Posts Tagged ‘gary oldman

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!

15
Jul
09

Movies on DVD Review: The Unborn

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There should be a law against making a horror movie this boring.

Starring Odette Yustman, Gary Oldman, Meagan Good, Idris Elba, and Carla Gugino. Directed by David S. Goyer

The story: Caey Beldon (Yustman) is going for her daily run when she spots a missing glove on the pavement. She picks it up and suddenly sees a kid, who then turns into a dog with a mask of a human face on which runs into the woods. She follows it and discovers a baby fetus buried in the dirt. Bad visions, right?

Cut to Casey talking with her friend Romy (Good) about dreams. Not a lot of information there. We, the audience, come to find that Casey’s mom (Gugino) committed suicide at a local mental hospital. Aside from that we find out that she goes to college (studying what, we never know) and has a boyfriend named Mark (Cam Gigandet). More and more she’s confronted by the spirit of a dead boy, but what does it mean?

Her life is further complicated when she develops a condition in which her eyes start changing color. Afterwards she finds out that she had a twin brother who died during childbirth because the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, suffocating him.

With a lot of pouting, walking around, more pouting, and more walking around, Casey digs through a box of her mother’s belongings and finds 16mm film of the mental hospital (why would someone keep that?) and a newspaper clipping about a woman who had escaped Auschwitz.

More walking and pouting as she goes to the old folks home and meets Sofi Kozma (Jane Alexander). Sofi talks with her a little bit but when shown a picture that includes the dead boy in it, she freaks and sends Casey away. Casey is surprised (as we all are) when Sofi gives a call back to Casey at midnight and invites her back to talk with her. We now learn about the dead boy: he was Sofi’s brother. It seems that he and Sofi were twins experimented on by the Nazis during WWII. Sofi’s brother died but then became possessed by a demon that tries to use twins to come into our world. “What is a twin but a reflection…?” Sofi asks (or a convenient plot device?) Sofi encourages her to find Rabbi Sendak. Another plot point: Sofi is Casey’s grandmother (which is interesting seeing as Casey’s mother was supposedly adopted. Funny how those coincidences occur…)

Casey confronts Sendak (read: more pouting) and asks him to perform an exorcism from an ancient book she stole from the library. Sendak (Oldman) has never performed an exorcism before and wants some time to think about it. The slow plodding of everything pisses off the demon who tries ramping-up the tension by killing Sofi by inhabiting the paralyzed senior resident Eli (which is the ONLY scary moment in the entire film). Then, the demon possesses a small kid who kills Romy.

Casey, Mark, and Sendak meet at a basketball court where Sendak says he’ll do an exorcism (read: “Yeah, I’m cashing a check here but I really am tired of your pouting and walking around.”) He recruits Arthur Wyndham (Elba), a man on the faith whose take on exorcisms is “non-denominational.” They, along with a crew including an EMT, travel to the mental hospital (the place where the evil is greatly concentrated) and perform an exorcism on Casey. The demon exacts his wrath and kills those without a name, limited screen time, or limited use (guess who’s left alive?)

And why, oh why, did Casey have to go through this? In one of those “Shamma-Lamma-Ding-Dong” movie twists… she’s pregnant with twins! Oh no!

The worst thing about this move (if you can get past the story/plot) is that as I’ve said earlier, it’s BORING. It’s like someone copied down the recipe for making a horror film but forget the most important ingredient of all: details. The detail of Casey being pregnant would have worked better at the beginning of the movie instead of the end, where no one really cared. In fact the movie lacks any emotional depth aside from Yustman’s constant crying. But overall, I just didn’t care nor did I find it all that scary.

And while I’m ripping into it, what was the deal with the slow-panning aerial view shots? We’re shown an aerial view of Casey’s house (insert audio BOOM), the retirement place (BOOM), the mental hospital (BOOM). Evidently evil likes heights and having its own sound effect.

Boring. Not scary. Completely B.S.

My grade: D- (It would be an F, but there’s plenty o’ Yustman walking around in undies footage)