I recently read a movie critic claim that other critics shouldn’t describe movies by relating them to other movies, which is what I will now do.
These are some things you should watch instead of The Book of Eli:
Mad Max — I mean, this is obvious. If you’re looking for post-apocalyptic motorcycle gangs, drive no further. The Mad Max world is a given. Book of Eli tries to sell you on it.
Sell me on what? That there was a religious war and “the sky opened up, the sun came down, and burned everything?” POST-APOCALYPSE, I get it, just shoot each other already, one of you is gonna get away!
Virtuosity — Here you get a younger Denzel in much better shape. He battles Russell Crowe who’s a cyborg composite of serial killers. Totally entertaining and 80s retro in that 1995 kind of way. You also get great lines like Denzel saying, “reach in the back and hand me that crowd-pleaser.” or Russell Crowe saying, “You see, in your world, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh, but in my world, the one who gave me life doesn’t have any balls.” And don’t even get me started on this scene: “Oh my god… he’s evolving.” Into what?” Cut to:
The Fifth Element — Gary Oldman knows how to play the sadistic bad guy. Or at least he used to. “FOUR STONES! Not one or two or three but FOUR. FOUR STONES!” He’s the same guy in Book of Eli but with worse hair.
That 70s Show — Mila Kunis is a really great actress. She has so much spunk and cuteness it’s like she was a regular girl. And that’s important because growing up as a prostitute in a small town with a blind mother and a father figure who murders people in search of the bible 30 years after the world was destroyed, is like, pretty much the same as growing up in the 70s.
Any Western — The Book of Eli is really a Western. The only thing suggesting otherwise is the whole “we have to protect the Bible in order to rebuild the world” thing. But that’s just not happening for me. Take that away and it’s just a man with a quick draw and a big knife trying to get to Alcatraz so he can save the world. Watch, I don’t know…The Ox-Bow Incident? High Noon? Whatever’s on AMC.
Jeremiah — This is a post-apocalyptic TV show that aired for two seasons before getting canned. Yes, it’s bad and great. Yes, it stars Luke Perry and Malcolm-Jamal Warner. Yes, I watched every episode.
Like Book of Eli, it’s poorly acted, feels like a graphic novel, and is a shameless reworking of genre cliches. Unlike Book of Eli, it’s kind of awesome. Instead of one lone guy playing Jesus and one guy who runs a small-time gang, it explores a bunch of different ways to live in the new non-world world. Some groups take over military bases and grow plants. Some run heavily armed swap meets and horde batteries. Some form cults and wander the earth committing books to memory. Much more fascinating. I need to start writing letters to the sci-fi channel to get this back in production.
So, critic who says I shouldn’t compare movies to other movies, if the one I’m reviewing is just a bunch of scenes from other movies put together, can’t my review be also?
The Book of Eli starts today at AMC Van Ness, Sundance Kabuki, AMC Metreon, CineArts, Century 20 Daly City. If you can find it ask someone on the street for help.