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Tim Bradstreet

Book Of Eli - Thoughts on the film

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Just so we don't blow the film for folks who are interested but have NOT seen it, I'm starting a dedicated thread for those who HAVE.

Love to hear your thoughts.

 

Hopefully Chris Weston and Gary Whitta can drop in on us with more graphics and insight into the filmmaking that can be seen and heard now that we've digested the first great Post Apocalyptic film of the decade. . .

The Book Of Eli.

 

- TB

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Saw it, loved it. It was a pretty great film, it seemed most reviews are comparing it to westerns, and that influence is there. But I think the movie has more in common with samurai films, especially (to me at least, I hope I'm right about it) Zatoichi. There's one thing I really agree with from the CHUD.com review, I think it would have been more interesting if the Hughes Brothers didn't have Oldman playing it as a straight villain (though it was great to see him let loose as a villain again), and have him play it in more of a gray area.

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I saw the movie today. I enjoyed it. The visuals were outstanding. The Hughes Brothers definitely need to make more films. Loved how they show the action scenes. I wanted more close quarters combat and less gunfire. I've been a fan since MENACE II SOCIETY.

 

Denzel was solid. Oldman was amazing. Ray Stevenson was good. Sadly, the rest of the supporting cast was about average. Michael Gambon and Tom Waits were wasted here. They were good, but weren't given much to do.

 

The story was good, though the execution left few surprises until the end. In other words, the story went along about as expected, sometimes predictably and disappointingly so.

 

For the most part, I liked the ending, but I definitely have some Act 3 problems with the film.

 

All that being said, I definitely recommend the film and suggest seeing it on the big screen.

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Yeah, Gambon and Waits were wasted, they were basically cameos. Though I was surprised to see Gambon in it, hell I really didn't even notice it was him until I saw his name in the credits, I've gotten so used to pretty only seeing him as Dumbledore.

 

I do wonder how close the finished film is to Gary's original script, if (well when) he does pop up in here I'd like to find out about what changes were made to it.

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Too bad you guys feel like Waits and Gambon were wasted in the film.

I enjoyed having their presence there, it gave the film a nice weight.

Great to know they would take small roles just to be part of something cool.

 

Here's a cool pic of Ray and our pal, stunt double Jeff Wolfe from the set -

21576_239571094495_583309495_308230.jpg

 

Oldman was fantastic. Ray is always pretty damn good and I loved his whistling the

Morricone

, great touch.

I'll comment more in-depth later. Though one thing I hate spotting is matte/plate shots. It was done pretty well (

rowing to Alcatraz

) but I spotted it and briefly it took me out of the film and onto the stage.

Aside from that small little bitchy bitch I thought the look, the color timing, most all of the plate shots looked and worked pretty damn well.

 

Loved, loved, LOVED the first fight sequence in silhouette. Really effective. Chris Browning was fun there.

Also loved

Malcolm McDowell

showing up at the end. The second I heard his voice . . . ;)

 

Gary, was it you or the Hughes' idea to use the

A Boy And His Dog

poster in the film?

Great touch that, loved it. Harlan Ellison and L.Q. Jones would be proud.

 

Apologies for hiding little spoilers. I know how folks like to read some of this stuff before they see the film. If you haven't seen it, don't look!

 

- TB

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Waits appearing in anything is always a good thing, I just wished he had a little more to do. What's fun with this movie is that after the Zatoichi reveal at the end, going back a trying to remember the little hints that were dropped throughout the film.

 

Regarding spoilers, if you're in this thread, you should have already seen the film - so spoilers should be free game.

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I really enjoyed this film. It provides what I think is a realistic feel for a post-apocalyptic world. The color seems flat, but as the movie moves forward it appropriately maintains the tone of the environment. It is a slow moving, thought provoking film, allowing an individual to process what is happening before jumping to the next scene. The talent involved was exceptional, especially the unexpected short scenes with Malcolm McDowell, Michael Gambon, and Tom Waits.

 

Eli is a fantastic character and well portrayed by Denzel. Eli is competent, motivated, and flawed. His greatest strength seems to be his awareness of his surroundings, but that relevance isn’t even truly realized until the end of the movie. His motivation of course is spiritual, which leads to his greatest flaw in forgetting that his quest is just the means to a greater future for society and almost too late he realizes that he cannot forsake society just to accomplish his spiritual quest.

 

I think the most crucial elements of a post apocalyptic society are well represented. Food is scarce and just about anything that moves is a potential meal, but clean water is gold. In fact only those with great power could even consider using for something as basic as bathing. Knowledge is power, but few are wise enough to seek it, let alone use it to impact the future of society or derive power from it. The most important element of course is the message of hope, when all seems lost. The film portrays in comfortable subtle ways that hope is dependant on spirituality or something greater than we are and often we seek guidance through prophetic words or signs for us to maintain there is a greater future ahead of us.

 

Often post apocalyptic stories seem to like having zombies in them. It could be argued that the premise of zombies was realistically represented in the film through those desperate to survive. Raping and pillaging are just the beginning and starvation can lead to cannibalism. Cannibalism has historically led to a human diseases similar to mad cow disease. The symptoms of which include “the shakes” and insanity. In the film people who have resorted to cannibalism are feared and refused access to what little society there is and in a sense considered to be lost to humanity.

 

The action is well placed and has the right effect on the story without being overwhelming and turning the film into just an action movie. Denzel was well trained/prepared for his martial scenes, adding to the realistic flow of the film. I did have fun seeing a good ole' fashioned Gatling gun too.

 

Mike

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Gary, was it you or the Hughes' idea to use the

A Boy And His Dog

poster in the film?

Great touch that, loved it. Harlan Ellison and L.Q. Jones would be proud.

That's pure Hughes. For an even more geeky reference, one of the rooftop snipers is actually holding Don Johnson's rifle from A Boy and His Dog. :lol:

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That's pure Hughes. For an even more geeky reference, one of the rooftop snipers is actually holding Don Johnson's rifle from A Boy and His Dog. :lol:

 

Holy shit that's awesome, and ya gotta love Vic and Blood.

Incidentally, Richard Corben did an amazing adaptation of that story in comics format back in the mid 90's. Fucking awesome it is.

 

Cheers Gary, really high quality all the way around, from script to screen, from the actors, the locations, the prep, the direction, the marketing . . . Really fantastic work by everyone involved.

It's all downhill from here ;)

 

 

Kidding!

 

- TB

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Power went out yesterday from the ice storm, and I was stuck at work overnight. Thank God the theater is right next door. I check out Eli, and I really dug it. First off, it was hard for me to stay in the film, but it was demanding enough to keep me pulled in (even though everything in town was covered in a blanket of ice, 5 D-bag morons found there way to the theater and had to sit behind me in an empty theater and talk the whole way through <_ .>

 

I swear the one guy was blind because every three minutes they had to explain what was going on because "I don't get it" "When did they say she was blind, I missed that", stop talking watch the fuckin' film. Sorry, had to get that off my chest ;) )

 

Anyway, I really liked it. I think this will deffinatly be one of the films in the genre that will stand out a few years down the line. Looking back at the comtempory films we've seen in the last few years, non really stand out. I hope this one does. The look, the casting, the story, all of it was spot on.

 

The thing I liked most about Eli, the character, was that he was on a mission from God (maybe, maybe not. That's what I got out of it) though, not to go about and preach to everyone he meets, but to preach to the world by preserving the book. The ending was a nice touch with the bible. I guess one could have seen it coming, but I was taken by it. Cheers to you on that Gary.

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Just saw this film. I liked it a lot. Denzel is just simply one hell of a fuckin actor. The supporting cast was awesome. You can never go wrong with Gary Oldman. This wasn't a film I expected Mila Kunis to do but she pulled through for me. Stevenson of course was also a good character. I like how you can see some sort of sympathy in him.

 

The film delivers a good message for those who keep an open mind. I like the little Shylamanesque situation as well.

 

Music was fantastic. I will download the soundtrack because I'm too broke to purchase one. :D

 

Gary - You did a wonderful job writing this film buddy.

 

-Raffi

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The thing with Mila in the movie, is she was too pretty. I know she was suppose to be kinda pampered and all, but still I think they could have uglied/dirtied her up a lot more.

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The film delivers a good message for those who keep an open mind.

-Raffi

 

 

The thing I really liked about the message of the film is that I saw it on two levels. Reading a lot of the other things on the net, there are a lot of people with their panties in a twist over it being "too religious". My favorite was a post that stated in now way could religion start a massive war. Really? Where the hell have you been buddy?

 

I like the religious message. I liked that Eli was on a spiritual journey, following "The Voice". But on the other hand, I also took from it that there is importance in liturature, that books of all religions and classical types are not only important, but needed. It still blows my mind how many people underestimate the power of the writen word.

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I'm sure there are a lot of conservative types that are pissed off/annoyed that it was apparently the Bible that started the war and not the Qur'an. Which is funny because, that book preaches peace just as much as the Bible does, it's just the whack jobs on either side tend to have the loudest voices.

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I never really took it as the Bible was the start of the war, more organized religion of any kind. After seeing the film, I do like the wastland look and the baren landscape, but I also thought it would be pretty damn neat if it was in Eourpe. Both way have their pluses.

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Well, it is implied in the film, and a lot of the reactionary types just go with it rather than think about it.

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Finally watched this tonight and i thought it was great. the reviews here in the UK have been very negative mostly just because of the christian content which doesnt go over so well over here. but the directing, the acting and the score was great. The locations looked bleak and barren filled with beliveable characters making it the best post-apotaclyptic film ive seen in a long time.

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That type of reaction is just so silly. The film doesn't preach really in any way, and the bible is more or less a device, it could just as easily have been the Qur'an, or any other.

If there was all the build up and then the book turns out to be The Wizard Of Oz then the reviewers would be complaining that it should have been something more weighty . . . like the bible or something ;)

It's not a religious movie in any overt way, it's more about faith, or the importance of a message of peace, of remembering that this was once an organized society, that we needn't live in the muck and the blood of violence.

It's about giving hope back to the hopeless.

 

That's what it was to me anyway.

 

Seems to me that many reviewers are just so jaded by the very process of doing their job . . . seeing film after film after film, something gets lost when that repetition makes you a surface dweller.

Cause shit like that is really only seeing the surface and not transitioning deeper to the real meaning. That or they feel like they have to dissect a film for their audience who surely won't get it so they make it their responsibility to tell you what it's about from their lofty perspective. Something that is supposed to transport you becomes just another day at the office to these creeps.

 

There are reviewers who have the spirit, but most seem like frustrated wanna-be's.

 

- TB

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That type of reaction is just so silly. The film doesn't preach really in any way, and the bible is more or less a device, it could just as easily have been the Qur'an, or any other.

If there was all the build up and then the book turns out to be The Wizard Of Oz then the reviewers would be complaining that it should have been something more weighty . . . like the bible or something ;)

It's not a religious movie in any overt way, it's more about faith, or the importance of a message of peace, of remembering that this was once an organized society, that we needn't live in the muck and the blood of violence.

It's about giving hope back to the hopeless.

 

That's what it was to me anyway.

 

Seems to me that many reviewers are just so jaded by the very process of doing their job . . . seeing film after film after film, something gets lost when that repetition makes you a surface dweller.

Cause shit like that is really only seeing the surface and not transitioning deeper to the real meaning. That or they feel like they have to dissect a film for their audience who surely won't get it so they make it their responsibility to tell you what it's about from their lofty perspective. Something that is supposed to transport you becomes just another day at the office to these creeps.

 

There are reviewers who have the spirit, but most seem like frustrated wanna-be's.

 

- TB

 

AMEN TB! No one could have stuck to 'em better!

 

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Well said, TB. I'm actually quite pleased with how we did critically; I always kinda suspected that the film would polarize critics and it did indeed split them right down the middle but when the dust settled we had enough major critics (Ebert, Roeper, Rex Reed, NY Times, SF Chronicle, Hollywood Reporter, Time, Newsweek, NY Post, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and about 50 others) give us a thumbs-up that I can't complain. More importantly, audiences overwhelmingly responded to the movie - 80%+ positive by every metric we have, which is great, and I've received so many messages from people who were touched or inspired by the film in some way it's really blown me away. To create something and put it out into the world and know that it impacted people in some kind of meaningful way... that's what makes it all worth it and for me it has been by far the most rewarding part of this whole endeavor.

 

But as for the critics who bashed it... like I said I always knew the faith-based theme would repel many of them, but for the most part I think a lot of critics, especially the online blogger types, were honestly confused by the film because it unapologetically wears its heart on its sleeve. In an age where everything seems so defined by self-conscious irony and snark, anything that tries to be straightforwardly earnest and sincere is honestly like a foreign language to a lot of people. It's sad but true. And I find myself increasingly tuning that kind of cynical, self-satisfied reaction out - the internet is obviously a fantastic tool for the democritization of opinion, but it now requires so little thought or effort for habitual cynics and malcontents to sit back and bash the work of others that that increasingly prevalent brand of "criticism" (if you can even call it that) is becoming an increasingly devalued currency IMO. A fellow screenwriter said this to me the other day, actually in reference to some of the internet mockery of Avatar:

 

"I've reached the tipping point where I'm far more bored by internet cynics than I am by even the worst movie."

 

I could not agree more.

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Some people are just narrow minded into their own religion.....

 

At the end of the film, the bible was placed alongside the other holy books..... it can mean multiple things like there were others who "walked" and brought their faith along with them and so on.

 

It's more motivational or like Bradstreet said, a film of having faith.

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Haven't seen this film yet, and I haven't read all the comments here, so I don't know anything about it other than having seen the trailer for it. But I just had to say this. My sister has a prayer group (all women) that meets once a week at her son's school (private Christian school) and she told me that today at their meeting, there were several ladies who were raving about this movie. Not having seen the movie, I found that kind of interesting, and it's definitely piqued my interest to see it now. I'll have to see it and come back and add my thoughts on it.

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Guest AdminGuyX

OK, I FINALLY dug myself out of the ice and snow of the last week to go see this. I think it was somewhere along the second act of the film where I started thinking about what an absolutely PERFECT film this is for Denzel Washington on a personal level. I can imagine that he would champion the project. I have read that he's a very religious man, and I also know he loves making action flicks. He's always said as much in interviews. This was a blend of both.

 

IMHO the "message" of the film goes both ways. Oldman's character has some great dialogue about "It's happened before, it will happen again" in the context of using religion to gain power, wealth, and control over other people. I thought that was some very clever stuff, and it had a ring of honesty about it that worked well for the film. I really enjoyed the way Oldman hit those lines, and performed through that scene. That stood out to me just as strongly as Eli being a warrior prophet, if that was in fact what he was. There was certainly some inference that Eli's hands were guided by God, and that he was not actually doing the fighting himself. That the fighting was just a function of his "protection". Works for me either way.

 

All in all, I liked the action scenes the least. I liked them, sure, but the hypnotic visuals, the sparse and simple dialogue and the crazy good art direction and costume design stood out for me. I enjoyed the end, but the VERY end was a little silly IMHO. But it did make sense for her character. I just thought it was a little hammy. ;)

 

Also, I don't think Stephenson's character ever felt any sympathy for Eli. I think he just figured it out. I think he was the only one of the "bad guys" to see Eli for what he was, and upon that realization just lowered his gun, almost as a test to see if he was right.

 

I can see people with a limited cinematic palette crying "WESTERN" and feeling good about themselves. It's not "wrong" per se. Just not right either. I do like the samurai comparison, but at the end of the day the samurai flicks were just westerns from Japan. The film hit a lot of those notes. It also reminded me, a bit, of a book I read years ago called "Swan Song" by Robert McCammon, which I would LOVE to adapt to the screen.

 

Gary, hell of a first film. What a way to bust out of the gate and make an impression. I thought it was very cool that your name appeared second in the credits. That just has to be a huge rush.

 

OH, I nearly forgot, and how could I. i THOUGHT the Mannlicher rifle got an extra special composition for a reason. It looked familiar to me. A boy and his dog is one of the first movies I ever saw when I was a kid, and it has remained one of my favorites all these years.

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