The BOOK OF ELIWarner Home Video

“You know the only good thing about no soap…is that you can smell hijackers a mile off.”

Eli walks alone in post-apocalyptic America.  He heads west along the Highway of Death on a mission he doesn’t fully understand but knows he must complete.  In his backpack is the last copy of a book that could become the wellspring of a revived society.  Or in the wrong hands, the hammer of a despot.  Eli, who keeps his blade sharp and his survival instincts sharper as his quest thrusts him into a savage wasteland…and into explosive conflict with a resourceful warlord set on possessing the book.

Well, I’ll be.  Not much for post-apocalyptic type movies, really.  Though I heard about how good The Book Of Eli was from those who saw it in theaters back when it was first released, and even those later after the DVD was out.  No, my general thoughts on the Post Apocalyptic Sci-Fi genre is, you’ve seen one and you’ve seen them all.  Really.  All you need to do is watch Mad Max and Escape From New York, and you pretty much have the gist of the Post Apocalyptic genre.  Sure, there are some out there that have given decent spins on the formula, but overall these pieces have stuck to the same variations of post-nuclear war scorched land, mutant scavengers, lone protagonist, and so forth and so on.  Once in a while, someone substitutes “mutant scavengers” with “zombies” or “vampires”, or “zombie vampires”, or whatnot.  Which is not to say that the Post Apocalyptic genre is in desperate need of a revamp.  It’s just that, you know what to expect, really.

And, to its credit, The Book Of Eli doesn’t try to reinvent the Post Apocalyptic movie.  And also to its credit, they didn’t feel the need to stick a lot of slick, convoluted heavily CG’ed action sequences in here, like so many have in recent years.  No, The Book Of Eli was a surprisingly engaging tale of a man who, after the “big flash” or whatever it was that took out society, hears God’s voice telling him to take a special book across the country.  Along the way, wackiness ensues when he encounters some less-than-altruistic types, including the Mayor of a cobbled-together desert town who wants the book for the power it has.  And Mila Kunis becomes his sidekick for the final leg of his journey, and then Malcolm McDowell shows up.

Overall, I found The Book Of Eli a rather good character-driven story set in the post-apocalyptic future (how many times can I type that in one review, I wonder).  Denzel Washington was perfect as the flawed servant of God, and Gary Oldman – who is possibly the greatest living character actor ever – shines as the builder mogul of the unnamed ramshackle town Eli happens into, playing a good contrast to Washington’s Eli.  Mind you, there are some really good action scenes here, which are not overdone like they could have been.  The use of CG is minimal, and overall the cinematography was done really well.

At the end of it all, I have to say that The Book Of Eli was well worth my time watching, even if it was a DVD rental a couple of years after its release.  Might have to get my own copy and see if there’s a commentary track on that some time in the near future.  Recommended.