Resurrected & recommended, vol. 1

FILM – “The Book of Eli”

It’s hard to explain why this film was good without giving away its big reveal. The big reveal isn’t what makes it good, but it retro-actively brings a dimension to the film where you think back on everything that just happened.

Okay, so what has happened? Apparently the Earth got fucked, big time. So much so that the sky is a permanent state of colorless ash, which blends nicely with the ashen landscape, and the ash-colored outfit star Denzel Washington wears throughout. Even the blood he releases from the scavenger scum he defends himself against brandishing the world’s first air-hole cooled machete … is ash gray. Color is almost wasted on this apocalyptic epic, but not quite – it somehow looks cool and different.

Survivor ‘Eli’ (Denzel) wanders westward through barren landscape and rubble cities protecting a large book from Gary Oldman, who is obviously enjoying himself in a villainous romp as the ruthless boss of one such rubble city who would do anything to get his hands on ‘the book.’ And, let’s face it, we all know what the book is before we even taken two steps into this adventure. What fascinates is, no matter what camp you come from, whether revering or refuting such book, you will be totally satisfied and equally validated. Oldman’s character needs the book to help him enslave what’s left of humanity with its Pavlovian piety (he sees it as an instruction manual to replace thought with blind devotion if you use the right ‘chosen’ words). And Eli needs the book to, well, keep the faith, brother. He simply IS blind devotion.

Action junkies will love the ninja-style scenes in which our hero dispatches scavenger scum, and Oldman’s henchmen. That 70’s Show fans will blink in wondrous double take at Milo Kunis pulling off a tough chick piece of good acting as Eli’s lately acquired road companion. And the rest of us will just get off on a well-told and visually rewarding science fiction tale with a nifty twist that makes you re-evaluate and question everything you just witnessed.

Maybe you caught this at the theater when it was released. Sadly I didn’t. Ignorantly, I was at the OTHER ash-colored apocalyptic road walking movie starring Viggo Mortensen and plainly called The Road. That one got more media hype (it was based on Cormac McCarthy’s prize-winning novel) and did better at the box office, but was so bleak it left me as cold as you-know-who’s stiff dead corpse at the end . This one left me surprised and entertained. It was definitely a ‘better’ Road Less Travelled.

Check it out and … ‘keep the faith,’ brother.

— A. Wayne Carter

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