Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hot Tube Time Machine (2010)




"Hot Tub Time Machine" Review
By Paolo Sardinas

"Hot Tub Time Machine", yes this really is the title, tells the tale of three men in their 40's who try to re-capture their youth. No, that isn't a joke and yes, that is the main plot of the film. The film features an assortment of crude, raunchy, obnoxious, jokes which are nonetheless funny but not a laugh riot. If your fan a fan of this comedy then you will feel absolutely satisfied with your viewing experience. Those of who remember the rockin' 80's will definitely have their own sense of nostalgia, even if the things that make you remember are fairly obvious and expected.

Nick, Lou, and Adam, the three friends who wish to reclaim their youth, are awashed in middle aged madness, haunted by memories of their youthful selves back in the 1980s, the time that they were young and dumb yet so innocent. Adam (John Cusack) has just been dumbed by his live-in girlfriend. Nick (Craig Robinson) has a stable marriage, if you consider his wife is cheating on him stable. He works at the local dog grooming salon, a constant reminder of the music career he could've had but ultimately didn't. And Lou (Rob Corddry) is an alcoholic divorce whose riding the "Crazy Train" towards self destruction. The film doesn't ask you to feel sorry for them, it instead makes you laugh at their own self misery.

The three are joined by Adam's geeky, 20-year-old nephew Jacob (Clark Duke) as they head down to their once favorite hangout spot. A ski resort that holds some vague memories and was once the scene of their own youthful mischief. The place is nothing like it was before, a run down ski lodge which could pass for a Motel 6. After one night of partying, the three end up inside of a-yes, a Hot Tub Time Machine-and wake up back in the year 1986 when the place was filled with bad haircuts, Jerry curls, Miami Vice memorabilia, casset players, and of course neon colors. Even Chevy Chase pops up.

Taking inspiration from classic 80's films, more so "Back to the Future" thany anything else, the film starts the same ol' beginning of last year's hit "The Hangover". Three friends waking up after a night of partying to find themselves in an unpredictable predicament. George McFly and Crispin Glover also pop up for an appearance or two.

John Cusack is, of course, an 80's icon himself. Starring in films like "Say Anything" and "The Sure Thing", but the fact of the matter is that Cusack isn't funny. As an 80's icon playing a character who re-visits the 80's he might be able to create some chuckles but he doesn't have the comedic power that his co-stars like Robinson and Corddry have themselves.

Giving a plot summary would be a waste of time considering the fact that there really isn't a plot. Director Steve PInk, along with a trio of screenwriters (Josh Heald, Sean Anders and John Morris) create absolute madness. The film never stops. Delivering one dirty joke after another, after another, after another. Each scene, or each frame I should say, is filled with more jokes than there should be. Which is something that can really make you question why you just payed money to watch this film. But at times the strategy works, the uncanny madness and barrage of raunchy sex jokes prove to be quite titillating and never cease to pull some kind of expression out of the audience.

After the crazy plot calms down a bit, which it never really does, you start to expect and ending of sorts. Probably the kind where everyone learns a lesson and goes home happy with a new outlook on life. Well the real ending is kind of like that. The problem with the actual ending is that it really is just and ending. Maybe its because the its so utterly imaginative that it never really cements itself in your brain and maybe thats because of the fact that you're still trying to figure out what the hell just happened. Its a big wish that catapults the film into another realm of wishful thinking while at the same time almost ruining your movie going experience.

The movie suggests, well at least this reviewer thought so, that the 80's were filled with heavy metal, spandex, cheesy shows, bad haircuts, hip hop that was somewhat old school, and cocaine and that it wasn't easy growing up. Which is fairly obvious in the facial expressions of Nick, Adam, and Lou's younger selves. They are scared and confused. The movie itself is the latter but it never ceases to bring some form of laughter. It becomes apparent that the three amigos aren't happy now, in the 21st century, but they weren't all that happy in the 80's. I mean after all, its what Cusack said "All we had was Reagan and AIDS."

Grade: B-

For more reviews head on over to http://www.movieweb.com/u/filmfreak2395/reviews

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Runaways (2010)


''The Runaways'' Review
By Paolo Sardinas

Most bio-pics about hard rocking rockers all begin with the person or band that the film is based on, searching for themselves and looking for a way into the music scene. "The Runaways" fallows suit in almost every way possible but does so it a true and visceral way. The film is set in sunny Southern California a place where teenagers are left out to search for themselves while hanging out at the local burger joints and experimenting with new "things", many of these teens are looking for a way into the music biz, Joan Jett and Cherie Currie, played by Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning, found a way in making rock a place for women as well as men.  
 
The film works as a double biopic following the tale of Currie (her memoir is what the film is based upon) and Jett as they struggle with fame and making music. Joan seems to be a bit more calm than Currie, who was nearly booed off the stage when she sang her David Bowie's "Lady Grinning Soul" at her school's talent show. Their big break come in the form of Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon), a flamboyant promoter and record producer who takes the girls under his control. Fowley brings in Currie and Jett and a couple of other girls and teaches them how to strut like their male counterparts.  
 
Dakota Fanning as Curie proves her acting skills once again reaming in total control of herself and then letting loose and will on the stage while eventually leaving the band because its all a bit much. Their is an obvious romance between Jett and Curie but its a combination of love and drugs that send Curie out of the band while Jett moves on to create other music. The film is well made but at time it can feel like they could have done more to get inside of these young girls' heads. Floria Sigismondi, a director of music videos, makes her feature film debut here and its fairly evident she knows how to shoot music. Cheri is the pin-up girl and the front man, or woman, for the band while Jett is the hard edged backbone. The two's relationship, an on screen kiss has been the center of discussion for the past few months, are also the biggest enemies , each attempting to get somewhere. Evidently its Jett the one you root for. her iconicism is what makes her relate able to today's teens. The punk aesthetic and raw nerve is what makes her the one you root for.   

Both Stewart and Fanning's performances are the reasons as to why you want to watch this film in the first place. They create these real and believable people who are relate able to all of those punk rockers out there. Stewart, who only other real on-screen experience is playing Bella from the crappy Twilight films, really shows a bit of maturity by taking on this calm, cool, and also complex role. But in the end its Fanning who steals the show from Stewart. Her acting abilities, which have been evident since we first saw her as a child, expands on those abilities here in this film and never lets her character become dull or second rate. At times you'll either be dazzled by her or appalled by her but either way your eye is captured on her performance.  
 
Michael Shannon as Fowley shows just the right amount of acting prowess that he showed in Revolutionary Road, for which he gained a Best Supporting Actor nod, and creates the whole fearful, but cliched, record producer that has become all too common throughout films like these. But he fits the role and does his best while offering something new.  
 
Cinematographer BenoƮt Debie shoots the film in a grainy and smeary look which recreates the gritty looks of the 70's punk asthetic. While director Sigismondi's good eye for detail helps guide the film's period piece aspect along. "The Runaways" is not a perfect film nor does it pretend to be, its an energetic re-creation of the wild times and happenings that come along with creating a band; a roller coaster that never seems to end. At times the film loses focus of just who it wants to follow, but whether it be Currie or Jett, Sigismondi shoots each scene with enough energy to immaculate that never ending coaster of "The Runaways".

Grade: B

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Brooklyn's Finest (2010)



'Brooklyn's Finest' Review
By Paolo Sardinas
Within the first fifteen to twenty minutes you can begin to tell that this film, 'Brooklyn's Finest', is pretty much going nowhere. The opening scene, featuring Vincent D'Onofrio as a washed up drug dealer and Ethan Hawke crooked cop sitting in car. The film's main theme is thrown around, "There is no right and wrong, just righter and wronger". Antoin Fuqua's last attempt at a tale o crooked cops was back in 2001 with Training Day and since then Fuqua has done pretty much nothing but flops. Fuqua's obviously in his own realm here, his comfort zone, but we, the viewers, aren't.

The film takes place in gritty Brooklyn, obviously, and tells he tale of three cops whose lives intertwine more than they know. The first being Richard Gere's
 Eddie. A cop whose a week from retirement and couldn't give a damn less about things. He wakes up every morning with his typical swish of booze and the thought of blowing his head open. He's constantly ridiculed and mocked by his fellow officers who find Eddie, much like his young new partner, a mess. He's just going with the flow until he can get out and romancing with a prostitute he regularly visits played by Shannon Kane. You do get the hint that there is more between Gere and his friend, intypical Gere fashion.

Ethan Hawke plays Sal. A detective whose deep into religion and has four kids with two on the way and a house thats infested with mold. He's the first one to go in during all of the drug stings and is always the first one to find the cash, cash that he needs to support his family. Don Cheadle plays the third intersecting character Clarence/Tango, a cop who has gone undercover and managed to infiltrate one of the biggest drug trades in the projects and has created a brotherly bond with main gangster Casanova "Chaz" Phillips played by Wesley Snipes
. Their relationship conflicts Tango who has a real ball-breaker on him played by Ellen Barkin. A couple of conflicted cops who attempt to pave a way through life while also getting their hands a bit dirty. 
Cheadle does well in his role. Maybe a little too well. His undercover cop is played with strong emotion and dedication to the job while also being conflicted as to whether or not he's gotten too far in. The role suits him unlike our other conflicted cop Eddie. Richard Gere, in my opinion, doesn't suit the role of the suicidal, booze drinking, soon to be ex-cop. It simply doesn't fit the mold to deliver a performance that can elevate this character to its full conflicted possibilities. Throughout the film we never feel as if we should feel bad for him and hate him. Whether or not to revel in his pain, something that was all too abundant in Fuqua's Training Day but is left out from most of Brooklyn's Finest
Fuqua's film moves quick, it doesn't take the time to sit you down and explain the whole ordeal. Chopped up and delivered to you on a silver platter. The script, written by a former transit worker named Michael C. Martin. The films falls to its over the top and way too obvious cliches one too many times. Fuqua seems to have been more interested in showing the bloody sequences take take place throughout the film rather than actually developing his characters and taking a hard look into true justice. The ending seemed like a clash of all of the film's cliches and over the top theatrics and accomplishes absolutely nothing by its tragedies.

Another actor
 that appears is Lili Taylor who plays Hawke's wife. But the little screen time that is given too her doesn't help to reinforce the relationship that her Hawke's character share together. The interplay is done well but ultimately feels forced. What saves the film, in all, are the performances of the actors. When the script goes flat, which is most of the time, the actors pick up again. Especially Cheadle with his slow burning performance. And while Gere is mis casted the rest of the film isn't. All-in-all, Antoine Fuqua's entertaining but ultimately over the top 'Brooklyn's Finest' is a complex film that never reaches its potential due to its abundance of typical cop film cliches.
Grade: C

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Crazies (2010)



'The Crazies' Review
By Paolo Sardinas

The Crazies, a modern day re-make of a George A. Romero classic, joins the slew of other horror re-makes released over the last couple of years. But what sets this one apart is its free spirited, yet faithful, atmosphere that creates a thrilling experience. Its not your typical horror re-make, nor is it just any other horror thrill. Its a well made, well shot, and well acted thriller that always manages to keep you enthralled and entertained on whats happening on screen. 

Timothy Olyphant's town sheriff is standing in the stadium at a local baseball game when the town drunk shows up. He seems, well, drunk but with an extra twist. He's carrying a loaded shotgun. Whether or not he realizes what he's doesn't matter, what does matter is that he isn't drunk. Yes, he is a "crazy" but after a heated confrontation the man is shot and killed. The sheriff immediately knows something is up when accounts of "people killing other people and then just sitting there" are rising. Eventually men wearing gas masks take away the infected, which we later find out are going bonkers do to water contamination, to little concentration camps and they all get examined. Our main protagonist breaks through the barrier to go rescue his wife who is thought be infected. This is actually when the movie starts. 

After a slow beginning "The Crazies" picks up and never lets go. Its a tense and suspense filled 101 minutes filled with plenty of wide angle shots that bring you in to the "theres something right behind you" aspect of the film. Olyphant is entertaining and does well throughout the second half of the film when him and his group of friends attempt to escape from the quarantined area. At points the film's narrative will take a little joy ride but in the end it never loses focus of the route its trying to take. 

Director Breck Eisner, veteran TV commercial maker, does well with his first feature flick. His use of, like I mentioned before, wide angle shots help to create that tension and suspense that is abundant throughout the film. The original George A. Romeo version from the 70's was fun. Filling up the screen with these "zombies that aren't really zombies" type characters while still managing to entertain no matter how preposterous. This is one horror re-make that gets it right. It improves on things from its original counterpart while also injecting something new and fresh to the overall product. "The Crazies" is fun, filled with plenty of blood, gore, and suspense.

Grade: B+

Box Office Report


Weekly Box Office Report

February 28, 2010
Shutter Island is once again numero uno at the North American box office. The thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio grossed $22.2 million. The fourth collaboration between the DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese is proving one of the year's earliest hits. The week's the big releases, Kevin Smith's homage to buddy cop films Cop Out and the well-made horror re-make The Crazies, made a decent $18.5 million and $16.5 million respectively. Avatar continued its stay on in the top ten at fourth place with $14.0 million with Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lighting Thief rounding out the top five with $9.8 million. Check below for the full list. 

1) Shutter Island - $22.2 million
2) Cop Out - $18.5 million
3) The Crazies - $16.5 million

4) Avatar - $14.0 million
5) Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief - $9.8 million
6) Valentine's Day - $17.1 million
7) Dear John - $7.3 million
8) The Wolfman - $ 9.8 million
9) Tooth Fairy - $4.5 million
10) Crazy Heart - $3.0 million

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Ghost Writer (2010)








'The Ghost Writer' Review
By Paolo Sardinas

It would seem that Polanski is one of, if not the only, director alive who knows perfectly well how to create paranoia on the big screen. His classic films like Repulsion show perfectly well the capabilities of a paranoid person when under extreme situations. After spending most of his young life living in an intense fear of paranoia (running from the Nazis as a child, growing up in Communist era Poland), Polanski knows what it is. That's why his latest film, The Ghost Writer, plays out so perfectly well. Its hard to ignore the director's current "predicament" but its hard to ignore his art. 

The Ghost Writer, his first in four years, follows an author (played by Ewan McGregor who is tasked to write the memoir of an exiled and controversial British prime minister named Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan who is the best thing about this film). Yes, feel free to make the Tony Blair connections. McGregor is the replacement for Lang's former "ghost" writer, oh by the way McGregor is never given a name, he's just the "ghost", who was found dead in the water, ala Chinatown. Now of course no one just "falls" into a roaring body of water. Luckily that first "ghost writer" wrote a first draft of the new memoir.

Now of course that writer dies days before a controversial new scandal would arise claiming that Lang approved the act of torturing suspects in the Middle East. But of course a Polanski political thriller isn't like everyother political thriller. This one features an outstanding cast which also includes Olivia Williams playing Lang's strong and, quite frankly, powerful wife and Kim Catrall (yes from Sex and the City) playing his assistant. McGregor begins to investigate this political conspiracy and the death of his predecessor and unravels a rather twisty plot.
 

Unlike other political thrillers, Polanski takes the time to truly delve into a story. Lighting up the screen with an intense feeling of suspense. Is it a slow burn, yes, but its a good burn. The film, based off of a novel by Robert Harris, is engrossing. It follows one story and then, when least expect it, it turns around into something else.

The film's acting, like I already mentioned, is superb. Real performances which help bring the screen and characters to life. McGregore shines in his role, one which is fits him perfectly. I personally haven't been to satisfied by his latest performances; he returns to the screen with this role which is, arguably, one of his best. Pierce Brosnan plays that exiled prime minister to a T and delivers the most compelling performance on the screen. Also making an appearance is the always great Tom Wilkinson playing a rather shady character. Polanski leads all of these fine actors in a rather outstanding film which is not his best but is, for a film edited in a prison cell, rather extraordinary.

Grade: 
 
A-

Brand New Nightmare on Elm Street trailer

Here is the brand new trailer for the re-make of the horror classic Nightmare on Elm Street. Will it be good? Judge for yourselves below.




Shutter Island (2010)



'Shutter Island' Review 
By Paolo Sardinas

There is a scene early on in Shutter Island, the latest from master filmmaker Martin Scorsese, that pans from side to side and features an entire group of Nazi guards being killed. To call the scene jaw-dropping would be an understatement but to call Martin Scorsese just another filmmaker is an understatement. At sixty-seven years old the famed director is still making movies that entertain. His latest, Shutter Island, is a psychological thriller that takes place on, and in, a mental asylum in the middle of the ocean. Its not Scorsese's best work but within another ten years or so, it will more than likely become one of his most underrated films.

The story follows Leonardo DiCaprio (in his fourth outing with Scorsese) playing U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels and his partner Chuck Aule played by Mark Ruffalo. They're sent to investigate the disappearance of Rachel Solondo, a patient who possibly escaped from the mental asylum Ashecliffe Hospital. The two are barricaded in when a hurricane its the island cutting off all connection. The two are trapped between the hospital's warden, played by Ted Levine, and the head administrator Dr. Cawley (Sir Ben Kingsley). His treatments for curing the "insane" are considered revolutionary, don't forget its set in the year 1954. Teddy is plagued and haunted by visions and nightmares of his dead wife, played by Michelle Williams, and the atrocities he witnessed during World War II. All while digging deeper into what really goes on on Shutter Island. 

Dennis Lehane's novel, the same author who wrote Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone, is a twisty and turning thriller. But if you love The Twilight Zone, or just know how to use your head every now and then, you should be able to figure out the book's big twist finale by the middle of it, or at least know in which direction its going in. Now that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the ride. The same can be said for the film adaptation. The film starts with an old norish and Hitchcock feel to it which is guided along by the fantastic score. By the middle you should already have a clear sense of what's going on but yet the film holds you in your seat, even though you can more or less surmise whats going to happen next. 

I enjoyed the film for its style. Its an atmospheric film which is more chilling and creepy then just outright scary. Scorsese was inspired by director Sam Fuller, the director of Shock Corridor, and it shows. But you can never hold the film's B-movie style against it. The cast that leads this film is the main highlights and keeps the film going even when it starts to lag. 

DiCaprio, like any great actor, gets better every time he makes a film. Or at least every time he makes a film with Scorsese. I'm fairly positive DiCaprio can play just about anything he wants and his portrayal of a man disturbed and haunted by events in his life is no different. Since the film, essentially, revolves around the character of Teddy Daniels its important you have a great actor to play him. DiCaprio may not be De Niro but hes one of the better actors around. The rest of the cast in this film is particularly good. Ben Kinglsey, like always, delivers a fine and chilling performance followed by the equally chilling, but fairly absent, Ted Levine. Mark Ruffalo is definitely an underrated actor who always delivers something good and here is no exception. We also get some scenes with Max Von Sydow, Jackie Earl Haley pops up and Emily Mortimer even joins the cast. 

Scorsese spends the entire film creating a mood. An atmosphere that no matter how much you may dislike, keeps you totally invested throughout the film's 2 hour and 18 minute running time. While somethings are cliched, the flickering lights being the most obvious, it always manages to keep you focused on the screen and not on your watch. The film's authenticity keeps it afloat even when it bogs down about halfway through and then picks back up during the start of the third act. The cinematography is gorgeous along with the art direction. Scorsese knew the kind of film he wanted to make and in my opinion, he just about succeeded. After making almost fifty films over the past four decades Scorsese proves he's still got it even though Shutter Island is no Raging Bull.
 

Shutter Island is an atmospheric thriller. Its also Scorsese's most "Hollywood" film since Cape Fear but that doesn't mean its dumb Hollywood. Its a smart thriller that definitely know where its going but does hit a few bumps while getting there. When the story doesn't come through the acting does and makes the ride a whole lot smoother. When compared to the director's previous work it doesn't come close but as its own stand alone film, Shutter Island engrossing, atmospheric, thriller whose ending makes it worth the wait.

Grade:
 B+

Edge of Darkness (2010)




'Edge of Darkness' Review

By Paolo Sardinas

It's been seven years since Mel Gibson last acted in a film. Within his seven year hiatus he directed the hugely controversial "The Passion of the Christ" and the thriller centering around the Mayans "Apocalypto". His return to the big screen charts familiar territory; its a revenge thriller. Now The thing with revenge thrillers is that, for the most part, they are simplistic little films. They follow their own formulas and time and time again just about every one of them falls flat to that same formula. Martin Campbell's latest action flick centers around corporate conspiracies and the tale of one man's revenge. While Edge of Darkness doesn't do much to get away from that common formula it does offer some suspenseful moments, most of which are well done, and delivers a long awaited return to the screen by Mel Gibson.

"Edge of Darkness" starts with former Boston detective Tom Craven (Mel Gibson) getting a much awaited visit from his daughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic). Throughout the entire film's opening minutes we automatically get the sense that something is wrong. Aside from the vomiting of green vomit Emma seems distraught and something is definitely wrong. As they make their way to the doctor's office Emma is gunned down on Tom's front porch by an unknown assailant. Initially the media believes that it was a hit targeted towards him but it turns out there is something else at play. Emma worked for a nuclear research corporation named Northmoor who has various shady operations and government contracts. Tom believes they had something to do with his daughter's death, so he sets off to investigate the murder and eventually discovers a corporate conspiracy.

Tom gets some help from and equally shady cleaner from the US government named Darius Jedburgh. Originally the role was supposed to be played by Robert De Niro but Ray Winstone does a fairly good job. He travels the state of Massachusetts looking for answers and the truth. Be the movie doesn't lag as it offers sporadic moments of violence to keep things moving along and prevents the film from becoming one overly long and redundant film.

Gibson's last on screen performance was the 2002 cheeky sci-fi thriller Signs. But in this film Gibson proves he hasn't lost his talent. He seems to have aged quite a bit since the last time we saw him in front of the camera but his aged and almost scarred face helps to bring the character of an enraged but deeply vengeful father to life. His believability as the mourning father can be felt but he never over does it. Gibson injects the right amount of tension an emotion to the role to help guide the film along. He also dons a native Boston accent which, from my understanding, sounds quite original and believable. During the action scenes we get Gibson doing what Gibson does best, kicking ass. But none of it is delivered in a pop-corn ridiculousness that we are so used to seeing nowadays.

The rest if supporting cast, along with Gibson, help to bring the film to life. Winstone does equally as good in hat role about the corporate cleaner. A British man whose outlook on life is about as dark as his black jacket. A man whose equally as charming as he is dark and mysterious. Danny Huston stars alongside the two powerhouse actors as the film's main baddie. He, while it may not be his best performance, does remarkable well. Novakovic isn't in the film for a very long time so she doesn't exactly leave a lasting impressions but all in all the actors do a fine job.

Based off of the original British mini-seris starring Bob Peck created in the 80's, the film follows its original material faithfully, to a point. Its common knowledge that adapting a six hour along mini-series into an almost two hour along movie doesn't always end up so well. Mainly because of the fact that its four hours less of time that you have to expand on things. This is the most flawed area of the film. The story and structure. While the film stars out fairly good the rest of it always feels like its missing something. Frankly I would of enjoyed seeing this movie run a little bit longer and actually extend some of its scenes. The adaptation was written by William Monahan and Andrew Bovell. Monohan penned Scorsese's Oscar winning "The Departed" and returns hear with some Bostonian touches to the film's plot.

Campbell, who also directed the extremely well made re-boot to the James Bond franchise Casino Royale directs Edge of Darkness with a short but strong punch. He never lets the film fall victim to some of the genre's overly used cliches and common errors but he never quite perfects what could of been more of an emotional film. Most of which comes from Gibson's performance. Nonetheless Campbell gives this genre just what it needed, something that is a bit different and isn't your typical political thriller. While it may not be the perfect film for Gibson's comeback to the screen its definitely a step towards that goal. Edge of Darkness may not be perfect but its definitely an enthralling film, you know, the kind we don't really get anymore

Grade: 
B

The Book of Eli (2010)



'The Book of Eli' Review
By Paolo Sardinas

Lately we have had a huge surge in post-apocalyptic films. Whether its the bleak and deserted feel of John Hillcoat's The Road or the bombastic end of the world drunken on CGI like in 2012. Yes, we have seen our fair share as of late but the latest is a mix of action and religion, philosophy and typical end of the world, roving biker gangs, ala Road Warrior which find Denzel Washington as a man whose on a quest. Now granted its the middle of January so no one is expecting any cinematic achievements, but as hard as I tried to enjoy this supposed "action thriller" for what it is and not focus on the negatives, the truth is that there are so many that its hard not to.

Alan and Albert Hughes, a.k.a The Huges Brothers, direct The Book of Eli which takes place in the previously mentioned post-apocalyptic wasteland which is roamed by biker gangs, thieves, and thats about it. Its been thirty years since the "flash" that wiped out the entire populations and practically destroyed Earth. Denzel comes across a shanty little town, while heading down west, which is governed by Carnegie (the always entertaining Gary Oldman). He hangs out in his bar/brothel thing that all of the bikers come in to have a drink, or two. It turns out that Carnegie is looking for a book, a very important book I might add which has great power. Well it just so happens that Eli is caring that book and happens to be carrying the book. After Eli refuses to hand the book over Carnegie chases after him and we get gun fights, explosions, and cannibalistic old people.

The Hughes Brothers shoot everything a very monochromatic style which features some slow-motion. The only problem is that we've seen it again and again and again. The same cliches that appear time and time again in other films are abundant throughout The Book of Eli's run. It all feels old, wasted, and totally unoriginal.

Rather than continuing the story line throughout the entire film, whatever storyline it had, the film becomes weighed down by its third act which focuses on everything faith related. Now its not necessarily a bad thing seeing as how it could make sense. But the problem with it is that it never really grasps your attention. It just all lies by as more philosophical mumbo jumbo in a slow moving, and depressing, action flick. And since the entire film is set up with the logic that Eli is a complete bad-ass, nothing can stop him, he'll whip your ass with his machete, that once the film reaches it's supposed "twist ending" anything that happened before turns out to make no sense whatsoever.

Both Washington and Oldman do the best with what they have. Which is virtually nothing. Oldman has most of the lines and while being a bit over the top still manages to entertain, like he always does. Washington however has virtually no lines, or at least less than what you expect him to have. He does his best trying to convey some kind of emotion towards this character. But the real scene stealer is a quick appearance by Michael Gambon as an old man who along with his wife, played by Frances de la Tour who not only kill but also eat their visitors. They actually make the scene worth watching as it leads to one big action sequences which is, ideally, the only real action sequences throughout the film. One long continuous shot that goes on for a little bit long than it should have but is nonetheless one of the only positives in the film.

The Book of Eli ends up being one big stylized action film thats just as weak on its story as it is on its use of color. The Biblical references and the entire theme about faith that literally consumes the entire third act of the film was a bit of waste since nothing can really save the previous forty five minutes that was already endured.
 


Grade: D