ReviewWriter: Ezekiel Lee Zhiang YangWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
“The Road”, “Time Of The Wolf”, “Waterworld”
The end may be nigh but not for post-apocalyptic movies. Denzel Washington's survivor feature "The Book Of Eli" is a well-contained, half-engaging, action drama best commended for not resorting to the all-too-easy wasteland CGI we've been seeing too much lately in movies like "2012" and "I Am Legend". Directing it are the Hughes twins ("From Hell", "Menace II Society") who give the picture an ashen sepia feel all throughout Eli's decimated dystopia, an illiterate world populated with rummaging cannibals and "Mad Max" characters.
While the picture isn't particularly rich nor does it have too many important cultural references, "Book Of Eli" is steady and focused, just like the titular journeyman (Washington) who has been walking West for 30 years carrying the last bible on Earth, which happens to be a KJV - that's the standard, most popular bible for all English-speaking Protestant Christians; and villainous town elder Carnegie (Gary Oldman) has set his eyes on it. Joining the story are loyal concubine Claudia (Jessica Beals, "Flashdance") and her bratty-but-seeking daughter Solara (Mila Kunis, "That '70s Show"). Other notable appearances include Tom Waits ("Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus") and Malcolm McDowell ("A Clockwork Orange").
It's peculiar that co-producer Washington has to play a restrained, charmless hero here, when the story could have benefited with an anti-hero or villain who trash-talks, something he's more adept at doing in movies like "Training Day" and "American Gangster"; or an outright, desperate good guy in movies like "John Q" and "Fallen". The direction doesn't allow for his powerhouse acting and nobody watching this film for him would be pleased with the experience because the movie doesn't really need him at all. Despite a solid premise, the corresponding lack of engaging dialogue between all characters won't sit well with those who came expecting a thinking man's action movie.
"The Book Of Eli" will go down as a missed opportunity but studio suits won't be in a hurry to shout remake or sequel, which would be a good progression. The last shot with Mila Kunis does make her look like a leaner Angelina Jolie playing Terminator's Sarah Connor. Someone ought to redo this quickly. Cinema Online, 18 February 2010