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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Gary Oldman
Mila Kunis
Denzel Washington
Ray Stevenson
Larramie Doc Shaw
Jennifer Beals
Michael Gambon.
Directors
Albert Hughes
Allen Hughes.
Screenwriters
Running Time
117 minutes

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The Book Of Eli
Denzel Washington as a different sort of holy roller


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Plot
Thirty years after an atomic war, Eli (Denzel Washington) walks across a ravaged America, guarding his most precious possession – a book. Carnegie (Gary Oldman), boss of a small town, wants the book, which he thinks will give him power. When Eli escapes from town with Carnegie’s adopted daughter Solara (Mila Kunis), Carnegie and his gang set out in pursuit.


Review
The Book Of Eli
Traditionally, when a major studio released a big, pompous science fiction film, someone enterprising (usually Roger Corman) got out a leaner, meaner, funnier version of the same idea: Rollerball was trumped by Death Race 2000 and Jurassic Park had less hungry genetically-engineered dinosaurs than Carnosaur. This Hughes Brothers comeback ought to be the Corman version of The Road, but carries over too much of the deadening respectability of the higher-profile picture.

Introduced aiming a home-made bow at a hairless cat he hopes to have for dinner and scavenging for a new pair of walkin’ boots, Denzel Washington makes for a glum hero – he moves at such a steady pace you can actually believe he’s liable to spend thirty whole years walking across America. In the tradition of Mad Max (not to mention Shane or the Man With No Name), Eli just wants to move on peaceably, but keeps running into folks who give him hassle, prompting displays of machete-swishing martial arts which leave circles of dying, dismembered thugs littering the landscape. Also, like every other loner hero in the movies, he runs into a ruthless varmint who wants something from him and attracts helpless womenfolk who need protection.

Luckily, the Brothers hired Gary Oldman to play the tyrant of the wastelands: his canny, squirming, amused baddie lifts what would otherwise be a complete downer enlivened only by bursts of violence and moments of laughable solemnity. In fact, this grey, blasted, muddy wasteland (the whole film seems to have been shot through ash-coloured lenses) is home to a surprising number of eccentric British character actors, suggesting that the Hughes’ still have the UK casting directories they needed for From Hell.

Besides Michael Gambon and Frances de la Tour as folksy old-time cannibals with an arsenal under the sofa, there’s room for white-maned Malcolm McDowell, taking care of humanity’s cultural heritage like the book-memorisers at the end of Fahrenheit 451.

Given that the leather-bound tome Eli treasures is embossed with a crucifix, it’s not much of a surprise when we find out what it is, though there’s a twist (two, in fact) to come when it’s opened. Playing to the religiosity common in latterday apocalypses (from The Stand to Children of Men via those Left Behind movies), Eli’s literary devotion is more giggly than inspirational. Frankly, it would be more affecting if humanity’s last hope rested in almost any other book than the one chosen here – Tristram Shandy, David Copperfield, the Empire Movie Almanac. Denz reads scripture as if he really means it, but the film is happier when Eli’s prayers are rewarded by a gun which magically doesn’t run out of bullets and his waif disciple devastates the baddies’ convoy with a miracle grenade.


Verdict
Mad Max 2 with Thought for the Day thrown in. There’s some ace post-holocaust action, but you can’t help feel you were invited to a party with fizzy pop and cream cake and got suckered into a sermon instead.


Reviewed by Kim Newman

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Book Of Eli
Empire Star Rating

RE: The Book of Eli

Hi all. Just registered on the forum. I want to help fans of the film. For those who want to watch a movie online give the links: http://5movies.org/movie/book-eli http://putlocker.com/file/PRZBNS6K0I88G0 http://sockshare.com/file/JCW0ZBMGFVCC80 ... More

Posted by Bird_Stonee at 15:32, 09 May 2012 | Report This Post


7/10 for me, reviewed.

This road is no place for you.   The Book of Eli is directed by The Hughes Brothers and written by Gary Whitta. It stars Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, Ray Stevenson and Jennifer Beales. Music is by Atticus Ross and photography by Don Burgess. Story is set thirty years after a nuclear war and finds Washington as Eli, who is travelling on foot across the desolated landscape to the West of the United States to deliver a sacred book. It’s a journey fraught with danger, more s... More

Posted by JohnChard at 23:18, 26 March 2012 | Report This Post


The Book of Eli

2 stars is a bit harsh I'd give it 3 personally due to the fact and at no point did I feel bored watching this and I was still compelled to see how things transpired. As mentioned in the Empire review Gary Oldman was great and even though Denzel Washington was required to play a humorless bugger he still did it well - you can't really blame him for being a depressed fucker he opening where a gasmasked stranger kills a cat with an arrow while ash falls all around was actually quite a stark and ... More

Posted by Fluke Skywalker at 15:53, 22 March 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Night Shyamalan meets Mad Max. But watch it anyway (flaps hand).

The Book of Eli Post apocalyptic, sometimes entertaining mess of a movie about a guy who is trying to preserve a sacred book (can you guess which one?) which is apparently key to the salvation of mankind, despite the fact that it is cited as the cause of mankind's downfall and is clearly shown within the film itself to be a force for evil far more than for good, but then logic has never been the strong point of religion I suppose... But if you can ignore the absolutely nonsensical ... More

Posted by KeithM at 23:42, 02 May 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Better than I thought it would be...

L: wgfuzzydunlop1 For example, how did he know his battery was low at the start of the film? aybe cause it stopped playing music . . . Thought this was a very good film, twist was unexpected. Washington and Oldman were great, enjoyable cameos from Gambon and your one from Rising Damp and Mila Kunis is a babe. Don't see the problem, it wasn't even that preachy it merely presented us with an idea that I thought was quite interesting. ... More

Posted by musht at 01:09, 24 January 2011 | Report This Post


RE: The Book Of Eli

I was surprised by the bad review from Empire! I watched it, expecting something mediocre, but it exceeded my expectations. A good story with a great twist/ending. After you see the ending, all of the little things suddenly become very clever. 4-and-a-half stars. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by velpix at 18:03, 05 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: 2 stars no way!

L: Deviation L: lukeyboy Two stars for this movie is just plain silly. think it pretty much is right. sp; Then i think your just plain silly too.... ... More

Posted by lukeyboy at 09:29, 03 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: 2 stars yes...way?

L: matty_b L: Deviation The twist is pretty much awful. And utterly ridiculous.  I went on Wikipedia to find out what the twist is (I have no intention of seeing the film - it looked rotten) but was distracted by the fact that Michael appears to be starring in the film, going from the poster on its wiki page hat's less baffling than the twist. ... More

Posted by Deviation at 00:03, 03 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: 2 stars yes...way?

I loved the film and the twist. ... More

Posted by MuckyMuckMan at 23:46, 02 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: 2 stars yes...way?

L: Deviation The twist is pretty much awful. And utterly ridiculous.  sp; I went on Wikipedia to find out what the twist is (I have no intention of seeing the film - it looked rotten) but was distracted by the fact that George Michael appears to be starring in the film, going from the poster on its wiki page. ... More

Posted by matty_b at 20:25, 02 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: 2 stars yes...way?

The twist is pretty much awful. And utterly ridiculous.  ... More

Posted by Deviation at 19:58, 02 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: 2 stars yes...way?

Here I find myself siding with Empire yet again...what is going on?   I find it hard to believe people would give this film a good rating. I mean, some of the action scenes are ok and Gary Oldman is good fun as yet another hammy bad guy but the whole thing just builds up to nothing dramatically. The film just ends up feeling like religious propaganda even if that maybe wasn't the intention. Even the "twist" in Zardoz (starring Sean Connery in tiny red pants) was more powerful! ... More

Posted by Edward Nygma at 19:30, 02 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: 2 stars no way!

L: lukeyboy Two stars for this movie is just plain silly. think it pretty much is right. ... More

Posted by Deviation at 18:38, 02 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: 2 stars no way!

Maybe Denzel was blind, but was able to see only to become again in the end? I know I'm reaching, but I wanted to throw it out there. ... More

Posted by Johnny_A at 18:26, 02 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: 2 stars no way!

Two stars for this movie is just plain silly. I saw this the other night and it's a very, very good film.   BTW, THERE BE POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD!!   There's a lot of things I liked about this movie but i'll start with the colouring. It is a bleak setting no doubt, but the cinematographer has made it look actually quite picturesque with the help of some very good lighting, brilliant camera work and a great landscape to work on (i would think it's Arizona or... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lukeyboy at 16:43, 02 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Ive Changed My Mind

4 outta 5 stars. Denzel, Gary, even Mila for purely eye candy's sake (her mom too lol), were all good to watch. Never got bored at all. The action was sweet and Denzel taking on a mob of thugs (repeatedly) was very cool. The first one underneath the bridge in the shade was awesome to watch, though not much was seen. The sound fx was nice too. It was sorta reminiscent of Chan Wook Park. Did I mention Mila Kunis? Yeah, she's hot. But the best thing about the movie, apart from the great vis... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Johnny_A at 17:39, 31 July 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Biggest plot-hole in history of man. Yes, really.

L: UTB I really enjoyed this. I can understand why some found it dull (which I didn't) and others found it preachy (which I did on occasion). **Spoiler** There are a few minor things (Mila Kunis is fucking awful in gthe reveal at the end is so out of the blue that it really is implausible (there is a flashback sequence where you can clearly see Denzel ngs & people). I think it would have been much better if he had not been blind but had still taught himself to read braille - thi... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by kenada_woo at 20:37, 27 July 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Biggest plot-hole in history of man. Yes, really.

I really enjoyed this. I can understand why some found it dull (which I didn't) and others found it preachy (which I did on occasion). **Spoiler** There are a few minor things (Mila Kunis is fucking awful in gthe reveal at the end is so out of the blue that it really is implausible (there is a flashback sequence where you can clearly see Denzel ngs & people). I think it would have been much better if he had not been blind but had still taught himself to read braille - this would have... More

Posted by UTB at 13:34, 27 July 2010 | Report This Post


RE: 2 stars, very harsh!

** spoliers ** I've just finished watching this for the 2nd time and tbh I thought it was pretty good, but I do have a question about the twist - was he actually blind? Having watched it a second time, there isn't anything during the film that suggests he is blind.... yeah I know, he could smell the robbers 30 feet away and he can read braillet, but when he's putting objects down, picking objects up, talking to people, shooting and hitting the targets, doesn't use a stick to walk with, it ... More

Posted by fuzbucket mutant at 23:51, 10 July 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Good But Left Me A Little Cold.

L: BigKovacs I've got a couple of questions regarding some plot points, SPOLERS ahead for what it's worth. Firstly Eli is blind isn't he? Now I watched the film twice and the second time round there are times when he does 'act' blind, not looking in peoples eyes when they speak, super hearing etc but there are times where he blatantly has to use sight for what he's doing. It's not a major gripe, it's just a bit inconsistent. Secondly how does he know about Alcatraz? Okay he's ha... More

Posted by morg1138 at 20:23, 19 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Good But Left Me A Little Cold.

I've got a couple of questions regarding some plot points, SPOLERS ahead for what it's worth. Firstly Eli is blind isn't he? Now I watched the film twice and the second time round there are times when he does 'act' blind, not looking in peoples eyes when they speak, super hearing etc but there are times where he blatantly has to use sight for what he's doing. It's not a major gripe, it's just a bit inconsistent. Secondly how does he know about Alcatraz? Okay he's had a 'voice' telling... More

Posted by BigKovacs at 12:39, 14 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Ive Changed My Mind

L: SpiderBat L: Gazdance Had no intention of seeing this when there are other films out at the moment that I'd rather, however it was recommended by a colleague... I was so bored during this.  I'm just a bit sick of post apocalyptic end-of-humanity films with bleached cinematography desolate landscapes.  It seems like we've had so many and few of them are any good.  For the record, I enjoyed The Road but I don't really get the cross referencing to that film.&... More

Posted by genejoke at 18:00, 05 February 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Book Of Eli

Wow, all these reviews are positive, I can't wait to see this one on Saturday!! ... More

Posted by emertom at 01:40, 04 February 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Ive Changed My Mind

L: Gazdance Had no intention of seeing this when there are other films out at the moment that I'd rather, however it was recommended by a colleague... I was so bored during this.  I'm just a bit sick of post apocalyptic end-of-humanity films with bleached cinematography desolate landscapes.  It seems like we've had so many and few of them are any good.  For the record, I enjoyed The Road but I don't really get the cross referencing to that film.  Seems The Roa... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by SpiderBat at 00:27, 03 February 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Ive Changed My Mind

Had no intention of seeing this when there are other films out at the moment that I'd rather, however it was recommended by a colleague...   I was so bored during this.  I'm just a bit sick of post apocalyptic end-of-humanity films with bleached cinematography desolate landscapes.  It seems like we've had so many and few of them are any good.  For the record, I enjoyed The Road but I don't really get the cross referencing to that film.  Seems The Road's only mi... More

Posted by Gazdance at 18:27, 02 February 2010 | Report This Post


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