Posts Tagged ‘denzel washington

01
Mar
10

Movie Review: The Book of Eli

A Bible, an iPod, and the post-apocalyptic power of prayer…

Starring Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, and Jennifer Beals. Directed by the Hughes Brothers.

I was not expecting the amount of Christian allegory this movie had. Think “The Road” with a copy of King James being toted around.

It’s post-apocalyptic America and just like the movie “The Road,” we the audience have no clue as to what happened. Apparently, a big FLASH occurred and a good chunk of society became blind. Those not blind walk around wearing sunglasses all the time. Some electronics (e.g. an iPod) work but since there’s no running electricity or water there’s not much of a use for any of it.

Washington is Eli and Eli’s coming or rather going west to some unnamed destination. When we first meet him he checks out an abandoned shack, stocks up on supplies, trades in for a new pair of boots, and listens to his iPod (at least digital music makes it into the future). The next day Eli is confronted by a gang of road hijackers and in a fight sequence paying homage to the House of Blue Leaves’ silhouetted fight scene from “Kill Bill Vol. 1” Leaving no one alive but a woman acting as a decoy for the gang let me quote another Tarantino flick, “From Duck ‘til Dawn,” in saying that he’s a “mean mother-f’n servant of God.”

Eli makes his way into a Western-looking town ran by Carnegie (Oldman). Carnegie is a good ole boy and big fish in a small pond, ruling over the small town from the upper floor of a bar. He sends out his minion of thugs to bring back books, looking for the One Book to rule them all (one book to find them and in the darkness bind them…) Eli comes to town and Carnegie is so impressed with him that he lets him stay the night to mull over the decision to work for him. Eli isn’t interested in that because he’s heading west for his own reasons. Carnegie isn’t the type of guy who takes an answer he doesn’t already give to someone and when he finds that Eli has a book, THE BIBLE, he orders Eli to hand it over or be killed. Eli isn’t much for either happening and makes his way out of town.

Solara (Kunis) is so impressed by Eli, or maybe just intrigued, that she tags along with him. She was born after whatever happened and like most of the rest of society, doesn’t know how to read. Eli tries to get rid of her but the two become traveling partners as he further attempts to head west. She finds that he’s been walking around, trying to head west, for 31 years. But the who, what, where, when, why, and how of his life is kept secret. As they’re on the run from Carnegie and his gang they have a few misadventures before they make it to the ocean and the Promised Land (of Alcatraz Island).

The movie started out okay, then went bad, kept being bad, got a little bit better, got more interesting, had a great twist, and then went dumb, all in that order. It felt like Washington was walking around a “digitally” created apocalypse and it shows. Also, the use of sepia and gray filters did not feel completely even. The Hughes Brothers should have really checked out “The Road” or at least Hillcoat’s “The Proposition,” or maybe even “The Road Warrior” and come up with compelling gangmembers. Something.

The movie comes with two twists. The first twist works WELL and I really liked it. Carnegie has his ass handed to him and this veritable King Nothing watches as his empire dismantles. My problem was with plot twist number two, which is that Eli is BLIND. I’m sorry, my suspension of disbelief became shot to hell on that idea. The Hughes Brothers may have tried implying it in a few scenes but very rarely, if ever, did Washington’s character seem to be even remotely blind. Having sight and reading the book with regards to Plot Point #1 would’ve worked just fine; instituting Plot Point #2 but not entirely backing it up through the entire production is just bad filmmaking.

And finally the amount of heavy-handed Christianity in the film seemed a bit much. If not for language and violence this film bordered on being something that could’ve been shown on, or produced by, the Trinity Broadcasting Network. I’ll probably catch some flack for this because I usually praise the use of spirituality in a movie but this movie reeks of Christianity in every frame. Society as a whole is “lost” and the Bible leads the way. Eli is following the Word of God to deliver the book west. Carnegie is the Devil wanting to use the Scripture for his own purposes…

Watch for Tom Waits (yep he made it to the apocalypse, too) as Engineer in Carnegie’s town and Malcolm McDowell as Lombardi, a librarian.

My grade: C

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28
Jul
09

Movie News and Views July 28, 2009 Trailer Edition

“The Collector” – An ex-con goes to steal from his employer only to find the employer’s family held hostage by a masked killer who has intricately placed traps in their country home. Opens July 31, 2009

“I Can Do Bad All By Myself” – Another Madea story, this time she stops a 16-year-old girl and her brother from looting her and sends them to live with her hard-drinking nightclub singing aunt. Opens September 11, 2009

“Jennifer’s Body” – Megan Fox stars in a high school horror film (written by Diablo Cody) about a girl who uses sex to kill teenage boys. Opens September 18, 2009

“Ninja Assassin” – Asian pop star Rain is one of the world’s deadliest assassins, taken from birth and trained in a secret society. When his best friend dies he breaks free, vanishes, and waits to exact his revenge. Opens November 25, 2009

“The Book of Eli” – Denzel Washington is a lone man who is trying to bring society redemption through knowledge culmed from the aforementioned book. Gary Oldman is the sheriff of a small town determined to take the book. Opens January 15, 2010

“Hot Tub Time Machine” – Four college friends return to a ski lodge, complaining about their lives when they discover their hot tub takes them back to 1986. Stars John Cusack and Rob Corddry. Opens February 26, 2010

“Alice in Wonderland” – Walt Disney produced and Tim Burton directed 3-D story based on the books. Stars Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Sheen, and Alan Rickman. Opens May 5, 2010

“Dorian Gray” – Based on the novel, “The Picture of Dorian Gray” about a man (Ben Barnes) who becomes the subject of a painting. He pursues a hedonistic lifestyle and the painting changes while he looks exactly the same. Coming soon!

“Tron: Legacy” – Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) is the son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) who must venture into a computer game’s world to find his father who has disappeared. Also stars Olivia Wilde. Coming soon!

26
Mar
09

Remake Radar: The Taking of Pelham One Two Three

taking_of_pelham_one_two_three_1974Welcome to Remake Radar, where we take on Hollywood’s penchant for remaking films for better or worse (which is most of the time). This month’s movie:

 

“The Taking of Pelham One Two Three” (1974)

 

Stars: Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Hector Elizondo, Earl Hindman, and Jerry Stiller.

 

Director: Joseph Sargent

 

Story: Four gunmen with color codenames hijack the Pelham 1-2-3 subway train. They demand $1 million in one hour for the train and the hostages they are holding. A veteran NY policeman handles negotiations and tries tracking down the identities of the gunmen. But with the tunnel surrounded by cops on both sides, how are the gunmen planning on getting away?

 

What do we know now?: In 1998 the movie was remade for TV starring Edward James Olmos, Vincent D’onofiro, Donnie Wahlberg, and Lorraine Bracco. And it’s being remade for the silver screen again, this time starring Denzel Washington and John Travolta, directed by Tony Scott (“Top Gun”,”Déjà vu”). It’s technically renamed “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3.” It will be in theatres June 12, 2009.

 

Original Trailer:

 

 

Remake trailer:

 

 

taking_of_pelham_1-2-3_2009

02
Jul
08

Movies on DVD Review: Deja Vu

 

 

I think I’ve seen this “time travel” thing before…

 

Starring Denzel Washington, Val Kilmer, Jim Caviezel, Bruce Greenwood, and Paula Patton. Directed by Tony Scott.

 

Tony Scott took a stab at the sci-noir genre (science fiction film noir) and delivered this little ditty called, “Déjà Vu.” In post-Katrina New Orleans, a ferry blows up killing 543 people aboard it. ATF agent Doug Carlin (Washington) is called in to investigate. When the body of a beautiful woman (Paula Patton) is found washed-up Carlin finds that she’s a key connection to the bombing. Agent Paul Pryzwarra (Kilmer) brings Carlin into a top secret project whereby they can view and hear four days in the past within a radius of a few miles. It’s there that they find the villain who must be stopped: Carroll Oerstadt (Caviezel).

 

What works, as well as what’s cool about this movie, are the concepts. The “four day window into the past” is presented as a time stream that cannot be rewound. You can look in/around a certain area but you can’t go back; everything is in the “real time” of that dimension. Also, since it is “time,” you can observe anything. Anything. The problem with that (as shown in the movie as well) is if you “hone-in” on one individual, it’s possible that you may lose whatever else you were trying to pay attention to.

 

And this “time stream” has limitations. First off, the amount of energy to create it is monumental. Doing anything but observing causes massive power shortages. Secondly, it’s within a fixed area; in this movie, downtown/waterfront New Orleans. This also leads to a really cool scene where Denzel takes a Humvee and a mobile unit to track the bad guy and uses a helmet device that “broadcasts” the past while Denzel is driving in the present.

 

My main problem with this film is that it felt like a thriller movie trapped inside an action movie. Several times there were blank stares, like the characters were thinking one thing, or the characters being watched KNEW they were being watched. Unfortunately, Scott treats the material like, “Don’t think about this too much. Unplug your brain and enjoy the ride.”

 

And that’s probably the best way to watch this film. Nevermind the questions you may have; the characters in the movie ask questions OUT LOUD that are NEVER answered. I could throw out a few I have, like how is it that Carlin causes destruction and possible deaths to regular citizens, and is never fined or chewed-out for it? But in action/adventure movies no one stays around to clean up cars destroyed, houses blown to bits, people shot and killed, etc. It’s like Nicholas Angel from “Hot Fuzz,” telling Danny that police work isn’t like actual movies in the fact that it involves “more paperwork.”

 

As far as acting goes, most did a pretty good job. Denzel is Denzel, wise-cracking police detective. Paula Patton does a little more than just being the object/key to what’s going on, but not much. Val Kilmer is a plot device. Adam Goldberg is the technology guy who believes in Washington. And Bruce Greenwood is just cashing a paycheck.

 

My grade: B-