Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The Road, and The Book of Eli

**Spolier Alert**

Two films, both alike in grime, In dystopian future, where we lay our scene.

I wanted to wait until I'd seen 'The Book of Eli' before commenting on 'The Road'. You may know that I'm a big LoveFilm fan and watched 'TBoE' yesterday. Both films have similar themes - post-Apocalyptic, striving to stay alive, the desire to reach 'somewhere', and having the protagonits die before the end. But that's about all they do have in common.

In 'The Road' (based on the book by Cormac McCarthy) Viggo does a fine job of not smothering his whining son (played by Kodi Smit-McPhee) whilst trying to get somewhere better, and not be eaten in the process. For me it was just an endless sprawl of 'woe is me', 'life is hard' moaning that was just far too depressing. Don't get me wrong, in the world of the film I think I'd whine and moan, but a film has to entertain, and I just don't think this did. At the end I asked myself what it was all about? What was the story? To be honest, I'm not sure it had one. Nothing was really achieved. Nothing was really resolved. And what was the family who wanted to help the boy at the end, all about? They'd been following them for ages but only wanted to say 'hi' once Viggo had shuffled off is mortal coil? Please. And they had a son, daughter and a dog? God bless stereotypes.

Acording to wikipedia (so it may not be accurate) it cost $25m to make and has so far grossed just over $26m. So that's a loss, then. The book may have been a Pulitzer prize winner (yawn) but it just shows that what high-brow literary types deem a cracking novel doesn't always make that story transferable to the big screen. It was 113 minutes of tortoise-slow drivel.

Now, on to something different.

'The Book of Eli' - directed by the Hughes brothers (Albert and Allen) and writen by Gary Whitta has Denzel Washington (everyone loves Denzel) 'heading west'. The world is just about as bleak as it is in 'The Road', but people aren't whining about it. There are still marauding bands of killers and cannibals (Frances De La Tour and Michael Gambon's couple are great - she reminded me of Julie Walter's Mrs Overall from Acorn Antiques) but the characters just get on with it.

Gary Oldman's small-town boss, Carnegie, wants 'the book' so that he can use the words within to control the masses. The book in question is a bible. After the 'war' - which was blamed on the book, or religion as a whole, supposedly all copies were destroyed. Denzel found one and wants to take it where it'll do good. It's just the same and 'The Road' in that it's a journey destination film, but it has a purpose. There's a story, a reason behind the action. It isn't just words - there's cause behind the actions of the characters. The supporting cast of Ray Stevenson (Pullo, from 'Rome'), Jennifer Beals and Mila Kunis. There's also a nice twist towards the end which works quite well. Although I'm not sure about the being blind thing...

Again, according to wikipedia, 'TBoE' cost $80m to make and has so far grossed $157m. What does that tell you? Sure, marketing etc plays its part, but word of mouth is crucial. You see a film and like it you recommend it to your friends, you don't like it you tell them to avoid it. 'TBoE' was 117 minutes of smart action, world-building, character clever, story telling.

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