Friday, February 11, 2011

Not Even If You Were Blind

Book of Eli (2010) – Albert Hughes, Dir.


That is really enough. There are lots of movies out there. No one has enough time to consume them all much less all the books and articles we want to read, the games we want to play, the people we want to chat up. So cross this one off your list. If you are looking for a post-apocalyptic fix, watch Mad Max or even Escape from LA, play Fallout 3, and if you want a spiritual fix to go with your post-apocalypticism, read A Canticle for Leibowitz, but do not spend two of your glorious free hours on this movie.

I wanted to see Book of Eli. I saw the previews. I like Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman. I’m a fan of science fiction and post-apocalyptic stories. I am THE target audience.

Yet, I found nothing redeeming in this movie at all. I ask one thing from science fiction movies: namely, show me something about the future that you have imagined. It is a low bar. Think about Kevin Costner’s two widely panned science fiction movies, The Postman and Waterworld. Both met this standard despite being deeply flawed movies. They imagined future worlds and they populated them with social, technological, and other changes which fit into those worlds. Book of Eli has no such imagination. No one has webbed feet. There are no cool inventions to deal with the new landscape. There are no intriguing social forms the survivors have adopted. It’s the Old West with an iPod mechanic and the people are mean and violent. Denzel hurts people with a knife. There’s nothing else.

Here’s the entire movie, you’ll know everything I saw when you finish this paragraph: Denzel is a bad ass. Gary Oldman is a bad man. Denzel has the book. Gary wants the book. Many people that are not even given names die. Gary wins the book and loses. Denzel loses the book and wins. There is one surprising revelation which made the movie less believable than it already was. Hints of cannibalism. Two hours ticked by. The end.

This movie had a big budget. The Hughes Brothers, who produced and directed, are well liked. Denzel is a good actor. Something worthy of note should have happened over the course of two hours. Nothing did.

Book of Eli has a 48% on Rotten Tomatoes. I read some of the positive reviews and wonder if I was watching the same movie. Or maybe whether the other reviewers have ever seen another movie in the genre. Please do something else with your two hours.

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