The Book of Eli

Photo #5

Film (with rating): The Book of Eli (R)


Warner Home Video                                   


Summary: In
this post-apocalyptic action/adventure drama, a lone man on a divine mission
fights his way across America headed “west” in order to protect a
sacred book that holds the secrets to saving humankind.


Review: There
was nothing good out this week, so I decided to watch and review a slightly
older title, and I’m glad I did. “The Book of Eli” proved to be a
thought-provoking and enjoyable film. It is a bit hard to get into its rhythm
at first, partly because the post-war landscape is so drab and brown, and
partly because the actors mumble a lot. But hang in there–things pick up.
Denzel Washington is once again fantastic, this time as the title character


A few flaws: he mumbles (didn’t I mention that?) and he
seems a bit one-dimensional for too long into the movie. I don’t fault him as
an actor for this, but rather the Hughes brothers, who directed it.


The film centers on Eli as he treks west with his sacred
treasure: the last known Bible. He said he received divine guidance to deliver
this book safely. Where to? He’s not sure. But for the past 30 years since the
war ended the world as we all know it, Eli has been on this quest, walking and
searching. Along the way, he battled countless thugs, thieves and other
unsavory creatures with a fighting skill that sets Eli up there with ninjas and


Gary Oldman, who plays the town villain, does his role
justice, but he seems to be overacting throughout the movie, trying a bit too
hard to sell the evil gene. Mila Kunis, as the feisty stepdaughter of Oldman,
and Washington have great chemistry together, even if Kunis appears way too
beautiful and poised to be a post-apocalypse child.


All in all, “Eli” builds steam as it goes along,
and the ending is satisfying and thought-provoking. The film’s juxtaposition
between religion and war, violence and God, mercy and justice are also very
well played.


Extra highlight:
“Starting Over”


What to serve for dinner: Since the movie deals with cannibals, let’s skip
any meat-based dish and instead pay homage to a traditional “west”
meal: San Francisco-style Cioppino (Best of Sunset


1/4 cup olive oil or salad oil

1 large onion, chopped

    * 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1 large green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped

2/3 cup chopped parsley

1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce

1 can (28 ounces) tomatoes

1 cup dry red or white wine

1 bay leaf

    * 1
teaspoon dry basil

1/2 teaspoon dry oregano leaves

12 clams in shell, suitable for steaming, scrubbed

1 pound large shrimp, (30 per pound), shelled and deveined

2 live or cooked large Dungeness crab (about 2 pounds each), cleaned and


In 6-8 quart pan over medium heat, combine oil, onion,
garlic, bell pepper and parsley. Cook, stirring often, until onion is soft.
Stir in tomato sauce, tomatoes (break up with spoon) and their liquid, wine,
bay leaf, basil and oregano. Cover and simmer until slightly thickened, about
20 minutes.


To broth, add clams, shrimp, and crab. Cover and simmer
gently until clams pop open and shrimp turn pink, about 20 minutes. Ladle hot
broth and some of each shellfish into large bowls. Serve with warm sourdough


What to talk about over dinner: What would a post-apocalyptic world look like? How
would humanity survive? Would it? What would a world without books–or
literacy–look like? Could you ever dedicate your life so single-mindedly to a
pursuit? Have you? Who would have been better cast in the Solara role? What is
your favorite Denzel movie? What is your favorite end-of-the-world movie? How
do you think the war in “Eli” started and ended? What did you think
about the cannibals? How do you think Eli got those razor-sharp fighting
skills? What about the ending–your thoughts?