REVIEW: The Book of Eli

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The Book of Eli is the story of a man’s journey across the barren wasteland of a world destroyed by war.  It’s a story of human nature and faith, and I really enjoyed it.

Everything on the screen looks amazing from the first frame. The presentation is visually stunning using a stark and desaturated palette that perfectly suits the world the story takes place in. A large number of close-ups begin many of the scenes, giving them an epic quality. These shots almost seemed to be overused at one point, but turned out to be an excellent storytelling device as the focus of the close-ups shifts late in the movie.

The score and audio effects used were also amazing, adding a real depth to events.  In particular, two scenes featuring brutal attacks on a defenseless Mila Kunis and the final confrontation between Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman were incredibly powerful as the sound almost went to white noise, overloading my senses.

If there was anything to complain about it was that some of the visuals drew my attention away from the story. At times, Eli’s clothes looked too clean. After a fairly graphic fight scene there was almost not enough blood on the ground. Too much water was spilled for the value that was placed on it, and I couldn’t help but notice some product/brand placement.  There has also been some criticism of the similarities between The Book of Eli and an indie comic published a few years ago called The Book of Jesse. I don’t know much about the comic (although I plan to investigate), but a lot of the rumblings over it seem superficial.

Some complaints were overheard on the way out about the movie being too religious, but let’s face it, if you didn’t know that going in, I don’t know how you even knew about the movie. It’s fairly obvious that there are religious and faith based themes involved.  I even saw buses that read “rELIgion is power” advertising the movie; it’s not like this was a secret.  Even so, where things could have gotten heavy-handed and sanctimonious in the film, they didn’t. The filmmakers went with a subtle approach that I really appreciated.

I’d see The Book of Eli again in a heartbeat.  In fact, I’m planning to. However, if you don’t like the idea of God contaminating your post-apocalyptic samurai Western, this isn’t for you.