The Book of Eli
Director: The Hughes Brothers, Sony Pictures, Rated MA, 117 mins
It has been nine years since the Hughes Brothers made their last major feature, a murder mystery with the strange title of From Hell.
They have reunited for their intriguing direction of a post-apocalyptic action thriller that is infused with religious undertones – The Book of Eli.
The opening scenes reveal a desolated wasteland following a nuclear war (similar to The Road) and a lone traveler by the name of Eli (played quite convincingly by Academy Award winner Denzel Washington from American Gangster).
Eli is heading to the West Coast of America, carrying a back-pack that contains his prized possession - a Bible.
Along the way he encounters assailants but quickly disposes of them through a combination of quick-action skills that include martial arts, a long knife and a bow.
On entering a ramshackle town to get refreshments, Eli meets up with the person in charge - Carnegie (Gary Oldman, The Dark Knight) who is impressed with Eli's unbelievable fighting skills and his ability to read which prompt him to offer Eli a job.
Dismissing the offer, Eli rejects Carnegie’s hospitality and leaves, accompanied by Solara (Mila Kunis) the daughter of Carnegie’s mistress.
Eli soon finds himself being pursued by Carnegie and his gang after they learn he has the Bible Carnegie so desperately wants to help him strengthen his position and expand his power base.
It is during the course of the pursuit that Eli teaches Solara some of his skills (which she later displays) including the importance of the Bible, religion and why it is important that he takes the Bible to its final destination.
One of the major highlights of this intriguing movie is the slick but stylistic and well-edited action sequences.
There are also some interesting scenes with the way the camera goes through buildings and follows the action, demonstrating the Hughes Brothers’ unique style as action directors. In some respects they are better then Michael Bay (director of the Transformer movies) who throws everything at the camera.
Even though the story is not that original with elements reminiscent of the Mad Max movies and The Road, there are interesting concepts such as the use of religion as political ideology and political control.
Given some fine tuning this movie could have had a better script but it is still an appealing movie with credible performances from Washington, Oldman and Kunis.
This is one worth looking at.
VIC'S VERDICT: 3 ½ Rubber Stamps
Did You Hear About the Morgans
Release date: 8 May
Director: Marc Lawrence, Columbia Pictures, Rated M, 103 mins
Sony’s soon to be released DVD, Did You Hear About the Morgans, is a romantic comedy from the writer-director of Music and Lyrics.
It stars the king of romantic comedies, Hugh Grant (who also featured in Music and Lyrics) and Sex and the City actress Sarah Jessica Parker as Mr and Mrs Morgan.
The Morgans’s relationship is on the rocks due to their busy lives in New York which allow little time for romance.
This is abruptly changed when they witness a murder and are whisked off by the FBI to a small rural village in Wyoming under a witness protection program.
Now they are alone in the middle of nowhere, romance appears to blossom again for the wayward couple.
As a romantic comedy Did You Hear About the Morgans has its moments of hilarity but is especially appealing because of the performances of the lead actors and the neurotic antics of the affable Hugh Grant.
Even with a weak plot Lawrence has managed to make an entertaining movie which is made more appealing through the DVD which contains an enjoyable audio commentary and an interesting array of bonus features.
Location, Location, Location! is an insight into the making-of the feature movie where Lawrence reveals his inspiration for filming in the town of Roy, New Mexico. It includes cast and crew discussing their experiences in the southwestern town.
A Bear of a Scene is a behind the scenes look at Hugh Grant's character’s close encounter with a bear and deleted scenes and a series of amusing outtakes are also included and show the slip-ups made by the four leading actors.
VIC'S VERDICT: 3 Rubber Stamps
Release date: 8 May
Director: Rueben Fleischer, Columbia Pictures, Rated MA, 88 mins
Another soon to be released DVD is Sony’s Zombieland which is directed by Rueben Fleischer and is a horror comedy.
The film focuses on two men, a woman and her younger sister who have found ways to survive a world overrun by zombies.
The movie begins with a rundown of what has occurred, narrated by Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg). In the rundown, Columbus includes his set of rules for surviving Zombieland as well as his meeting on the road with the gun-toting Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson).
Eisenberg and Harrelson have great chemistry together and the two characters play off each other quite well.
They then join forces with Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) and soon realise that they have to rely on each other or succumb to the flesh-eating zombies.
Fleischer’s take on this comedy zombie genre, though not scary, is funny and gory with some of the zombie scenes being quite unpalatable.
Besides some reasonable performances from Eisenberg, Stone and Breslin including a cameo appearance from Ghostbusters starBill Murray, it is clear the character of Tallahassee was a perfect role for Woody Harrelson.
In addition the DVD includes an audio commentary with Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Ruben Fleischer as well as a couple of interesting featurettes such as:
In Search for Zombieland which covers the making of the movie, Columbus’s set of rules and interviews with the cast and crew; Zombieland Is Your Land which is a decent look at the production design of the movie; and deleted scenes and a silent visual effects section, highlighting a number of the movie’s set pieces showing live action and CG integration.
VIC'S VERDICT: 3 Rubber Stamps
To find out more about Victor Rebikoff click here.