Friday, January 22, 2010

Double Team'd: Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See

The Road

Release: 11.25.09
Rated R
1 hour, 52 minutes

See It, Take A Friend, Buy the DVD!

Two Thumb Nubs Up!
Following undisclosed apocalyptic events, a Man (Viggo Mortensen, Hidalgo) and his Boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) trek towards the coast across a dying world. The frigid weather and falling trees they encounter are as perilous as the bands of cannibals. All the while, the Man teaches the Boy how to survive; to tell the good from the bad, what is right from what is wrong and how important it is that he stay on the road.

To call The Road bleak is an understatement. Director John Hillcoat casts a pall of gray over the surroundings and emotions of the duo. In one scene, Man offers Boy the last dried insect from their food stores, and as I munched on my concessions I thought, "this is the most savory popcorn I've ever eaten!"

It's not a movie to walk into lightly. It examines the human condition in the worst of scenarios. Hillcoat does little to explain the significance of the details (a lack of thumbs on some characters, for example); the meaning must be inferred. It's frustrating, but equally satisfying. The Road provides viewers the opportunity to examine who they would be when faced with such dire circumstances.

Mortensen nails the wild-eyed, determination of Man as he fights physical and emotional hardships to protect his son and reach the coast. Though scarce, supporting performances by Charlize Theron (The Cider House Rules) and Robert Duvall (Open Range) are as moving and depressing as Mortensen.

Dirty Undies
Bloody imagery of cannibalistic practices are present, though no one ever gorges on flesh onscreen. The scariest flesh you'll see is Mortensen's grungy, emaciated ass as Man and Boy go for a cleansing dip. The callous acts of some characters are far more hurtful and disturbing than any of the violent scenes.

The Money Shot
Like the end of days, The Road is not for everyone. It took me weeks to get in the mindset to face the dismal story. Those audiences who do see it will never feel so fortunate as they will after leaving The Road - unless, of course, some post-apocalyptic event occurs during the screening.

The Book of Eli

Release: 01.15.10
Rated R
1 hour, 58 minutes

Second Run Seats

Sometimes a Heated Rush is Preferable to a Slow Hand.

The world as we know it ended thirty years prior, and since that time Eli (Denzel Washington, Fallen) has been headed west. If someone asks, he simply replies that he has someplace to be. Carnegie (Gary Oldman, Dracula) rules over a desert shantytown, sending minions to search for a book of great power. When Carnegie discovers the traveler Eli possesses the book, he uses all his resources to try and take it for himself.

After nine years out of the director's seat, the Hughes Brothers (From Hell) return with a movie that's overflowing with style, though substantially short on substance. A stark, washed-out landscape that stretches as far as the eye can see isn't the most exciting setting for watching a whole lot of nothing happen in slow motion. Being that it's Denzel walking in slow motion is the only reason it's even remotely interesting. Let's face it, the man's a cinematic rainmaker. Oldman is a great actor, though there's this odd sort of tenseness with his portrayal of the obsessed Carnegie.

Eli is a secretive, solitary man. His purpose, his past, and his book he keeps hidden. The only way we learn his name is from a name tag, which he also keeps hidden in his bag. The Book of Eli is the same way. The movie seems hellbent on not revealing the plot, and when all is revealed, (the nature of the book, Carnegie's motivations, etc.), it's anti-climatic. It's like torturing a man for days to discover his identity when you could have just checked his wallet at the start.

Dirty Undies
The Book of Eli isn't all slow-motion perambulation; there are five solid scenes of hard-hitting action...mostly in slow motion. The explosive, blood-gushing, head-lobbing action is thrilling, just sparse. Though the future is bleak, it's good to know no matter how grungy and filthy it gets, Mila Kunis (Max Payne) will still be hot enough that I'd want her to rub her stank all over me.

The Money Shot
The Book of Eli is a two-hour movie with a solid eighty-minute story. Well-acted performances and gritty action scenes make another ten minutes watchable. That still leaves a half-hour for audiences to wish the world would go ahead and end already.

Large Association of Movie Blogs


  1. I saw The Road and The Book of Eli as well. Writing reviews on them.

    Nice Review for The Road.

    Did you read The Road? Its bleaker.

    The Book of Eli is The Road-lite. Its all over the place. The part with him being blind was crao.

    BTW - I started a movie info website for movie website owners like you and me. Its presently called ProMovieBlogger. Check it out.

  2. Never read the Road. Heard it was depressing - hard to imagine anything bleaker.

    I didn't mind that he was blind, gotta have faith and all that. Although I wondered about a few earlier scenes where I could have sworn they showed him staring ppl down w/o his glasses.

    Thanks for the link. I'll check it out.

  3. You don't have to imagine. Just read the first 20 pages.

    Read the first 5-10 on Amazon for free.