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The Book of Eli(2010)
A lone hero must fight his way across the wasteland of a post-apocalyptic America to protect a sacred book that holds the key to saving the future of humanity.
For more about The Book of Eli and the The Book of Eli Blu-ray release, see the The Book of Eli Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on June 1, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, Ray Stevenson, Jennifer Beals, Evan Jones
Directors: Albert Hughes, Allen Hughes
» See full cast & crew
The Book of Eli Blu-ray Review
Hope for the future: now protected by a sawed-off shotgun and an HK45!
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, June 1, 2010
Stay on the path.
Stories of the end of the world aren't exactly a new concept. Sure, recent history is ripe with films that cover pretty much all the bases, from Mayan prophesies to alien attack, from nuclear holocaust to mystery event, from the year 2000 to global warming, from viruses to zombie infestation, but man's obsession with the final hours dates back hundreds, if not thousands, of years, with an obvious jumping-in point being the Book of Revelation, the last chapter in the Bible's New Testament and said to contain the signs and occurrences that would mark the final days of planet Earth. But that doesn't mean a little nuclear apocalypse, a major asteroid impact, or something funky getting into everyone's glass of water couldn't happen in the meantime. It's not truly the end times until there's absolutely nobody left to fulfill some destiny, complete some task, save some life, or renew faith in a greater good. The Book of Eli is another in a growing line of darkly apocalyptic films, though it radically differs in course from the more run-of-the-mill aliens and rising waters and concerns itself with a surprisingly deep, honest, and spiritual overtone that examines the importance of protecting that which is still good in a world filled with nothing but evil so that future generations may read, learn, embrace, and spread the good news rather than the bad.
A highly-trained and heavily-scarred man (Denzel Washington, Training Day) wanders across the barren landscape of a dead America. His is a world of incessant violence, hate, and death, a world where rape, murder, theft, confusion, anger, and despair reign, where hope, trust, faith, and God seem distant memories, memories of a world long deceased and utterly failed. His mission is to deliver a message of peace and understanding to a world in need, though where he's headed and to whom he's to give his precious gift remains a mystery even to him. He follows his instincts and trusts that he'll be led to whomever he needs to see and to wherever he needs to go. On his journey, he stumbles upon a town ruled by a corrupt and hateful overseer named Carnegie (Gary Oldman, Air Force One) who is in search of a book that he believes will grant him ultimate power and authority not only over those within his current sphere of influence but well beyond the limits of his borders. When the wanderer refuses to help Carnegie, he finds himself on the run from a band of ruthless thugs and accompanied by a young woman named Solara (Mila Kunis, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) who hopes to find in both the lone wanderer and whatever it is he's protecting a peace and comfort she's never before known.
Examined from a very base perspective, there's not much that separates The Book of Eli from any run-of-the-mill run-and-gun "lone wanderer" type Post-Apocalyptic films. Its hero is quiet but not shy about doing some serious damage if his space or life is threatened; he's cool but smart, capable but not flashy, a man with a purpose and a mysterious background, the type people fear and respect but still manage to underestimate. The Book of Eli is a picture much like The Postman in that it combines Western motifs with a post-apocalyptic environment, though as to the latter, Eli plays as far more visually bleak and thematically purposeful. Both pictures additionally share a similar base element in that they build their stories around the delivery of hope to a needy populace, The Postman through the writings of man and The Book of Eli something a bit more substantial. Similarly, The Book of Eli shares with The Road -- another recent film about survival in an America-turned-wasteland -- a painfully bleak façade but an underlying glimmer of hope through the darkness that visually defines the landscape and thematically underscores the physical decay, emotional despair, and spiritual distress of a world turned upside down. The Book of Eli is the most brutally violent of the three, but it's also the most clear in terms of its message; unlike The Road, Eli deals more in the obvious physical realm by picture's end than it does the more emotionally challenging metaphorical nature of John Hillcoat's film. Though The Book of Eli and The Road approach the material from different perspectives, they both share an underlying theme of the long journey required to rekindle a sense of hope in a world that's forgotten what hope is.
Astute viewers will quickly realize that The Book of Eli's major secret isn't particularly well-hidden, but in a way, that only helps it to achieve a greater impact for the film's messages and imagery that define its second half. The picture's first half is spent developing its lead characters -- even if they're not all that original from a base perspective -- and establishing a tone that intermixes high-energy action with an underlying feel of something to come that's greater than the sum of its establishing elements. Indeed, The Book of Eli turns from routine Action/Western picture to something of a uniquely metaphorical experience within the combined scope of its style, violence, and themes as it maneuvers through the slow reveals of its second half. A greater analysis of the film would require extensive spoilers and discussions of the picture's nuances throughout its final hour, but suffice it to say, there's plenty of imagery and metaphor here that won't be lost on audiences with even a cursory knowledge of religious history, not to mention a personal belief system in some greater power. The Book of Eli examines the importance of following one's instincts and a personal guidance that comes from within; it's about taking chances, making sacrifices, listening to that little voice inside and doing something not because it's practical or profitable, but because some things just have to be done for the greater good and no matter the time, energy, or personal loss required to get the job done.
Nicely supporting the picture's themes of good and evil, sacrifice for the greater good, and metaphors that contrast light and dark is a visual style that consistently sees bright imagery set against overwhelming darkness for what is a wonderfully unique yet telling and purposeful visual scheme. Directors Albert and Allen Hughes (From Hell) use shadow to wonderful effect, even within the picture's already desaturated gray-ish tone that's not as inhospitable as that seen in The Road but is still plenty bleak to convey the sense of death and decay around much of the country. The bright yet desaturated visuals that are often offset by overwhelming darkness convey a sense of right trying to come through a world that's been wronged time and again, a world ultimately succumbing to a near-death experience that can only be saved through righteousness and salvation. It's a fascinating visual juxtaposition, one that only reinforces the picture's already obvious but no less powerful and pertinent themes. Denzel Washington gives a solid performance, but not one that's among his best; he captures the spirit and sense of the greater driving force behind his critical mission splendidly, but his performance -- and that of Gary Oldman as yet another whacked-out villain -- are overshadowed by the power of the film's messages on faith, redemption, and purpose for the greater good.
The Book of Eli Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Book of Eli wanders onto Blu-ray with a superb 1080p, 2.39:1-framed transfer that's been sourced from the film's original digital elements. Like The Road, The Book of Eli takes on a dingy, gray, cold, and desolate visual scheme. It's certainly not nearly as pronounced here, though; this is a far more balanced image that features plenty of light even through the picture's darker recesses that cover much of the film. This allows for greater detailing and texturing to stand out on-screen while the film retains that inhospitable visual scheme, and the Blu-ray delivers the picture's every nuance splendidly. Detail is so fine that viewers could count the number of individual speckles of dust that are seen floating about a bright light source offset against a dark background in one early scene. Even such diminutive objects look sharp and natural, and float in such a way so as to heighten the transfer's strong sense of depth that's readily evident in most every scene. The transfer also manages to capture even the finest of details in pebbles and grains of dirt and sand that make up the post-apocalyptic landscape, while also showcasing the finest lines and pores on faces, caked-on dirt and grime that covers an older iPod, and the wear-and-tear seen on war-torn environments and well-used weapons. The picture's color scheme is reserved at best, the film taking on a predominantly gray tone accentuated by deep and penetrating blacks that are perfectly balanced against the brighter in-frame elements. Blacks are strong and inky and rarely drown out finer detail and never appear unnaturally bright. The film demands to be seen on larger screens to better appreciate the scope of the landscape and the wonderful production design, and the Blu-ray allows for a sharp, crisp image at any reasonable high definition size. Flesh tones are accurate insofar as they remain true to the picture's bleak visual tone, and only a slight bit of banding in a few scenes interrupts what is otherwise a wonderful Blu-ray transfer from Warner Brothers.
The Book of Eli Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Book of Eli explodes onto Blu-ray with a powerhouse DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. This is one smooth track; it's big, crisp, and wonderfully detailed, with every speaker in the arsenal coming out to play and engaging in Action movie mayhem in several scenes that will leave audiences breathless with the realism of everything from gunshots to crashing vehicles. Said gunshots ring out with a precision and realism rarely found in movies; there's a sense of honesty to the gunfire where it's not over-exaggerated but rather frighteningly natural. Bullets zip through the listening area during several shootouts and traverse through the speakers with alarming ease; this one might have listeners ducking for cover. Indeed, imaging is superb as various sounds -- whether gunfire, vehicles moving from one side of the screen to the other, or any number of environmental effects -- make their way about the soundstage with an ease and efficiency that's been captured to this level of perfection in but a few other soundtracks. Ambience both light and moderately heavy is supremely impressive as well; whether gusting winds or creaks and pops inside worn and unstable structures, listeners will feel like a part of the environment in most every scene. The DTS track also delivers a potent low end that's incredibly deep and impeccably precise and tight. Rounded out by pitch-perfect dialogue reproduction, The Book of Eli sounds even better than it looks and delivers a reference-quality listen.
The Book of Eli Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Warner's Blu-ray release of The Book of Eli delivers a healthy collection of extras, headlined by WB Maximum Movie Mode, an interactive picture-in-picture feature that offers cast and crew interview clips that cover a wide array of information, including the film's origins, visual style, special effects, the use of matte paintings, set design, shooting locales, casting, story and themes, and more. Often appearing in the picture-in-picture window in conjunction with the interviews are storyboard-to-screen comparisons, 3-D preview graphics, concept art, and much more. Viewers may also press "enter" when prompted to view additional full-screen behind-the-scenes featurettes as they relate to specific moments in the film, presented in 1.78:1 1080p images. Note that these shorts are also available to view immediately under the "Focus Points" tab on the main menu screen. Although the secondary video does not run consistently over this film, this is a strong supplement that fans will enjoy. Next is A Lost Tale: Billy (1080p, 5:02), a short film in graphic novel style that tells a story of a young Carnegie. Behind the Story features two extras, Starting Over (1080p, 13:03) and Eli's Journey (1080p, 17:54). The former features several individuals speaking on the process of living in and ultimately rebuilding the world after an apocalypse, while the latter looks at the film's visual schemes and its characters, the quality of the actors, the film's themes of faith, the design of crucial props, and more. 'The Book of Eli' Soundtrack (1080p, 4:59) features Co-Director Allen Hughes and Composer Atticus Ross speaking about the film's score. Also included is Warner Bros. BD-Live functionality and a collection of deleted and alternate scenes (1080p, 1:53). Disc two of this set contains DVD and digital copies of The Book of Eli. The digital copy, sampled on a second-generation iPod Touch, features an active but unconvincing soundtrack that's clear and strong with a decent sense of space but plays as incredibly unbalanced by exaggerating most every effect. Meanwhile, the picture quality appears stable with good detailing and only moderate blocking.
The Book of Eli Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
A picture that nicely balances action and adventure with a deeper purpose, The Book of Eli sets itself apart from others of its kind as a post-apocalyptic film with an obvious but welcome message on the power of faith, belief, and destiny, themes that are often more subdued in other films but obviously realized -- and to excellent effect -- here. The picture is packed with metaphors and imagery that might not sit well with all viewers but should satisfy those of a faith-based background. Warner Brothers' Blu-ray release of The Book of Eli boasts a wonderful technical presentation and a fair assortment of extra content. Highly recommended.
The Book of Eli: Other Editions
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The Book of Eli Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray, June 15-21 - June 15, 2010
After winning a Tony this past weekend, one has to wonder if Denzel Washington will consider abandoning Hollywood for the glamour of Broadway. The Oscar-award winning actor has had a storied career, but his latest effort The Book of Eli - which is out on Blu-ray ...
• Book of Eli Blu-ray Announced - March 19, 2010
Warner Home Video has announced The Book of Eli for release on a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo Pack on June 15. This post-apocalyptic movie starring Denzel Washington opened theatrically in January 15 and earned a total of about $94 million at the box office. ...
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