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The Book Of Eli: A review in five words. - Almost certainly not Johnny Depp.

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January 15th, 2010


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09:09 pm - The Book Of Eli: A review in five words.

Do not watch this movie.



Holy crap, this is a terrible movie. It spends the first 30 minutes pretending to be Fallout: The Motion Picture, with Denzel Washington as the Vault Dweller carrying the GECK.

And then it gets really, really, monumentally, incredibly stupid.

You see, the book Denzel Washington is carrying actually *is* a book, and its The Bible, King James Version - the *only* copy remaining in the world. Wait, how's that work? Well, it seems that after The Flash, there was a massive organised effort to eradicate all Bibles on the planet, and it succeeded in getting all except the one Eli has. Gary Oldman *wants* this Bible, because it has magic words that will make people obey him and he can't think of good enough words on his own. But with The Very Last Bible, he can become an emperor!

Did I mention that the world is "post-apocalyptic" in the sense of "no plants, ash everywhere, the very few survivors are eating each other and you will likely get murdered for a mouthful of water if you step outside a village, and the villages only exist around clean water supplies?" So, yeah: Gary Oldman, who has all the guns, all the loyal minions, and ALL THE WATER, needs the magic words hidden in The Last Bible in order to get real power.

That's not the stupid part.

No, seriously. I know: That's the dumbest thing you've ever heard, I understand. It IS monumentally, unbearably, incredibly stupid. It is weapons-grade stupid. It is Uwe Boll stupid. It is L Ron Hubbard and Joseph Smith stupid, combined into MegaStupidZord, the ultimate embodiment of stupid that The Stupids refuse to unleash in normal circumstances because they think it's too stupid and thus unfair to non-stupid people. And they think this because they're stupid.

And yet? In this movie, that is NOT the stupid part.

The stupid part is three-and-a-half-fold.

First: The Last Bible *really does* have magical power, that makes Denzel Washington into SuperMegaJesusTerminator. He is *literally* bulletproof and waving an improvised sword in one hand can chop off heads and limbs without his weapon even slowing down. And with a few words of preaching he can gain converts who gain Incredible Powers Of Coincidence In Their Favour. This lasts until he abandons his Divine Mission, at which point he becomes vulnerable again. Once he picks up the Divine Mission again, he's unstoppable, again.

Did I mention the Divine Mission?

Second: Denzel is on a Divine Mission. Voices in his head told him where The Last Bible was (which was true) and told him to carry it and that it would protect him (true) and where to take it: The magical Great Library Of Alcatraz run by Malcolm McDowell (that really exists, despite being on the far side of a post-apocalypse continent that he has no contact with.) So, in our post-apocalypse movie, God *literally* sent a messenger and *literally* protected him on his journey to a *literal* Promised Land, run by Malcolm McDowell.

Third: I've mentioned "post-apocalyptic" repeatedly, without telling you what the apocalypse was. This is, by the way, something the movie does: it doesn't detail The Apocalypse until late in the movie, and borrows extremely heavily from Fallout and Mad Max and similar to make you think the apocalypse was a nuclear war.

It wasn't.

On the day of "The Flash" (a name it's not given until late in the film), the skies opened up and the sun shone down, burning everything and killing anyone who didn't have shelter. Which, pointedly, did *not* result in anyone at all getting radiation poisoning or worrying about it later. Nobody's got geiger counters or checks their food for radiation. Oh, and *everyone* who knew what the Bible said was apparently killed in The Flash (because nobody just wrote it down again from memory, a trivial task for a great many people worldwide) and all the survivors banded together to destroy all the Bibles because Christianity "caused the Flash".

This is not a nuclear war.

This is the fucking Rapture, complete with paranoid delusional Christianist persecution jerkoff fantasies. It's a Pat Robertson wet dream, complete with sweaty fat guy jerking off on the moviegoer's face. All it was missing was the fact that Denzel Washington is black, which means he cannot possibly have any value in a *true* Rapture Enthusiast's reckoning.

For bonus points, The Great Library Of Malcolm McDowell had ABSOLUTELY NO PROBLEM getting the Torah, the Koran, the Bhagavad Vita, a copy of Dianetics, and a pile of other religious books, or science and history and literature books, because apparently none of THEM were considered remotely responsible for The Flash or subject to any of the purges. But no, God had to DIRECTLY AND PERSONALLY INTERVENE IN AN UNDENIABLY REAL WAY to get a single copy of His preferred version, the King James, into the hands of longhaired prophet-looking Malcolm McDowell.


The last half-point of unbelievable stupidity comes in The Big Reveal at the end, which I don't feel in the slightest bad about spoiling: The One True Bible is a BRAILLE edition, and Denzel Washington has been blind this whole time, so even though he gives the Magic Bible to Gary Oldman, Gary can't read it and so can't use the Magic Words to become emperor. In the mean time, Denzel continues and recites the whole thing from memory to Malcolm McDowell who tosses it into his printing press and starts churning out copies, saving the world from it's Bible-less evil. Why is this stupid? Well, because Denzel *is not blind* for 99% of the movie. He can read streetsigns. He can see the KFC label on handi-wipes. He can locate chairs and tables and bartenders and cats in a crowded and noisy bar. Oh, and he can see incoming attacks in a fight, perfectly, although that doesn't matter quite so much since God is *literally* protecting him and he takes multiple high-caliber bullet hits to unarmored locations without even bleeding because the bullets just bounce off his skin. Shown ON-CAMERA. He shoots handguns with perfect aim, at long range, against people who haven't made noise, hitting them with headshots while they, aiming down the sights of long rifles for 10 seconds in advance, miss. Point is, he *can see* everything in the film up until the very last second of the "oh, wait, he's blind, LOL" reveal. Which is either another incidence of Divine Intervention to protect the KJV or a pathetic appropriation of the problems faced by the blind, or both. I lean towards both, personally, and that really fucking offends me.

Oh, and? Braille is *huge*. A Braille Bible takes up an entire bookshelf, easily. There's no way that the single volume he's carrying could have more than a chapter or two - it's way too small and nowhere near thick enough.


The entire movie is about the Glorious Victory Of Stupidity And Inanity Over The Forces Of Sanity And Culture. It's what would have happened if Left Behind had had writers who took 10 seconds to think about the effects of their apocalypse on the world, and had had the money to hire real actors instead of being stuck with Kirk Cameron.

Do not see this movie. This is without any doubt at all the worst movie of 2010, and a strong contender for the worst movie of the 201X decade.


EDIT: Oh, and, for bonus points, Denzel Washington has a working first-gen iPod. Full of music. Leave aside the complete unbelievability of a 1.0 Apple product working beyond *1* year, let alone *30* - do you *know* how many digital copies of the Bible exist out there? And *not one person* had it?


EDIT2: I did a little more math about exactly how big a Braille Bible is. Short answer: Braille on the physical page size he was using should have been *more than 15 meters thick*. Standard-sized Braille paper would have been much larger, and still 6-8 meters for both Testaments.

EDIT3: negumi shows me that The Book Of Eli is actually a remake of ZARDOZ.

(233 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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[User Picture]
From:coyotegoth
Date:January 16th, 2010 02:19 am (UTC)
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I'm confused: is McDowell taking Washington's dictation? Are there secretaries? Geez Louise, how long would it *take* to read the Bible aloud?
[User Picture]
From:theweaselking
Date:January 16th, 2010 02:22 am (UTC)
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A montage-worth.

It's the post-climax denouement. They can do that.
[User Picture]
From:aor
Date:January 16th, 2010 02:30 am (UTC)
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Man, wtf. This looked like a cool movie, and it turns out to be a disguised Rapture fantasy? Assholes.
[User Picture]
From:theweaselking
Date:January 16th, 2010 02:34 am (UTC)
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That's basically why I went to see it: It really did look like a Fallout movie, complete with Eli carrying the GECK, or, barring that, carrying a Lucifer's Hammer-esque printed copy of HowStuffWorks.com.
[User Picture]
From:goblinpaladin
Date:January 16th, 2010 02:35 am (UTC)
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D:

I think I might cry. I honestly thought this was going to be Fallout: The Movie. Or, you know, something like.
[User Picture]
From:bunnybutt
Date:January 16th, 2010 02:41 am (UTC)
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ok, happy not to ever see this film.

OTOH, I *do* have a 1st gen working ipod, so miracles clearly happen.
[User Picture]
From:theweaselking
Date:January 16th, 2010 02:44 am (UTC)
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And you haven't had to replace the battery?

IT IS A MIRACLE!

(Seriously, Apple batteries are legendarily bad.)
(Deleted comment)
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From:heldc
Date:January 16th, 2010 02:54 am (UTC)
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I had a suspicion that's what it was going to be, what with Book in the title and all. I am sad it turns out I am right however. The trailer looked so good!
(Deleted comment)
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From:terheyt
Date:January 16th, 2010 03:20 am (UTC)

One mild issue with your critique...

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The only Rapture-believers I've ever met in person were a black couple, who obviously believed they'd be around afterward. Maybe it's THEIR fantasy, instead of Robertson's.
[User Picture]
From:theweaselking
Date:January 16th, 2010 04:38 am (UTC)

Re: One mild issue with your critique...

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If you believe you're going to be around past-Rapture, you believe you're not a Real True Christian.

All Real True Christians will be Raptured.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:anivair
Date:January 16th, 2010 03:52 am (UTC)
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I'm sad. I was really hoping that the Bible was a Red Herring, but as it turns out, this is exactly as dumb as I feared and I'll not be seeing it ever. Also, i imagine I'll be linking this around.
[User Picture]
From:ladyfox7oaks
Date:January 16th, 2010 04:09 am (UTC)
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Thank you for the heads up. I'll be linking this as well. (shudder!) Sounds like somebody filmed the "Left Behind" series and changed a few names for copyright....
[User Picture]
From:jamoche
Date:January 19th, 2010 07:43 pm (UTC)
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Except that in Left Behind the world picks up after all the people disappear with barely a bump. (no, I haven't read it but I follow slactivist's Left Behind Friday sporking faithfully)
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From:ambug666
Date:January 16th, 2010 05:01 am (UTC)
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On the other hand, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is well worth seeing, even with its religious overtones. Just don't try to explain to the teenaged theater employee what it's about afterwards.

"OK, so since it's directed by Terry Gilliam, it's kind of strange."
"Who?"
"He directed Brazil... Time Bandits... Baron Munchausen... The Brothers Grimm... OK, well, um, he was the animator for Monty Python."
"Monty Python? I think I've heard of him."
Sigh.
[User Picture]
From:evcelt
Date:January 16th, 2010 07:12 pm (UTC)
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At least Imaginarium's religious overtones were more generic hippy-dippy new age Eastern inflected stuff. Even with the Devil... in some ways it was more Gnostic than anything else.

Re your conversation: "Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings?"
(Deleted comment)
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From:dglenn
Date:January 16th, 2010 05:07 am (UTC)
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How large is a Braille Bible? Almost every Bible I've seen (with both Old and New Testaments included, as opposed to a just-the-Gospels version) has been printed on thinner-than-usual paper (or even extremely thin paper) to make it all fit in a reasonable binding. Every Braille book I've seen has had oversized pages of really thick, stiff paper just shy of being cardstock, so as to, y'know, actually hold the shapes of the bumps long enough to be read. So when I hear 'Braille' and 'Bible' together, the mental image that conjures for me is a few largish volumes.

But I've never seen a Braille Bible, and really only a few Braille books and magazines at all, so maybe there are ways to make 'em smaller, at least a bit?
[User Picture]
From:theweaselking
Date:January 16th, 2010 05:15 am (UTC)
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One of my clients is a Braille printer.

I seriously doubt a copy of the Bible, even just The New Testament, could fit into the 4+cm version seen in The Book Of Eli.

But that's not important. This is a STUPID MOVIE, predicated on the belief that YOU ARE STUPID and that you will not question anything in any way. If they thought you might question any of it, it wouldn't be based on THE RAPTURE, which is pathetic and stupid even if you're the kind of idiot who thinks the Bible might contain any facts. Anyone capable of any critical thinking, in the slightest, knows in advance that the plot of this movie is absolutely, without any doubt, completely impossible.

As soon as you start bringing "facts" into the matter, you are too smart for The Book Of Eli. As a matter of fact, you are probably EDUCATED STUPID by ACADEMIC BASTARDS and totally deserving of MACHETE DEATH for the terrible crime of having applied "thought" to God's work.
[User Picture]
From:flewellyn
Date:January 16th, 2010 06:12 am (UTC)
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I didn't think it sounded very good, but wow. That is a massive amount of fail.

[User Picture]
From:unnamed525
Date:January 16th, 2010 07:52 am (UTC)
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... I still fail to see why it isn't awesome. I mean, if you're going to go fantasy, why not go the whole route?
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From:eris_esoteric
Date:January 16th, 2010 09:26 pm (UTC)
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LOL!
(Deleted comment)
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From:andrewducker
Date:January 16th, 2010 08:41 am (UTC)
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The Book Of Eli: Marginally less stupid than Left Behind!
[User Picture]
From:the_trav
Date:January 16th, 2010 09:46 am (UTC)
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your rage is delicious... and hilarious ;)

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