Friday, January 15, 2010

Movie Review: The Book of Eli

I come by my love of apocalyptic movies honesty. My parents have seen every apocalyptic movie from Mad Max to 28 Day Later to 2012... and loved them all. (In fact, they would probably be appalled at the list I just wrote and would want me to amend it to include other obscure titles that were before my time.) They are super fans of science fiction. And while I really do love movies that chronicle what people do when the world around them is falling apart, and while that is clearly a genetic condition, I generally prefer the more "action-oriented" versions, e.g. Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, and 2012 are notable examples.

Seriously, don't roll your eyes at me, its just true - I like movies that give me just enough of cities being destroyed (or having been destroyed) without the content being too bleak. I do have Positivity as a strength, after all.

Well, my parents are in LA this weekend and mentioned they'd like to go see a movie while we were at Universal City/Studios - and since I love going to movies, and because we get a $7 rebate on Universal parking when you see a movie there, I was IN! They suggested we see "The Book of Eli" and I was game, though a little uneasy. But I don't want to be that girl that only sees comedies, romantic comedies, and action movies, so I agreed.

The Book of Eli takes place 30 years after a nuclear holocaust has decimated the world. The super-strength sun forces everyone to wear shades when outside and chapstick is at a minimum. Hijackers lurk to kill you, take your stuff, and BBQ your body, and the road you are walking on may end mid-bridge. It centers on a man, Denzel Washington, who is traveling west. In his possession is a book - one of the few left in the world. It just so happens that the book is a King James Bible - the only bible left in the world. The man runs into some trouble when encountering the leader of a town, who coincidentally is collecting books in search of..... yes, you are probably guessing it right now.

I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie. Its not super fast-paced (though there are some very graphic fight scenes that I closed my eyes through completely), its shot with low color saturation so that while visually striking it is sort of one-note, the characters are somewhat charicatures, and sometimes the clothes people wear (Denzel in particular) don't look quite ratty enough.

Those all being said, I found this movie thought-provoking, entertaining, and encouraging.

Denzel (in interviews) says this movie is not about religion, its about good and evil. I think its about both. It reminded me how vital the ability to read the bible was to the spread of Christianity around the world (and in that way, how vital the printing press was to making the bible accessible). It reminded me how important it is to read the bible regularly, if you believe that it really is a book which should guide your life. It reminded me that in times of great distress, people are anxious for hope and telling them about God helps them. It reminded me that religion can be used to both bless and serve our communities but that it can also be used to control and manipulate the weak and powerless. And it reminded me that there will always be people who desire to manipulate and control the weak and powerless (especially using religion) and that I have to be willing to stand up against them.

Talking about the movie afterward with my parents, the whole plot seemed to light up with little foreshadowings and clues that we didn't recognize at the time. Some will disagree with me, but I think it's a smart movie if you are willing to let it rattle around in your brain a bit.

And for those of you who like action movies, occasionally Denzel uses a big, sharp knife to defend himself.

The Book of Eli rates 4 pairs of sunglasses out of 5 from me.


the hamster said...

this is a fantastic review. and any excitement i had to see this movie just multiplied several times over. once i see this and get my own hamsterian review together, i'll be back for more discussions. in the meantime, keep this kind of content up.

fblife said...

ohh...I've been wanting to see this and now I'm really excited! Thanks for the review!

Tiffani R said...

A friend of mine who writes for Christianity Today did an interview with Denzel that you might like:

:) Tiff