Book of Eli – The Best Movie I Ever Hated

01.20.2010

Sooooo… I just saw Book of Eli. I’m kind of pissed off now.

People tell me that I should’ve known what to expect here. “Duh! It was obvious from the commercials what it was about,” they say.

Forgive me for overthinking things. From the high-contrast, not-quite-monochrome quality of the cinematography, it seemed clear to be that this was a high-budget work of art. Well, great art is generally about nuance. I let myself see nuance where there was none, and so I saw this movie expecting a twist. I expected a little more mystery about what was so important about this MacGuffin… this Book. Oh, those clever screen writers… what’s the book going to be? Das Kapital? How to Win Friends and Influence People? Helpful Hints by Heloise? Rebuilding Society in the Post-Apocalypse for Dummies? To Serve Man?

The twist never came. It was exactly the movie that the trailer depicts. The book is the King James version of the Bible.

Everything visually about movie was amazing. The sets were perfect and the surreal and stylistic high-contrast filming was absolutely stunning. The acting was pretty damn good, and if you’re playing the Denzel Washington Drinking Game, you have to wait only three minutes or so to see his signature neck rub. The fight scenes were cool and looked like River Tam herself did the choreography. It was kind of gory at times, and even though they occasionally stooped to having the main character “be funny” about the violence, it didn’t come off as cheesy. This had all the makings of one of the coolest movies of all time.

Oh, and TOM Freakin’ WAITS was in it.  I LOVE Tom Waits! Did I say “one of the coolest movies of all time”? I meant “This had all the makings of THE perfect movie!”

*sigh*

But the twist I was expecting and hoping for never came. The movie had an ending that made the movie not just incomprehensible and silly, but far more offensive was that it was a vehicle for morals and lessons that, in less civilized times, caused people to feel justified in blowing up strangers in Tel Aviv coffee shops.

…more incomprehensible than than the sketchy science-fiction plot device of “a hole torn in the sky” which caused everyone to need awesome goggles and Ray Bans for sun protection but didn’t require SPF 300 sunblock. (Wait, hold on… let me go try something. Okay, I just had an epiphany about why the stylized cinematography was done how it was. I grabbed a couple pairs of sunglasses to test my theory and I think I got it right. It almost perfectly mimics the world viewed through dark sunglasses. It’s supposed to be like you’re following around the protagonist, as if you’re someone in his world. Great. Wonderful. Even that touch couldn’t save this movie from itself. Okay, back to this review.)

…sillier than the contrast of the gritty, Mad-Max-looking characters compared to the silky, shiny hair of women who haven’t seen Garnier Fructis in 30 years. (By the way, Mila Kundis looks GORGEOUS without make-up… even though I’m sure she was wearing make-up, she looked like she wasn’t.)

There was “a twist” and I suppose it was something I didn’t expect, but ultimately I was disappointed. A twist alone does not a good movie make.  It has to be… oh, I don’t know. It has to be good. This movie sucked. I hated, hated, hated, hated, hated this movie. If it was merely a waste of my time, I’d be fine, but I paid money to see this thing, and that makes me angry.

When the morals of the story we’re supposed to take home are “If you must be violent, be ultraviolent”, “the path of righteousness means only helping others when you have no other choice ” and “Jesus is magic, kids”, the directors have just flipped me a huge bird on a larger-than-life-screen. I don’t care who says “Duh! What did you expect?” I was pissed off.

Pissed… off…

I wondered if I was allowed to get a refund. I almost asked.

It was the best movie I ever hated.