Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Book of Eli DVD



DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Denzel’s Post-Apocalyptic Adventure Arrives on DVD


                It is 2043, in the wake of a war which has left America a vast, violent wasteland devoid of infrastructure. Civilization has been replaced by a desperate, lawless society where life is cheap, and a man might lose his life over a glass of water or a piece of food.

In the case of Eli (Denzel Washington), the only item for which he is willing to die is the thick, leather-bound book he keeps carefully-wrapped in cloth and tucked away inside his weather-beaten satchel. Except for the telltale cross on the cover, and his occasionally spouting scriptural-sounding aphorisms like “Do for others more than you do for yourself,” he does an excellent job of hiding its contents.

As it turns out, this is the only Bible left in existence, and Eli is walking westward to deliver the precious package to a publisher in San Francisco with a still-functioning printing press. And because this peaceful warrior knows the sacred text represent the last hope for Christianity, he is willing to fight anyone who might dare try to prevent him from reaching his destination. So, he negotiates his way some 3,000 miles on foot through a gauntlet of marauding gangs and bloodthirsty miscreants, frequently putting aside his inclination to turn the other cheek in order to kick butt.

Thus, the Book of Eli is a relentlessly-gruesome, post-apocalyptic saga imbued with heavy religious overtones designed to appeal to the Born Again demographic, at least those who could care less about the 6th Commandment, “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” Eli proves to be one righteous dude, especially after the plot thickens when Satan incarnate (Gary Oldman) catches wind of what’s in the hero’s knapsack.

Will the Devil be able to wrest the Bible away before Eli reaches what’s left of the Bay Area? That’s the critical question at the heart of this faith-based morality play. But despite Denzel Washington’s turning in a trademark, charismatic performance underscored by appropriately monochromatic cinematography, the film is still surprisingly unengaging. Even the inclusion of a mother-daughter team of fetching damsels-in-distress played by Jennifer Beals and Mila Kunis didn’t help. Maybe it’s the fact that the resolution, which I won’t dare spoil, is such a multidenominational cop-out.

                Jesus as the answer, along with a bunch of other prophets.


Fair (1 star)

Rated R for profanity and graphic violence.

Running time: 118 Minutes

Distributor: Warner Home Video

Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Combo Pack Extras: Deleted scenes, an animated short, a behind the scenes documentary, plus three featurettes entitled, “Starting Over,” “Eli’s Journey” and “The Book of Eli Soundtrack.”

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