Last night, my husband and I sat down to watch Fallout 3—oh, sorry, I meant to say The Book of Eli. I have a hard time telling these two apart. Both take place in a post-apocalyptic future where the landscape is barren, desiccated, and in varying shades of muted browns or grays. Torn overpasses hang over the desertscape like a child’s first loose tooth that is dangling by a lone root. Both (hopefully) fictitious futures are populated by cannibals and raiders—each equally eager to commit violent acts against any traveler that happens their way. And both have heroes that are supposedly trying to help mankind, but don’t mind slaying anyone they come across.
The Book of Eli stars Denzel Washington as Eli, a man on a mission– to deliver a book in order to save the world. After killing a cat (poor kitty!) and several highwaymen, he stumbles upon a town under control of the evil Carnegie, played by Gary Oldman. In Gary-Oldmanville (or Gary-Oldmantown? No, I think “ville” sums up the sophisticated serenity and charm of this quaint settlement), Eli just wants to charge up his iPod and fill his canteen with water. But nothing can be that simple. You see, Carnegie has been searching for a book—the book Eli is carrying, coincidentally. Ultimately Eli escapes from the town, with Carnegie and his pals (oh– can he have a posse? It is the west. I think posse is the correct term) close behind. However, during his two minutes in the town, Eli somehow formed a connection with Solara (Mila Kunis). Solara and her blind mother, played by Jennifer Beals (and yes, she is a maniac, maniac on the floor), are under the control of Carnegie. When Carnegie and his posse learn that Eli has both a book AND Solara, they are even more upset! They shake their fists in the air a few times, grumble, and continue on their chase.
More zany antics ensue when Eli and Solara inadvertently cross paths with the cannibal Michael Gambon. While having tea with the cannibal and his wife, the posse discovers their secret location (a house standing alone in the middle of nowhere), and they have a big old shootout (complete with bazookas—as I learned from Kickass, this is a desired weapon of choice for bad guys). To my surprise, Carnegie’s posse wins the gunfight, and Carnegie threatens to kill Solara unless Eli tells him where the book is (what?!). Gosh, what is he to do?
This film let me down a bit. I spent a decent chunk of my recent life playing Fallout 3 (I really like that game!), and I wanted The Book of Eli to be better than a video game. It wasn’t. In a way, it was almost too stylized. The funky camera moves were kind of cool at first, but after one or two of them, I thought they hampered the action. Also, the design of the film looked almost exactly like Fallout 3. Yes, I know, how many different types of post-apocalyptic landscapes can really exist; but you could almost hold up a still from each and have a hard time telling which was the movie and which was the video game.
Overall, I thought the concept was cool—though I may be biased because I like futuristic films. And I actually enjoyed how the film was shot in muted tones– even the costumes were colorless, lifeless, as if reflecting the sentiment of this future population. I am also a Gary Oldman fan. It took me a second to recognize him—although he wasn’t really wearing a lot of makeup, nor was he donning prosthetics– and that is what makes his acting brilliant. He always seems to take on the persona of the character, becoming a human chameleon (hmm, maybe a human chameleon would make a good horror movie monster).
Although this movie was decent, if given the choice between watching it or playing Fallout 3, I would definitely play the video game. They are similar in tone and theme, but I would favor Fallout 3 so I could control what happens and what I see onscreen (think of it as an updated version of those old “choose your own adventure” books I read as a kid….Yes, I skipped ahead to see how each adventure ended, but that’s now what the internet is for). At least the game would give me experience and allow me to level up my character.
Netflix Queue: 472