The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Warner - 2010
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 118 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English/French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, Jennifer Beal, Ray Stevenson, Michael Gambon, Francis De La Tour
Directed by: Albert & Allen Hughes
Music by: Atticus Ross
Written by: Gary Whitta
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: June 15, 2010
"Some will kill to have it. He will kill to protect it"
Eli walks alone in post-apocalyptic America. He heads west along the Highway of Death on a mission he doesn't fully understand but knows he must complete. In his backpack is the last copy of a book that could become the wellspring of a revived society or in the wrong hands, the hammer of a despot. Denzel Washington is Eli, who keeps his blade sharp and his survival instincts sharper as his quest thrusts him into a savage wastelandand into explosive conflict with a resourceful warlord (Gary Oldman) set on possessing the book.
We walk by faith, not by sight. The Book of Eli is a sort of multi-genre film that takes place thirty years after an apocalyptic event has devastated the planet. Civilization has been obliterated along with humanity. Those that remain survive by preying on others or serve at the whim of moguls who offer protection for subservience. There are few remaining that lived or remember life prior to the apocalypse. Many of the world's books were destroyed afterward and the majority of the current populace can't read. Eli (Washington) is a walker who travels alone by foot with only his backpack and what appears to be an empty sawed off shotgun. At first glance he would seem to be a middle aged loner that would be an easy mark for opportunists. This assumption has cost many their lives. Eli carries with him a book which he has read from every day for the last thirty years. To most it would be of little value but Eli seeks to take it west to those who understand and respect its contents. Carnegie (Oldman) has been searching for the book for years and sees it as a means to exercise control over the fragile people/society that he considers ripe for the taking. Their paths converge when Eli comes to the small town run by Carnegie. When his attempt to bribe Eli by offering the company of a young woman named Solara (Kunis) fails, Carnegie resorts to using force via his throng of heavily armed minions. What he doesn't realize is that Eli is no ordinary walker. He is a man driven by faith and possessing an indomitable belief that nothing will prevent him from fulfilling his mission. The fact that he is also an efficient killing machine doesn't hurt either
I had heard good things about this film but never got around to catching it during its theatrical run. This post apocalyptic story has a sort of Road Warrior/Western/Graphic novel feel with a helping of morality sprinkled on top. It works and I like the implementation as it offers a good blend of action, drama and thrills. The story and characters are developed pretty well and at nearly two hours in length I thought it was perfectly paced. The cinematography, visual style and effects sequences properly set the tone of the film while adding to its appeal. Denzel Washington is typically credible in the lead role and capably pulls off the action set pieces. It is always good to see Gary Oldman playing the heavy and Mila Kunis does more than just supply eye candy in the role of Solara. The story is a bit preachy and the ending doesn't quite live up to the first two acts but the overall result is an entertaining and discussion provoking film that is definitely worth seeing.
The rating is for brutal violence and language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The Book of Eli comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner featuring 1080p VC-1 encoded video that has an average bitrate of 18 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.5 Mbps.
This film utilizes a stylized visual design that features a de-saturated color scheme (50 to 70 %) that works aesthetically well for the subject matter. The visible color range is limited to shades of dark blue, gray and black with splashes of crimson red and muted sepia tones. Warm golden accents are used to break up the film's monochromatic essence. Uneven light and shading are prevalent. Contrast is spot on which empowers whites and grays with washing away detail. Whites are snappy and crisp and grays are multi-staged and layered. The use of green screens softens some of the background elements during wide angle pans but I never found it to be excessive or distracting. Overall I found the quality of the video to be high. Every scene isn't always razor sharp but it is pristinely rendered with plenty of subtle refinement that increases the perception of fine detail and depth/dimension. A great example occurs during chapter 17 where there is a low wide angle shot of George and Martha's house (around the 1:13:30 mark) taken from behind as Eli and Solara approach. This shot looks amazing and has a near infinite sense of depth as everything within the frame appears in focus with clearly articulated textural nuance that brings out the subtle differences in shapes of stones, and the rough surface of the clapboarding on the old house. Blacks are dynamic and gradational and detail in shadowy areas is discernible but not as revealing as I would have liked. I find the film's deep grays, rich contrast and intriguing use of color enamoring. Grain is visible but never obtrusive and I saw no signs of video degrading artifacts or compression related noise.
I have been impressed with the DTS-HD MA soundtracks from Warner's big ticket action films and The Book of Eli is no different. This is a very involving surround mix that delivers an enriching home theater experience. Integration of the front and rear soundstages is seamless as discretely placed sounds follow a deliberate and realistic path as dictated by the events onscreen. This is an active sound design that incorporates a vast number of sound effects that are intricately mixed to engage the listening position. Bass is robust and can sometimes be substantive in depth but never rises inappropriately in prominence within the soundfield. The delicate blend of Atticus Ross' music, discrete/spatial ambience, crystalline dialogue and invigorating dynamics is supremely enriching as it weaves an aurally stimulating pattern across the surround platform. I found this to be a superb audio/video presentation that enhances the enjoyment of this film.
- Maximum Movie Mode: An in-depth look at the film/production and an interactive viewer that includes PiP, Storyboards, concept art, cast/crew interviews and more. It is far from your everyday run of the mill BonusView track and is broken down into 10 Focus points segments that can also be viewed independently.
- (HD) Focus Points: (35 minutes)
- The look of Eli
- Building Carnegie's town
- The motorcycle brigade
- Eli goes to battle
- Eli's mission
- Shootout at George and Martha's
- Eli's weapon choice
- Solara causes mayhem
- Apocalyptic San Francisco
- (HD) A lost tale: Billy - Animated short
- (HD) Behind the story:
- Starting over - 13 minute featurette
- Eli's journey - 18 minute featurette
- (HD) 3 Deleted/Alternate scenes
- (HD) The Book of Eli soundtrack - 5 minute featurette
- WB BD-Live enabled
- Bonus Disc: Digital Copy/DVD version of The Book of Eli
The Book of Eli represents another entry in the recent wave of post apocalyptic films that I have seen. It has the look and feel of a graphic novel and features a good blend of action, drama and thrills built around a strong lead character and a morally suggestive story that in my opinion never rises to an overt level. Kudos to Warner on this Blu-ray Disc presentation as I appreciated its stylized, high quality video and superlative DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound. The inclusion of a comprehensive and fan friendly set of interactive Blu-ray Disc bonus features enhances the enjoyment of an already strong offering that comes highly recommended. Enjoy!
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