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Author Topic: Book of Eli Reviews  (Read 13155 times)
Nomad
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« on: January 10, 2010, 06:38:50 PM »

Here's the first one, from THR:

Film Reviews
The Book of Eli -- Film Review
By Kirk Honeycutt, January 10, 2010 07:00 ET
 
Bottom Line: A well-made post-apocalyptic action drama with simple themes and archetypal characters that strains a little too much at Seriousness.
As post-apocalyptic movie fiction goes, "The Book of Eli" is not a crowd-pleaser like the "Mad Max" series nor silly like any of the "Planet of the Apes" films. This film, the first from the Hughes Brothers in nearly nine years, instead is an intense, surprisingly serious study of a man making his way through a wilderness of catastrophic destruction and human cruelty like a latter-day prophet. An overlay of spiritual themes doesn't always work, but "Eli" is that rare Hollywood film that posits a Christian man as its hero.

The story is couched in neo-Western terms -- a solitary gunman comes to a town and confronts the corrupt sheriff and his maniacal deputies -- so the movie fits comfortably within the confines of mainstream studio moviemaking. And Denzel Washington is one of the few Hollywood stars who can pull off a larger-than-life character who can dispatch a gang of cutthroats with a nasty blade yet maintain an air of saintliness.

Boxoffice should be above average for this Warner Bros. release. Don't be surprised if the film is embraced by Christian filmgoers as the Holy Bible is seen as the point from which a new civilization can take shape.

Allen and Albert Hughes situate their story in an environment informed by graphic-novel imagery. Landscapes are stark, and characters strike poses. Working with cinematographer Don Burgess, they frequently drain the color from desolate stretches of desert (with New Mexico doing the honors). Roads are lined with ruined remnants of a prior civilization, the one before a "Flash" -- which occurred during the last war -- tore a hole in the sky and brought fatal, scorching light onto the Earth.

As in "Mad Max," anarchy rules, with mayhem, murder and rape seen as routine events. Washington's Eli claims to have walked west for 30 years, but everything looks like the bomb dropped only last month. No one has even bothered to bury bodies or develop any infrastructure.

After a "credential scene," in which Eli demonstrates his lethal abilities when challenged, he wanders into a desert town where a tin-pot dictator named Carnegie (Gary Oldman with his patented theatrical sleaze) holds sway. There is no discernible reason why he should rule a gang unless it's because he's the exception to the rule of near-universal illiteracy. (Carnegie is perusing a biography of Mussolini, please note.)

When Carnegie learns that Eli possesses a Bible, he means to win him over to his cause or kill him -- whatever it takes to gain control of that book. Both men see the Bible as the key to social regeneration. A voice has commanded Eli to take the Bible west, where it will be the foundation of a new Earth. Carnegie sees the book as a means of controlling people and their loyalties, as many false prophets have before him.

Caught in the showdown between two determined men are Carnegie's adopted daughter, Solara (Mila Kunis), and mistress Claudia (Jennifer Beals) as well as his henchman, Redridge (Ray Stevenson), who fancies Solara for himself. Things play out in a straight-forward fashion as screenwriter Gary Whitta gives little depth or complications to his characters or story. The Hughes Brothers' measured, well-paced direction complements the comic-book simplicity of this narrative.

A viewer will probably be grabbed less by the showdowns than by the mannered cinematography, Gae Buckley's eye-catching production design of a ruined Southwest and an energetic, pulsating score from Atticus Ross (assisted by Claudia Sarne and Leopold Ross). What is it about Earth's ruin that so inspires artists?


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Nomad
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« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2010, 09:57:19 PM »

Daily Variety weighs in:

For the third time in four months, after "2012" and "The Road," the end of the world as we now know it is up on the bigscreen, in "The Book of Eli." An odyssey of a mysterious wanderer who has spent 30 years making his way across desolate post-apocalyptic landscapes in possession of the world's only remaining Bible, the Hughes Brothers' first feature in nine years reps a weirdly intriguing mix of "Mad Max," "The Postman," "Fahrenheit 451," Leone's "Man With No Name" trilogy and Graham Greene's novel "The Power and the Glory," all shot through with an unwavering religious impulse. In all likelihood, this will not be one of star (and producer) Denzel Washington's bigger grossers, although if Warner Bros. cared to court the normally stay-at-home Christian audience, it would hit a mother lode of positive response.
By now, the trappings of a CGI-enhanced ravaged future have become so familiar that perhaps they need to be given a rest; images of cities reduced to skyscraper skeletons, familiar landmarks laid low, broken highways littered with decaying cars and scattered survivors rummaging and fighting are no longer fresh, putting the burden on filmmakers to come up with some new angles on prospective Earthly ruin.

"The Book of Eli," with its enterprising journeyman and marauding cannibals, at least initially looks like a futuristic samurai Western featuring a hero with quasi-supernatural (or, as he would put it, God-given) fighting abilities. After Eli (Washington) dispatches a bunch of snaggle-toothed cretins with a blinding display of blade work in the first action scene, the lone survivor asks where he's going. "West" is his one-word reply, which lands him in a fetid shell of a town that makes Deadwood look like Paris and is presided over by Carnegie (Gary Oldman), a man roughly Eli's age who's first seen poring over a bio-graphy of Mussolini.

One of the clever conceits of the script by first-timer Gary Whitta is that there are only a handful of people still alive who remember how things were "before"; none of the younger generation knows how to read, and the Bible, specifically, was singled out for destruction after the global cataclysm, a vaguely described event that created "a hole in the sky" and was blamed by some on religion.

In Carnegie lie the seeds of a great villain. Far smarter than the goons he bosses around, he's an intellectual dictator frustrated by the miserable desert fiefdom he rules by virtue of his knowledge of a water source. For years, he's been searching for a Bible himself, knowing that, if armed with exclusive possession of the Word, he could attain unquestioned control, although over what remains a puzzlement.

Unfortunately, Whitta and the Hughes Brothers (whose last film was, ironically or not, "From Hell") veer away from Carnegie's brainy side to emphasize standard-issue cruelty and sadism, missing an excellent opportunity to weigh humanity's potential for misuse of scripture against the goodness of its message. After Eli refuses Carnegie's entreaties to give him the book, and takes down a squad of his nastiest gorillas in the bargain, the two become deadly enemies, but not in the complex and complicit way they could have been.

So the film's core becomes a fairly standard chase across the wasteland, as Carnegie's raggedy troops, in patched-together vehicles, pursue Eli and the villain's errant stepdaughter, Solara (Mila Kunis), who's evidently the world's last remaining hottie; with her and the Bible, Eli would seem to have cornered the market in worthwhile rarities. Along the way, the two briefly take refuge in an isolated house occupied by an old couple (Michael Gambon and Frances de la Tour) who serve proper tea in china and play music on a Victrola. The mild humor of this interlude suggests that some mordant comic touches would have been welcome throughout the pic, which has a somber tone that suffers a bit from lack of modulation and nuance.

Shooting in New Mexico with the Red digital camera system, Allen and Albert Hughes favor slow, lateral tracking shots and continually fill the big desert skies with clouds moving in the opposite direction as their hero. Color has been drained away to give the picture a parched sepia look, and all hands on the craft and technical side have more than held up their end. The strange and varied electronic score by Atticus Ross, Claudia Sarne and Leopold Ross is a welcome departure from the musical norm.

Iconically effective as a single-minded messenger with a mission, Washington's Eli is ultimately too confined by the man-of-few-words movie norms he's saddled with. The feeling persists that the character, and the picture, could have been much more interesting had there been just one scene in which Eli, upon arriving at Carnegie's compound, delights at finally finding a man he can talk with on equal terms. Carnegie, for his part, would share this pleasure during an evening of stimulating conversation, all the while contemplating how best to snatch the King James from his new best friend. A little humanity and trust subsequently betrayed could have gone a long way.

The prevailing approach forces Oldman to hit mostly obvious notes, while Kunis looks awfully fashionable in her artfully assembled raggy outfits. As Carnegie's blind wife, Jennifer Beals mostly has to suffer at the hands of her abusive spouse.

Without giving it away, it's safe to say that "The Book of Eli" ends less bleakly than "The Road," with a cheeky bit of geographic irony, in fact. An uncredited Malcolm McDowell plays a central role in the final minutes.


http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117941866.html?categoryid=31&cs=1

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britmys
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Gender: Female
Posts: 885



« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2010, 11:45:37 AM »

I like what this reviewer has to say about Ray:

 It doesn't hurt the supporting cast consisted of the amazing Gary Oldman, the beautiful Mila Kunis, and the downright scary Ray Stevenson. Oldman plays his character, Carnegie, to near perfection. You can never quite tell if his true intentions are noble or self-serving. I can only hope that this film will redeem Ray Stevenson of the critical failure that was Punisher War Zone (but not this critic I loved that movie).

See the entire review at http://punchdrunkcritics.blogspot.com/2010/01/book-of-eli-johns-take.html


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"There are girls from Narbo to Thebes who cry my name at night"   Titus Pullo

Ooh, and I'm one of them :crush:
Nomad
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« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2010, 02:23:20 PM »

Thanks, Brit!  Punisher: War Zone is one of those films people either love or hate.  I've seen it on several "Best Films of the Year/Decade" and "Worst Films of the Year/Decade."    But even among those who hated it, almost universally they thought that Ray was spot on in his portrayal of Frank Castle.  And he was! 

:nomad:

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Nomad
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« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2010, 02:38:27 PM »

No mention of Ray, but Richard Roper gives Eli an A!

http://www.richardroeper.com/

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wingit4me
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« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2010, 04:27:17 PM »

Rex Reed and Roger Ebert and Michael Phillips all give it good reviews. Time to google and find more.. back soon...
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:wingit:
britmys
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« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2010, 05:52:15 PM »

Another reviewer with a nice nod to Ray's character:

Gary Oldman is absolutely perfect as the vile villain Carnegie and matches Washington’s Eli scene-for-scene. Characters like Ray Stevenson’s Redridge and Mila Kunis’ Solara may not be given a whole lot of screen time but they add to a solid supporting cast nonetheless.

Found online at http://www.empiremovies.com/2010/01/15/the-book-of-eli-review/.


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"There are girls from Narbo to Thebes who cry my name at night"   Titus Pullo

Ooh, and I'm one of them :crush:
britmys
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Gender: Female
Posts: 885



« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2010, 05:59:22 PM »

And, my, but I like this reviewer's nice words: 

Carnegie's muscle is Redridge, played by Ray Stevenson (from Punisher: War Zone and "Rome"), who brings a touch of unexpected nobility to his role.

Found at http://gapersblock.com/ac/2010/01/15/the-book-of-eli-the-lovely-bones-the-white-ribbon-a-town-called-panic-and-the-spy-next-door/.

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"There are girls from Narbo to Thebes who cry my name at night"   Titus Pullo

Ooh, and I'm one of them :crush:
wingit4me
Rayligious Fanatic
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Posts: 1562



« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2010, 11:24:40 PM »

Been googling again through lots of reviews and Britmys ordered me to post the ones that single out Ray for mention so here goes (didn't find a single one that has anything bad to say about him):

 http://www.aintitcool.com/node/43649
 But Ray Stevenson as his right hand man is fantastic, giving a deep, occasionally moving performance as Oldman’s henchman-in-chief.

http://www.aintitcool.com/node/43647
Carnegie's muscle is Redridge, played by Ray Stevenson (from PUNISHER: WAR ZONE and "Rome"), who brings a touch of unexpected nobility to his role.


http://www.televisionwithoutpity.com/mwop/moviefile/2010/01/the-book-of-eli-a-road-warrior.php
Ray Stevenson is also a treat, playing Carnegie's intelligent but frustrated enforcer,


http://www.buzzine.com/2010/01/elis-not-so-preachy-book/

Two pleasant surprises came in the form of Ray Stevenson (who played the skeptically loyal sidekick to the bad guy)

http://www.citytv.com/toronto/citynews/entertainment/movies/article/68087--review-the-book-of-eli

The one actor who really stood out was Ray Stevenson who plays Carnegie's right-hand man Redridge. He had a sincerity about him and does tough and funny well.

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:wingit:
Nomad
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« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2010, 01:47:27 AM »

Bloody good orders, Wing? Thanks!  I don't really want to read the reviews that don't mention Ray.   Shocking?

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britmys
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Gender: Female
Posts: 885



« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2010, 08:58:10 AM »

Been googling again through lots of reviews and Britmys ordered me to post the ones that single out Ray for mention so here goes (didn't find a single one that has anything bad to say about him):

 http://www.aintitcool.com/node/43649
 But Ray Stevenson as his right hand man is fantastic, giving a deep, occasionally moving performance as Oldman’s henchman-in-chief.

http://www.aintitcool.com/node/43647
Carnegie's muscle is Redridge, played by Ray Stevenson (from PUNISHER: WAR ZONE and "Rome"), who brings a touch of unexpected nobility to his role.


http://www.televisionwithoutpity.com/mwop/moviefile/2010/01/the-book-of-eli-a-road-warrior.php
Ray Stevenson is also a treat, playing Carnegie's intelligent but frustrated enforcer,


http://www.buzzine.com/2010/01/elis-not-so-preachy-book/

Two pleasant surprises came in the form of Ray Stevenson (who played the skeptically loyal sidekick to the bad guy)

http://www.citytv.com/toronto/citynews/entertainment/movies/article/68087--review-the-book-of-eli

The one actor who really stood out was Ray Stevenson who plays Carnegie's right-hand man Redridge. He had a sincerity about him and does tough and funny well.




Now THAT"S what I'm taking about!  We all know that Ray "has a sincerity about him and does tough and funny well,"  so let's him get him some quality roles, Mr. or Ms. Agent.  ...something where he gets to show his multi-layered, complex character interpretations.  Not to mention tough AND sympathetic - remember Dagonet in King Arthur?  Any casting directors out there?  Hello, hello?

And, thanks, wing, for googling again  :wave:  :clap:.

:brit:
« Last Edit: January 16, 2010, 09:26:38 AM by britmys » Logged

"There are girls from Narbo to Thebes who cry my name at night"   Titus Pullo

Ooh, and I'm one of them :crush:
Camamar
Rayligious Fanatic
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Gender: Female
Posts: 1780



« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2010, 12:27:24 PM »

Yes! Yes! Yes! I also should not really take the time to read the reviews that don't mention Ray. (Although I have found Gary Oldman rather tasty, on occasion.)

Thank you all SO much!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SO happy to see Ray being appreciated!!! :clap:  :rock:  :worshippy:  :crush:

(Yay! the text is not jumping around at the moment. Hope that continues.)

:bead:
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A day without Ray is like a day without sunshine.....Worse, actually. A day without sunshine would save me having to put on sunscreen.
Camamar
Rayligious Fanatic
******
Gender: Female
Posts: 1780



« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2010, 12:37:40 PM »

Been googling again through lots of reviews and Britmys ordered me to post the ones that single out Ray for mention so here goes (didn't find a single one that has anything bad to say about him):

 http://www.aintitcool.com/node/43649
 But Ray Stevenson as his right hand man is fantastic, giving a deep, occasionally moving performance as Oldman’s henchman-in-chief.

http://www.aintitcool.com/node/43647
Carnegie's muscle is Redridge, played by Ray Stevenson (from PUNISHER: WAR ZONE and "Rome"), who brings a touch of unexpected nobility to his role.


http://www.televisionwithoutpity.com/mwop/moviefile/2010/01/the-book-of-eli-a-road-warrior.php
Ray Stevenson is also a treat, playing Carnegie's intelligent but frustrated enforcer,


http://www.buzzine.com/2010/01/elis-not-so-preachy-book/

Two pleasant surprises came in the form of Ray Stevenson (who played the skeptically loyal sidekick to the bad guy)

http://www.citytv.com/toronto/citynews/entertainment/movies/article/68087--review-the-book-of-eli

The one actor who really stood out was Ray Stevenson who plays Carnegie's right-hand man Redridge. He had a sincerity about him and does tough and funny well.



Thanks so much, Wing, forf your work!!! *wild applause*

:bead:
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A day without Ray is like a day without sunshine.....Worse, actually. A day without sunshine would save me having to put on sunscreen.
Nomad
Guest
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2010, 04:41:36 PM »

Video reviews from fans who just saw the film, including a bit from Bro Eden, a very sweet and spiritual man... :crush:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLvF7aT9X64" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLvF7aT9X64</a>

:nomad:
« Last Edit: January 16, 2010, 07:27:47 PM by Nomad » Logged
Nomad
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« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2010, 05:24:41 PM »

...There’s also an array of fantastic supporting performances worth mentioning from the always wonderful Tom Waits, the intimidating Ray Stevenson and the classy Michael Gambon. They’re unsurprisingly excellent even to the point where you selfishly wish for more of them. Especially with Stevenson who’s a bit underused.

http://thefilmstage.com/2010/01/16/review-the-book-of-eli/

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