oldman is in this – you’re probably already counting on that. But Ray Stevenson as his right hand man is fantastic, giving a deep, occasionally moving performance as Oldman’s henchman-in-chief. Tom Waits and Michael Gambon both give great – if brief – performances, punctuating what could have been throw away roles. And Mila Kunis and Jennifer Beals add the heartbreak to a world seemingly devoid of any remaining human emotion that doesn’t require posturing. There isn’t a weak link in the cast from the bit parts on up – everyone is fantastic. It is clear that the Hughes Brothers understand the material. From a few hidden references to a simple overt one, the film gives a number of small clues as to the pedigree of the film. They know their post-apocalyptic cinema and they know their samurai films. Everything about this movie is executed perfectly. The big question is whether or not you are with where the film goes in its third act as it reveals everything it has been keeping from you from minute one. The film has a number of big surprises, a few of which will have you wanting to rewatch it to see how the integrity of the film holds up once you know what you will. I myself can’t wait to revisit this as soon as possible. THE BOOK OF ELI is a wonderful film, a dark, brutal addition to a subgenre with only a handful of real classics. If you are in any way a fan of films like THE ROAD WARRIOR, or hell, even 1992: BRONX WARRIORS, you owe it to yourself to see this as soon as you can. STRONGLY RECOMMENDED. Until next time friends, smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em. Massawyrm
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Readers Talkback
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  • Jan. 15, 2010, 10:41 a.m. CST

    yo

    by Hey_Kobe_Tell_Me_How_My_Ass_Tastes

    ill see it

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 10:41 a.m. CST

    sold!

    by idrinkyourmilkshake

    sold!

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 10:42 a.m. CST

    Massa gives it blessing = pretty solid film

    by idrinkyourmilkshake

    Seeing this bad boy tomorrow.Screw you Lovely Bones!

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 10:43 a.m. CST

    Awesome review

    by fassbinder79

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 10:44 a.m. CST

    I am curios to know what BEN LYONS

    by idrinkyourmilkshake

    think of this film.ahhhhh, the good old days(of trashing his awful reviews...)

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 10:45 a.m. CST

    Never bought Denzel as an action hero.

    by cookylamoo

    Great actor, but too pretty and smart to play Rambo. In Virtuosity, Crowe acted him off the screen.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 10:47 a.m. CST

    Gene Shalit says its ELI-CTRIFYING!

    by Baron Karza

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11 a.m. CST

    not Christian?

    by Sir_Gibbonz

    *slight spoiler* It's the story of a man carrying a book which the last hope of a post-apocalyptic world. And that book is... wait for it... the fucking bible. How in God's name is that not Christian? It's an out and out endorsement. Literally-- Christianity will save the world (and lets not even bother to explain how it does so-- it's magic! Like Jesus!) C'mon, man. This review is either naive as hell or utterly disingenuous. I.E. you're either lying to yourself or lying to us.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11 a.m. CST

    Hmmm.... I may need to rethink my apathy towards this...

    by HarryCalder

    The trailers, despite the amazing cast, certainly didn't inspire confidence... (along with the January release, blah, blah, blah...)

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:01 a.m. CST

    Always wanted to see Denzel in more Easy Rawlins movies.

    by cookylamoo

    Shame they didn't catch on.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:02 a.m. CST

    AICN Is Pushing This Way Too Hard

    by Crow3711

    For it to be at a 47% on RottenTomatoes. Not that that really means anything, most of those critics are morons...but still...I just don't buy it. They've been sucking off these hughes brothers with interviews for days, and now give glowing reviews. I'm just surprised.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:02 a.m. CST

    I also hated the whole graphic "B-ELI-EVE" bullshit...

    by HarryCalder

    Okay, we get it, it's a film about faith... sheesh...

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:15 a.m. CST

    ..."rethink my apathy"...

    by FlickaPoo

    ...I should to...I just...I'm so tired.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:19 a.m. CST

    Not Christian (slight spoiler)

    by godric

    Just because the object in question is the Bible doesn't mean that overall message of the film lines up in any way with the Christian system. Lots of things have been done that have called "Christian" that weren't remotely so.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:19 a.m. CST

    bleh

    by NippleEffect

    knowing the book is a Bible, or any religious book makes this a low priority movie for me

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:21 a.m. CST

    All the reviews for this have been terrible

    by Trazadone

    I'll watch a bootleg online.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:29 a.m. CST

    So the "book" really is just a bible? Really?

    by HarryCalder

    Because that would be crushingly disappointing... and also highly bogus and sucky...

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:30 a.m. CST

    Nipple

    by greatmoose

    What if they burned it at the end or something, would you watch it then? Geez, some of you REALLY need to get over your religious hang-ups. OMG, CANNOT WATCH CUZ HAZ BIBBLE INNIT!!!

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:31 a.m. CST

    Sir_Gibbonz

    by bnl771

    You obviously haven't seen the movie because **SPOILERS** if you know where the book ends up it's obviously not a Christian movie! **SPOILERS ENDED**

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:33 a.m. CST

    greatmoose: I have no religious hang-ups at all...

    by HarryCalder

    ...I just think the bible, as some kind of metaphor object in a film like this, is a sign of staggeringly lazy thinking. Fucking "Zardoz" is a million times more imaginative...

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:34 a.m. CST

    Looks like shit...Don't give a fuck...

    by AzulTool

    To Mila Kunis: It's boner season...ALL YEAR LONG, BABY!!!YEAH!!!WOOO!!!

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:36 a.m. CST

    Or maybe I'm totally wrong...

    by HarryCalder

    but again, based on the trailers, this film looked really derivative and obvious... I hope I'm wrong...

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:36 a.m. CST

    I'm With Harry Calder

    by Crow3711

    I'm Christian, no problem with the Bible...but its a fucking weak choice. How much more heavy handed can you get? I mean it. Can anyone think of anything more heavy handed than making the Bible the object that will save humanity in post-apoc world? It's fucking retarded. People need foodand water. People don't need a bible to survive, or to rebuild. If they are making a movie that basically purports that society can only rebuilt based on the fundamentals of a judeo-christian framework...then that is lazy and retarded. Can anyone think of a single thing more heavy handed than that?

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:37 a.m. CST

    RICOCHET does not exist in this dojo

    by Cobra--Kai

    Cooky, you never bought Denzel as an action hero?<p> Man, he's been there right from his early days - anyone here remember RICOCHET? Directed by Rusell Mulcahy (HIGHLANDER guy) and with Jon Lithgow as the baddie. It's an under-appreciated little gem.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:40 a.m. CST

    by Cobra--Kai

    Crow, I think the underlying context is that you cannot rule - you cannot have power over others -with weapons alone.<p> You need 'words', you need 'rhetoric', these things are actually more powerful than the gun. That's why Gary Oldman wants the book so badly, because he believes it will supply this power.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:41 a.m. CST

    Not anti-religious

    by NippleEffect

    would rather the book be on how to get crops growing again, how to clean the enviroment, how to heal the ozone layer, etc<p> It being a religious book protected by an ultra violent killer sounds stupid<p>

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:41 a.m. CST

    The Road woulda been better with more exploding trucks and kick-

    by Friendo

    Fuck this movie.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:42 a.m. CST

    ...and kick-fights and cool shades.

    by Friendo

    still.. Fuck this movie.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:44 a.m. CST

    Cobra--Kai: Your point is well-taken...

    by HarryCalder

    But that's exactly why using the bible is such an obvious choice...

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:44 a.m. CST

    Religion

    by SSquirrel

    Of course, having a religion can help him rebuild society. Religions are all about maintaining your herd and bringing their money to you. Imagine if the bad guy can convince the people he is Jesus returned or something? This could have been the Koran. It could have been the Bagavhad Gita. This movie was shot for an American audience tho and people will understand the impact of a Bible better.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:46 a.m. CST

    Also, Richochet is fun...

    by HarryCalder

    but damn me to hell if Lithgow isn't in full-tilt wack-job mode... I had to keep ducking from the spittle flying off his mouth...

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:48 a.m. CST

    "Never bought Denzel as an action hero."

    by palewook

    wtf. <p> Man on Fire. Training Day. American Gangster.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:49 a.m. CST

    Yeah but...

    by God's Brother

    The bible? really? Why not just the last BOOK on earth? Also, why not just say it's the bible in the trailers? Nothing against the bible, but I had no idea it was so completely cristian. It's literally a movie that Kirk Cameron would get behind, the christian stuff is THAT prevalent. Just sayin

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:50 a.m. CST

    CLOVERFIELD next to CHILDREN OF MEN???? How dare you?

    by Keanu Gives

    Massa, everything in this article is gold except for adding CLOVERFIELD to that category. CLOV is just an ok entry to the genre; just placing it in the same sentence and status as the masterpiece CHILDREN OF MEN is plain offensive and wrong.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:50 a.m. CST

    But also:

    by God's Brother

    Never seen Denzel this cool, and it definitely had some really cool parts. Good overall, but just let everybody know it's one big movie about how awesome the bible is.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:50 a.m. CST

    20 years from now . . .

    by adiehardfanwithalethalweapon

    I really don't think Spidey, Ironman, and Avatar will be considered classics. I like them all to some degree but they're technical or financial achivements at the most. And when will folks realize that Avatar was a blatant rip of dances with wolves with an added twist or two. Wow, the indians are blue . . . aaaaamazing! lol

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:51 a.m. CST

    You lost me at the word "spiritual"

    by gruntybear

    And all the hokey non-Christian daftness that it entails: dreamcatchers, zen gardens, koans, meditation, moments of silence, patchouli scented tapestries, fucking yin-yang tattoos. It's all bullshit - ALL. OF. IT.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:52 a.m. CST

    Oh, and trust me I'm not on the side of any religion

    by gruntybear

    When I say it's bullshit, I mean its all bullshit - Christian and non-Christian alike.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:56 a.m. CST

    So now AICN is collectively blowjobbing the Hughes Bros.?

    by JayLenoTookMyJob

    Just asking.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:57 a.m. CST

    by Cobra--Kai

    Keanu, yeah I raised an eyebrow over CLOVERFIELD too. Like a bad fucking episode of Friends with some fake CGI monsters turning up. Long LONG way from being a classic.<p> As he was talking about little-seen cool genre movies then I think THE MIST would've been a far better choice than crappy CLOVER.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:57 a.m. CST

    looks that way, Jay Leno

    by God's Brother

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 11:58 a.m. CST

    by Cobra--Kai

    gruntybear, don't diss 'moments of silence'... What have they ever done to you?

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 12:01 p.m. CST

    Great film

    by mintoncard

    Saw it last night at a preview event. Exceptional film. Great score too. Go see it "spoiler free" please. You won't regret it.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 12:07 p.m. CST

    Respect for Denzel and FALLEN

    by Unlabled

    I love that movie. Can't wait to see this.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 12:09 p.m. CST

    "a single first pass."

    by schadenfreudian

    That's the only kind of first pas there is.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 12:13 p.m. CST

    Ahh… Six String Samurai

    by DarthChiChi

    That was actually the first movie I thought of when I saw the trailer for this (tongue definitely removed from cheek, though). I love the idea that the book seems to be nothing more than a simple bible. Hop on board the allegory train… Evil men wish to possess it to control humanity. The righteous wish to use it's message to save humanity. Think of the Dark Ages when the Church was the only literate force in the Western world and what that meant for the course of history from then on. This film begins at the dawn of a new Dark Age. Which direction will humanity take this time?

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 12:15 p.m. CST

    I Understand, But That's Heavy-Handed

    by Crow3711

    If its post-apoc, why can't Gary Oldman just come up with his own story? Why does it have ot be the Bible? A book is just a book. Denzel could waltz into town and declare it a fairy tale, and no one would know the difference. It just makes no sense. They are saying the Bible will rebuild and supply power...any story could do that. Hell, I have faith, but for all the actual proof I have none of it could be true at all. I accept that. That is what faith is. Belief in something that you have no proof of. But in the world this movie takes place in...that makes no sense. You could tell them anything. Is just because its written down they'll believe it? What if you found a copy of the Kuran instead? Would that not be good enough? What if it was an Avengers comic book? What is the difference in this time and place?

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 12:16 p.m. CST

    "We are truly in a golden age of genre filmmaking."

    by buggerbugger

    LMAO. The majority of genre filmmaking in this supposed "golden age" has been FUCKING SHITE.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 12:21 p.m. CST

    Nipple..therein lies the hypocrisy and irony

    by BASEMENT_CHEETOH_EATER

    While Eli protects the 'last bible', he does so in a way that sits counter to its teachings. Not going to see it merely because it has a bible in it, is ludicrous. Rethink your view, my friend.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 12:22 p.m. CST

    Crow3711

    by SSquirrel

    Yes but if he can read it he can say "Look it is all written here. It is one of the few things to have survived. This shows how things once were and how together we shall make them be again". That's powerful stuff when you have a bunch of uneducated illiterates on your hands. The Koran would have worked as well.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 12:30 p.m. CST

    Since When is Denzel part of a great movie???

    by RpgSama

    I trust Massawyrm and his judgment, but i don't believe this movie can or will become a classic, Denzel lost his angle, many moons ago, he shouldn't have made the last 34 films with Tony Scott to start...

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 12:31 p.m. CST

    BLADE RUNNER and THE THING both flopped...

    by AsimovLives

    ... during that so-called golden era. Why? Because they were intelligent films which didn't spoon-fed their audiences and don't treat them as retards.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 12:32 p.m. CST

    "Respect for Denzel and FALLEN"

    by palewook

    you might want to look for the fan-edited version of Fallen, "Azazel." <p> fixes a couple things that kept Fallen from being a perfect film.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 12:33 p.m. CST

    ADiehardfanwithalethalweapon

    by TheMandrakeRoot

    Seriously, how fucking shallow do you have to be to make a comment like that. You think Dances With Wolves invented the story it told? Have you seen more then 5 movies?Every movie that comes out could be called a rip-off if you want to generalize so heavily, and there's many of plots that are reused much more often then the one in Avatar, hell most movies are remakes and reboots this day. Avatar tells a classic heroes journey, which is exactly what it needed. Plus, A. What's wrong with a story being updated for each generation...you do you know DWW is a 20 year old film at this point, don't you? And B. If you actually, you know, think about the movie, you'll see that there's many more differences then similarities. I mean off the bat the setting and genre's are completely different. The reason Jake ends up meeting them is also completely different, as is the constant switching back and forth between bodies. Obviously there's a whole other angle of war, tons of sci-fi/fantasy heavy elements, etc. It's only a rip-off if you look at it on the most basic terms possible, as it's obvious there is countless themes and elements explored that DWW never even has a chance of touching on. <p> And yes, it will without a doubt be remembered as a benchmark of cinema. It's one of the most awe-inspiring adventure films ever made.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 12:34 p.m. CST

    And BTW it's Al Green

    by TheMandrakeRoot

    not Greene

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 12:42 p.m. CST

    The book

    by Parallaxmjm

    I think the point here is the Bible is supposed to represent hope and faith to masses, something that will inspire them to survive and rebuild. Just any book doesn't fit the bill. Yes, in theory, a Koran would have worked too. I don't think the idea is we can only rebuild on christian values, just that the book represents faith and hope which is needed if man is to survive.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 12:44 p.m. CST

    No. Slow, tedious, and with a plot that verges on absurd.

    by Executor

    The action is filmed nicely and is the highlight, but in between the movie drags more than the trailer. The plot -- Gary Oldman wants the world's last bible because he thinks it will help him rule the world -- is absurd because it's not thought out. Why does he think it will help him so much? If he thinks it's because people will blindly follow religion, why doesn't he make up his own religion? And if Eli has been walking "30 years" with this bible, why hasn't he covered more ground? <p>lol, if you forget about the plot it's enjoyable, but any movie that you have to give a pass to the plot is NOT a classic.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 12:48 p.m. CST

    An Avengers comic rebuilding civilization

    by JayLenoTookMyJob

    Now THAT'S a movie I'd actually want to see!

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 12:51 p.m. CST

    Executor

    by sirens

    Thanks for the spoilage asshole. That said, go fuck yourself.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 12:54 p.m. CST

    SAW IT LAST NIGHT - HERE'S MY REVIEW

    by Flaggg

    On Suvudu.com: http://tinyurl.com/ycfzl5e This movie is frickin' fantastic! On so many levels. Action. Faith. Story. The duality of the Bible and how it is used in our world. It is a great movie for people who only watch the outside, but for those who enjoy literary sub-textual meanings, THE BOOK OF ELI is exactly what you are looking for.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 12:54 p.m. CST

    Not that I have anything against this flick

    by JayLenoTookMyJob

    It's just that you go in expecting one thing, then get hit over the head with it's blatantly Christian message. It's the cinematic equivalent of those "stress relief" tent clinics the Scientologists always set up at public events. You go in for a stress test, then end up getting the hard sell from L. Ron's legion of zombies. False advertising is what it is. I think this movie is actually sci-fi for the African-American audience, just like Tyler Perry movies are rom-coms for the same audience. The Hughes Bros. know, as does Perry, that to be successful with their target audience, they have to make with a little bit of the Jesus. Not condemning it, but it's not my cup of tea, either. Sorry.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 12:58 p.m. CST

    Good or bad...

    by itstf

    The marketing of this film is a blatant cribbing from "the Book of Jesse" www.bookofjesse.com It would be one thing if Gary Whitta just called it "The Book of Eli", but when Warner Bros puts out, as it's main tool, a poster lifting the title and font of this indie comic's First Volume and using it to get to a comic book movie audience, that's shameless. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?v=wall&gid=262245396416

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 1:01 p.m. CST

    TheMandrakeRoot

    by Jubal_Early

    I liked AVATAR--"liked" as in "while I was in the theater watching it"--and while I agree that it's a landmark film, I think the despondency of some who are dubbed "haters" comes from people who see that a film like this that has ALL of those COOL special FX, something SO REVOLULATIONARY, and also it came from a man who has proven to have so much imaginative power in storytelling, and he couldn't even come up with an original plot/theme? You talk about the whole "jumping back and forth between bodies thing" as being something that separates it from DANCES WITH WOLVES, but it doesn't really--it's just another way of showing the main character "relating" to the natives on a level they can understand. So, really, it's the same. Now, at a certain part in AVATAR, Jake Sully does comment (for all of two seconds) on how it begs the question which is the dream and which is reality, but, alas, AVATAR doesn't pause to really consider these themes and/or implications at all. Not that every movie HAS to be "brainy," but it would be nice to have a filmmaker coming along and FINALLY separate from the herd, completely and utterly. After all, if a blind man sits and watches AVATAR, all he hears is the same KIND of story he's heard a thousand times before, with the same KIND of dialogue he's heard over and over again. I'm not siding with the haters, but I'm saying that I empathize. I too recall how the THE THING was uncompromising in forcing a love interest--hell, there weren't even any women--and how THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY did the same, and so did ALIEN. Those are genre films, of course--Westerns and sci-fi horror--but they STILL set their own voice to cinema history without relying on what was at the time groundbreaking special FX alone. No precise formulas there, and as with TG, TB & TU there is an unpredictability, a real sense of "where is all this going"; hell, the idea that it's gold being searched for as the plot isn't even introduced until halfway through. THAT'S the kind of movies guys like me are waiting for. End rant...phew. (We're all just floating)

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 1:02 p.m. CST

    Also a rip-off of elements of Tim Truman's "Scout"

    by JayLenoTookMyJob

    Post-Apocalyptic America, set mostly in the West, also had a wandering "prophet" character who combined the bible with Tolkein for his new religion. (Which is actually a cooler idea).

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 1:05 p.m. CST

    Of course Massa likes it - "The Bible will save us!"

    by FluffyUnbound

    Bah. I called this threads ago.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 1:14 p.m. CST

    And yes, I would like it better if they burned it.

    by FluffyUnbound

    And not just because I'm anti-Yahwehist, but because it would set up a better conflict: A guy in a "Canticle for Leibowitz" situation fints himself in possession of the last Bible. He is trying to preserve as many books from the destroyed society as he can for the sake of future generations. But he knows how much conflict the Bible has brought into the world, and knows that if he destroys this last copy that all passes out of the world forever with just a whisper of smoke. So does he destroy it, or does he keep it? OK, actually I guess that's a better conflict for a novel; it's so internal that it would be hard to film. But I'd still like it better than this.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 1:59 p.m. CST

    DEATH TO BLUE CAT PEOPLE!

    by elfranco

    I wish BOOK OF ELI would kick AVATAR's ass to the curb. I'm sick and tired of the hyped up Avatar "Breaking all box office records" and people being depressed because the world of Pandora is so perfect. But of course the stupid lemmings have to see their Blue Cat People again.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 2:20 p.m. CST

    "Blade Runner" and "The Thing" flopped because —

    by blakindigo

    — in 1982 the audiences were not interested in 'downers'. It was the same year that "E.T" came out. The general mood of affable sentimentality and escapism was what many people wanted at the time. Those films were a victim of their brilliance, by going against the grain in a time of 'feel-good' optimism and the shift from the post 'Me Generation' thinking.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 2:25 p.m. CST

    Re: Blade Runner flopping

    by HarryCalder

    Keep in mind that the original theatrical release was a pretty shitty version of BR - with that atrocious voice-over. That didn't help its case at all.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 2:31 p.m. CST

    HarryCalder, yeah that surely didn't help.

    by blakindigo

    "I've had a belly full of killing."<br><br>"…That gibberish he was speaking was Cityspeak — Gutter talk. I knew the lingo — any good cop did. But, I wasn't going to make it easier on him…"

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 2:37 p.m. CST

    Blade Runner...

    by tailhook

    and then there was the fact that the film largely sucked and still does. Its the one film i'll never understand the fanboy love for. Mainly because as much as fanboys love to laud the movie.. most probably haven't seen it but once in twenty years. When people go, lets throw on a movie, they don't say Blade Runner. Its a movie that is far better being talked about 20 years after the fact to 'establish your geek cred' than actually being watched, because most people don't actually like the actual film.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 2:44 p.m. CST

    I'm Looking Forward To This

    by kevinwillis.net

    And I think it's cool that the book is a Bible. However, it being the last Bible without some sort of explanation of how there's only one of the most common, most printed book in the history of the planet seems a little weird. There's one in every frickin' drawer of most hotels and motels. Dozens if not hundreds of Bibles in every church. Their in every book store. In many, many, many homes--and many have several. How could there still be desolate towns and whatnot, yet only one Bible left?<br><br>It would be more believable if he had the last iPod.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 2:47 p.m. CST

    The Big Twit: After All the Fighting

    by kevinwillis.net

    They realized that, in every intact hotel and in most intact homes, there's a Bible. That there are Bible's in a few in tact libraries, a few bookstores. In fact, there are more Bibles in the post apocalyptic world than Dan Brown paperbacks, setting up the sequel: "The Book of Dan Brown"

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 2:47 p.m. CST

    Original Title was supposed to be iPod of Eli

    by kevinwillis.net

    It just makes more sense. Gary Oldman wants it so bad, because it's the last dang iPod.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 2:50 p.m. CST

    tailhook, that's like saying "2001" largely sucked…

    by blakindigo

    it's an opinion. I haven't met a SF fan, comic book artist, or cinemaphile that dislikes the movie. Even if they dislike elements, NONE of them would dismiss the film out of hand. People ADORE "Blade Runner". Maybe you weren't old enough to see the film during it's original release. People talked about that movie constantly, anticipating it's vhs debut just to discuss the world while quoting lines that they loved.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 2:58 p.m. CST

    elfranco:Good, TheMandrakeRoot:silly

    by butterbean

    Avatar was not awe-inspiring. It was "ow" inspiring, as in "Ow, my ass is falling asleep, when is this bore-fest over?"

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 3:02 p.m. CST

    blakindigo: How did Ford do the ADR without vomiting?

    by HarryCalder

    I remembered the voiceovers as pretty terrible, but damn, they were truly appalling...

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 3:08 p.m. CST

    A Beretta in the butt beats a bayonet in the boot...

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    ...eh, Blake?

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 3:10 p.m. CST

    Wait, wait, wait - now we're hating on Blade Runner?

    by gruntybear

    Stop the world, motherfuckers, 'cuz I wanna get off. I nominate this sentence as the most bugfuck INSANE comment that anyone has ever said on an AICN TalkBack: "[Blade Runner is] a movie that is far better being talked about 20 years after the fact to 'establish your geek cred' than actually being watched, because most people don't actually like the actual film." Motherfucker, puh-leez. Clearly, you've been frolicking a bit too much in the smurfy-smurfness of Pandora. The mind just boggles at such chuckle-headed stupidity. And we wonder why good genre filmmaking is, by and large, dead these days. Enjoy your mo-capped 3D cartoons, kiddies, 'cuz that's all you're liable to get for the foreseeable future.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 3:31 p.m. CST

    Or eustisclay...

    by Massawyrm 1

    ...you don't have the sense of perspective to realize that if film critics from the 80's looked forward in time to see that we considered Gremlins, Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, The Thing and Predator classics, they would beat us to death with Betamax copies of The Natural, Wings of Desire and Sophie's Choice. Trust me, 20 years from now those will be widely held by the dominant critical set as defining this era.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 3:38 p.m. CST

    We got the word "Apocalypse" itself from the Bible!

    by ReportAbuse

    The Bible sounds like the perfect hard-R-rated book for a film like this or any film like this. Although the Gospels have a certain hippy-trippy vibe (epitomized by adaptations like GODSPELL) which has turned a lot of gorehounds off of the book, they only represent a small portion of the Bible as a whole. Lots of it -- especially in the Old Testament, but even in the NT -- is pretty kick-ass, hack-and-slash type stuff. An ancient Israelite might not feel out of place in one of these post-Apocalyptic cheezefests in which the whole world has, basically, been bombed back to a condition of rubble and hard living that isn't so different from Palestine BC (or parts of 21st-century Afghanistan as it were.) The Bible is a good reminder that disaster is always just around the corner.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 3:39 p.m. CST

    ...I didn't know this is where all the action was...

    by FlickaPoo

    ...damn.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 3:47 p.m. CST

    The last book will outlast the last iPod / Kindle

    by ReportAbuse

    In a world without batteries or rechargers ... (I sound like that Voiceover guy from all the trailers, lol) all electronic media will quickly become useless. OTOH, we have still have thousand year old books around (and some two-thousand year old scrolls) that are still readable (if you can understand the language.) Images on metal will last the longest and be the most easily decipherable ... thus the little man from mens' room doors will outlast most of our "litra-chure" and probably be mistaken for an idol of some sort millennia from now.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 3:52 p.m. CST

    Or we will worship the Half Moon!

    by cookylamoo

    on the door of the outhouse.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 4:26 p.m. CST

    Uhhhhh

    by CrunchyMilk

    I'll ask again, what exactly does 'genre film' mean?

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 4:33 p.m. CST

    its no more religious than Avatar or anything else

    by BMacSmith

    just a different mythology, so to speak. and it makes sense given the setting. plus it could be construed as anti-christian in many ways. it was an ok movie, not great but im a sucker for post apocalyptic crap like this.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 4:39 p.m. CST

    some of you dumbasses really dont get it, hahah

    by BMacSmith

    its as much about the negative end of religion (using it for control, justifying violence, etc) as it is the positive. if Denzel were a buddhist monk or some bullshit treee worshiper no one would have a problem with it, but because people bring a hardcore hatred of christianity (im not a bible thumper btw) they cant see past it. that makes it pretty interesting by itself.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 6:22 p.m. CST

    I Saw It Today. A Very Subversive Film

    by cymbalta4thedevil

    Hopefully it will make both people who are religious and people who aren't religious think about the role religion plays in people's lives, both positively and negatively. And reconsider their own assumptions. A worthy addition to the post apocalyptic genre.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 6:26 p.m. CST

    An entire review without a single mention of

    by The Gospel According to Bastardface

    the writer; the person who dreamed it up, sat down and wrote it. Gary Whitta. <p> Show some love to the fucking writer, Massa. It's not all actors and directors. None of thems sign on without a script, without a story... <p> We so devalue the writer, it's no wonder we get such shitty films. Studios know no one cares about the progenitors, the storytellers in the truest sense. <p> Oy.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 6:38 p.m. CST

    the big twist at the end was utterly moronic, but

    by BMacSmith

    i enjoyed it. (im talking about the ****spoiler***** "blindness" thing)

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 6:56 p.m. CST

    Sorry, Massa

    by oisin5199

    As much as I have kid love for the 80s movies you mentioned, Wings of Desire is still a classic that nothing else can touch. And I don't think it ever came out on Betamax. That was already dead.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 7:11 p.m. CST

    ReportAbuse moron

    by happyboy

    The word apocalypse is Greek. And the literal definition of the word isn't near what you think it is. Also you ever go to Sunday school? The "hippie" stuff is what Christianity is about. Most of the armageddon stuff is Old Testament allegory to Hebrew suffering or political commentary by Christians in the 1-4 centuries about persecution. It's not literal prophecy. And current cultural ideas of a "Christian" "end of times" owes more to remaining heathen elements (ragnarok etc) than any citations in the Christian bible. As for the "golden age" of genre filmmaking. Sure boy! Star Trek and Iron Man sure are epic stuff. Be sure to also put in 24 as the most awesome TV show ever, Daily Show as the best political commentary ever and South Park as the best satire ever!!!!!!!! Worst reviewer on the site.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 7:53 p.m. CST

    Apocalypse

    by ReportAbuse

    (Or Apokalips for you Kirby fans) I know what it means, it means Unveiling, same as Revelation, but this does not nullify my point about where we got the word in the first place, the Bible (the Book of Revelation sometimes being referred to as the Apocalypse of St. John). And though it only means Unveiling, which sounds fairly tame, the implication / connotation is that this Unveiling comes at the end of time and a lot of unpleasant stuff gets associated with it like plagues and wars and all that Manson stuff so it's not totally unconnected. ("Armageddon," which is often taken as synonymous with Apocalypse, refers to a big battle that takes place in an area with that name, Har-Megiddo.) Are you suggesting there are "heathen elements" in the Book of Revelation? 'Cause a lot of those "cultural ideas" are in there.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 8:21 p.m. CST

    SEE THIS!!!

    by BranMakMorn

    All the discussion about the bible isn't centered around whether this is GOD's book in the film. In fact, much of what the critics of the bible here have said actually works FOR the film's premise. This was just fun stuff and it caught me by surprise how much I liked it.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 10:04 p.m. CST

    oisin5199

    by Massawyrm 1

    I have mad respect for Wings of Desire. Those were not meant to be insulting titles, but rather Best of the Era titles that Critics would point to over mainstream films like those I mentioned.

  • Jan. 15, 2010, 10:46 p.m. CST

    All you Geeks on this Site

    by cymbalta4thedevil

    And nobody mentions that Ray Stevenson is whistling a Morricone theme in the movie? For Shame...

  • Jan. 16, 2010, 1:38 a.m. CST

    cymbalta4thedevi, glad somebody caught that—

    by blakindigo

    — I smiled 'big yella' during that scene…

  • Jan. 16, 2010, 1:44 a.m. CST

    Hating on Blade Runner now? Really?

    by SK229

    I watch that movie at least once every six months, especially now having it in HD, and YES, I love the shit out of it. It's a fucking MONUMENTAL cinematic and philosophical achievement... I don't think Scott has ever come close to what he achieved there and probably never will. I'm not some all sci-fi, anime loving fanboy either, most of my other favorites are 70's films like Dog Day Afternoon, Straight Time, and The Last Detail.<p> It just so happens that Blade Runner says a lot about us as a species (much like Clockwork Orange) and where we're going... to me, it was so far ahead of it's time as to be almost like PKD traveled into the future in order to write his stories and he let Ridley borrow the time machine in order to design BR. I can understand not liking the movie, but outright dismissing it? No fucking way...

  • Jan. 16, 2010, 2:33 a.m. CST

    Timothy Truman's Scout?

    by Star Hump

    Nice to see that great comic mentioned. Now THAT would make a great flick.

  • Jan. 16, 2010, 8:33 a.m. CST

    Idk massa, this looks pretty stupid.

    by dr sauch

    I can't get over the fact that it's a Bible. That really turns me off.

  • Jan. 16, 2010, 9:47 a.m. CST

    It's not that it's a Bible but the faith and power behind it

    by The Founder

    I think the people that visit this site above the average movie goer would get the meaining of the Bible instead of it just being a book with pages and words. Good film.

  • Jan. 16, 2010, 11:44 a.m. CST

    Bible

    by jsm1978

    So the anti-religion faction on here is always saying that religion was just devised as a means to control people, and now we have a movie that has a character trying to get the last Bible presumably as a means to try to control people... and they cry foul saying it should be a book about growing crops or something.<p> Makes about as much sense as most of what gets said here, I suppose.

  • Jan. 16, 2010, 12:21 p.m. CST

    Okay, I'll seee it...

    by Gozu

    I've read enough good reviews to give it a shot and I'm an atheist, so there, happy? I still like the guy who said if it's really the last one, get some fucking paper and start making copies as opposed to wandering around aimlessly in the Cursed Earth.

  • Jan. 16, 2010, 1:51 p.m. CST

    SK229 = Professional

    by blakindigo

    As is usually the case…I agree with you…

  • Jan. 16, 2010, 7:57 p.m. CST

    there was no chance in hell this would get a negative review fro

    by Osiris3657

    (pun intended in title) because it got to host a free screening of the film in return for a guaranteed positive word. That being said I enjoyed it, I was entertained. Some major WTF moments though, and Kunis is miscast.

  • Jan. 16, 2010, 10:35 p.m. CST

    A couple scenes had a Gunslinger vibe

    by YoyodynePropulsionSystems

    Good movie...the religious questioning made the god/guns audience here in Idaho extremely uncomfortable. Some even got up and left. pretty sweet movie.

  • Jan. 16, 2010, 11:18 p.m. CST

    Movie is an insult to any true movie fan

    by Cshores

  • Jan. 17, 2010, 12:36 a.m. CST

    why does everything have to be about faith

    by rajium32

    Its getting old, and its insulting.

  • Jan. 17, 2010, 3:47 a.m. CST

    rajium32

    by Aquanaut

    because most of america claims to be christian or at the very least "spiritual", though most "christians" follow little of the bible. so movies featuring matters of faith are an easy way to reach the common denominator and get butts in seats. belief in a god is just a convenient good-guy badge.if you don't believe, you might as well be the slimy, cynical skeptic in a santa claus movie.

  • Jan. 17, 2010, 10:47 a.m. CST

    Does ANYONE realize this is a REMAKE?

    by CaptGrogan

    Massawyrm missed the boat here. This is a reimaging of the old Sean Connery movie Zardoz. Its the one where he basically wears a red diaper throughout the whole movie. As corny and hyper-macho as Zardoz is, it carries a message about the futility of religion and how ridiculous humanity can be when told something comes from God. SOILERS - In zardoz, the book the warrior carries, is The Wizard of Oz, and we find that out at the very end. Throughout the film there are references to the book being from God, being a Holy book etc, and when its revealed to be the Wizard of Oz, the audience "gets it." The film is a commentary, and it carries a message about the perils of believing in anything too much. In the Book Of Eli? The book is the Bible, and that's the problem. It over simplifies the message to the point of missing the message. There are other differences, such as in the first film Sean Connery meets two women and has interaction with them both. They are man-hating scientists and well, ahem, you can guess how Connery "cures" them of that. In the book of Eli, the women are changed to prostitues and Denzel? Well, Denzel prays. Sigh. On its own, its a mildly entertaining popcorn flick. But its a remake stripped of all semblance of story telling and boiled down so that idiots can digest it without having to think too hard. Very surprising no ones aware of the remake angle...

  • Jan. 17, 2010, 12:54 p.m. CST

    It's not about money....

    by PoeticWarriortoo

    It's not about BO receipts, it's not about critics. It's about quality. And that list of modern movies isn't fit to shine the ass of the classics that came out in the 80's. PERIOD. End of story.

  • Jan. 17, 2010, 4:29 p.m. CST

    iPod

    by cylon_conspiracy

    <p>I believe I participated in the discussion at the site mentioned about how dumb it would be to have an iPod in the future... glad to see that it is indeed more grounded in reality.</p> <p>Even if he meant a different site, my position was that it is really lame to nitpick stuff on this level. So now the person who wrote that piece should feel pretty dumb for jumping to conclusions.</p>

  • Jan. 17, 2010, 9:38 p.m. CST

    Aquanaut

    by rajium32

    I agree. However, it was a rhetorical question. I am simply tired of the typical good guy badge. I find faith to be very much the opposite of good in many ways. I am tired of religion or faith undermining many explorative (exploratory) narratives. It's a big budget film, I know. It needs to make money, got it. Let the kids go watch their movie.

  • Jan. 17, 2010, 9:49 p.m. CST

    futhermore. . .

    by rajium32

    I have no idea if you yourself were criticizing the viewpoint or championing it, but idea that a skeptic is slimy is ridiculously insulting to both good story writing and me personally. A Santa Claus movie without the skeptic however, does leave little left to write about, hehe.

  • Jan. 18, 2010, 3:06 a.m. CST

    rajium32

    by Aquanaut

    we appear to be very much on the same page

  • Jan. 18, 2010, 12:20 p.m. CST

    Denzel? Samurai? Nuff said..

    by Dark Doom

    I'm packing up my Katanas, Ninjato and going down to Best Buy and getting this. But what's with the "Wings of Desire" bash? WTF?

  • Jan. 18, 2010, 4:30 p.m. CST

    Yeah, but he loved Taken, so what does that say?

    by coconutgroves

    That means this one must suck ass. I'll be staying away from it.

  • Jan. 19, 2010, 7:33 a.m. CST

    Again makes no sense

    by The StarWolf

    Whether the Bible is what the world needs to save it is irrelevant to me. The problem I have is that he's got the last one?! Excuse me? Since Guttenberg started the printing press business centuries ago, the Bible is only the single most reprinted work of Man. EVER! Yet we're supposed to believe there's only one of them out there?! I can't count how many ways that just doesn't make sense.

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 2:25 p.m. CST

    I've figured it out!

    by Colin62

    If Harry reviews a movie at any time near its actual release date and likes it, and Wyrm likes it, that is the worst movie you will ever see and you should kill yourself before you have to watch handicapped people fighting over a bible.

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 2:27 p.m. CST

    Also

    by Colin62

    Wyrm, you have absolutely AWFUL taste. I hope you're just a fake personality that gets paid to give shitty movies a boost. Because the alternative is just terrible.

  • March 21, 2010, 4:02 a.m. CST

    Mila as the new Eli?

    by thatpussywonteatitself

    oj puhleeeez.... That fuckin' last shot was a bit much. Didn't buy that. Mila Kulnis is good for fucking not saving the world.... That reveal aboout Eli at the end was a shocker... did not see that coming... It made sense after that. Only a guy with that kind of thAng may not want to FUCK Mila Kulnis.... kind of...

  • May 30, 2010, 3:18 p.m. CST

    Cool, but flawed

    by DeusMaximus

    I loved the sentiment, loved the fact that power comes with a price and once you loose your footing power can be taken away with a whim of a blind girl. So yeah I liked the whole We are screwed as a race thing, indeed liked the samurai quality of Mr. Washington, the way he handled himself and the way Mila reacted to him. Especially the whole what is that in regards to the Ipod and to things we so readily take for granted these days. I loved the old gunhappy people eating couple. But what I really don't get is the choice of the different styles. Slow motioned then action. Really made for overthinking and such, but I had the same with Antichrist, but that worked in that movie I think. Ah well. it was a cool movie overall.