Saturday, January 16, 2010

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Movie Reviewer

The Book of Eli posterHow do you like your post-apocalyptic fiction? Perhaps as a pint glass of nuclear winter, followed by a Mad Max chaser? I generally go for stories that spin social trends out over time, examining what happens when things fall apart and people try to put them back together. I'm partial to the written form, but am willing to watch movies that sound interesting.

I've only recently recovered from reading The Road, so I haven't seen that movie. I don't need to see 2012 -- despite the fact that it stars John Cusack -- because its premise is stupid. But I was considering seeing The Book of Eli with Denzel Washington until I ran across the reviews in this weekend's Star Tribune and Pioneer Press.

And now I'm completely confused.

The Strib's Colin Covert hated everything about it, and gave away some semi-spoilers, too, along with one-and-a-half stars. Some of his more memorable quotes: "a futuristic action catastrophe, seemingly collaged together from the lesser works of Vin Diesel" -- the fact that the eponymous book is a Bible "feels like a cynical ploy to bring stay-at-home Christian audiences into the heathen multiplex" -- and "This is a world where thugs lie in wait endlessly beside a deserted highway in the expectation that someone will wander their way." (That always bugs me, too!) And he points out that the movie's premise -- that the Bible, despite having more copies in print than any other book, would be down to a single copy -- is pretty silly.

The PiPress's Chris Hewitt, on the extreme other hand, gave it one of his best reviews, along with four out of four stars. "From the first moment of 'The Book of Eli' to the last, I was enthralled," he begins. It's "emotionally engaging," "bracingly original," and "dazzling" in the way that Pulp Fiction was.

Hewitt called the ending "hugely satisfying," while Covert said it had a "last-minute surprise ending so arbitrary and bizarre it caused a member of the preview audience to drop his head into his hands and groan out loud."

So now I don't know what to think, or if the film is worth seeing. This isn't the first time I've noticed a huge divergence between these two reviewers. If I remember correctly, Hewitt has a much higher tolerance and even interest in aestheticized violence than Covert, so that may explain much of the disconnect. Although Covert liked Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds much more than Hewitt did, so maybe not.

Whatever. I may have to see it for myself.

1 comment:

Ms Sparrow said...

Thanks for the review. Since I only read the Strib, I was pretty much persuaded not to bother seeing "Eli". Now that you gave another opinion, I'm curious to see for myself!

I agree that "2012" was preposterous, however I loved seeing the total destruction of LA! I hope to catch "The Road" but it's hardly playing anywhere. I guess I'll wait til it's out on DVD. (C'mon Red Box!)