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The Book of Eli (***)
      The Road (**)
directed by Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes
      directed by John Hillcoat
written by Gary Whitta
      written by Joe Penhall from the novel by Cormac McCarthy

The Book of Eli
Principal Cast
Denzel Washington -- Eli
Gary Oldman -- Carnegie
Mila Kunis -- Solara
Ray Stevenson -- Redridge
Jennifer Beals -- Claudia
The Road
Principal Cast
Viggo Mortensen -- Father
Kodi Smit-McPhee -- Boy
Robert Duvall -- Old Man
Guy Pearce -- Veteran
Molly Parker -- Friendly woman
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

In both The Book of Eli and The Road, a man walks the roads of a devastated future trying to preserve something precious, in one movie a Bible, in the other a child. The book, The Road, is a classic. The movie version makes many changes, all for the worse. The Book of Eli is more fun.

The Book of Eli is essentially an action-adventure movie. The acting is excellent, especially Gary Oldman. The Road, on the other hand, is an attempt at an art house flick, without the art. The book by Cormac McCarthy, which I loved, is unsentimental, vivid, and gripping. We don't need to be told that the Man loves the Boy. We see this in his actions. Screenwriter Joe Penhall, whose previous credits are mostly from television, does not trust us to sense this, but has the Man repeatedly tell the Boy how much he loves him, with lots of hugs and kisses. And the Boy constantly waxes sentimental about Goodness. Evidentially, Penhall felt the book was too bleak and needed some sugar to make the medicine go down. It ruins a great story. Take out the voice-over, take out most of the dialogue, take out the flashbacks, take out the earthquakes and falling trees, take out the cool bow and arrow that suggest excitement that isn't there, and you might have a good movie.

Both films tell staunchly conservative stories. Man stands alone against the universe, fighting for what he believes in. Religion is the only salvation. But the film writers are Hollywood liberals. Hell, I'm a liberal, too. But if you are going to tell a conservative story, tell it sincerely. Don't try to water it down with do-gooder treacle or last-minute political correctness. The Book of Eli is the better movie, partly because it has more action, but also because it is less watered-down. But, at the very end (I don't think I'm spoiling anything here) the Bible is placed on a shelf between a Torah and a Koran, apparently to make sure nobody is offended. There are many sins a writer can commit, but trying not to offend anyone may be the worst. If, as we are led to believe (and this may require a SPOILER WARNING),
spoiler warning
the God of the Bible keeps Eli alive throughout his journey, then that God is Jesus Christ, who says clearly "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one goes to the Father except through Me." If the Bible is the word of God, not just an old book, then it belongs on a shelf of its own.

Neither movie is in the least realistic.

In a time of disaster, people don't go wandering off alone, they huddle together for protection.

If civilization falls, almost everybody will become a farmer.

Anything that kills all the animals will kill all the people too. Conversely, to quote Tennyson's "Idylls of the King," "Wherein the beast was ever more and more. But man was less and less." Where man dies out, animals make a comeback.

If you want to see what life is really like after the fall of a civilization, watch The Seventh Seal.

Copyright © 2010 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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