Friday, January 29, 2010

A Vampire film review, two movie reviews, and a partridge in a pear tree.

I wrote a review for Park Chan-Wook's Thirst over at Metropol!

I should ask them if they're going to have an archive or if I should archive the reviews under a Metropol-branded blog...


Over the past couple of weeks, I saw two Judeo-Christian related Apocalypse films: The Book of Eli from the Hughes Brothers and Legion from Scott Stewart. Let's start with the first one of the two I saw, The Book of Eli.

The Book of Eli has a simple enough premise: a man is walking through post-Nuclear War America on his way West to deliver a book to a gentle, caring society who won't abuse it. Gary Oldman's Bad Guy is desperate to own the book because of its power over the soul. No shock here, the book is the Holy Bible (King James version.) It's so valuable to Gary Oldman's Bad Guy because every single copy was burned in the aftermath of the America-ending war. While that's an intriguing idea that was never truly explored to its fullest (the religious impact on war with Christianity being the religion at fault), it's also absolutely and completely implausible.

I have a great capacity to suspend my disbelief, but I live in America. There's no flippin' way every single copy of the Bible in America had been burned. And when would these Bibles be burned? I mean, if it was in reaction to the bomb, who'd actually care enough to burn books, especially the Bible during a time when the Believer's faith would be most tested and religion would come to the forefront? Personally, I'd be more concerned about continuing to survive if I'd survived the actual explosion. If the Bible-burning happened before the bomb that ended the world as we Americans knew it, then what the hell was the fight about? The film just doesn't make sense.

As for casting, I was mostly excited to see Denzel Washington kick some butt and be a bad ass anti-hero (yes, I knew it was about the Bible before I watched it, but one can hope), but the final twist on his character ruined the whole thing for me. Gary Oldman's character was interesting, but underdeveloped, and Jennifer Beals wasn't given much more to do than be the hot blind mother to Mila Kunis' really annoying character.

The reviews in the trailers don't lie, though. It's a visually stunning work. It's just too bad that it's wasted on a flick that doesn't rise to its own aspirations.

And now, the second flick: Legion from Scott Stewart. In this one, God's disgusted with humanity so on His Son's birthday, He sends His angels to wipe all of us out, including the as-yet unborn baby of an unwed mother living in the middle of the desert. Yeah. One angel refuses to follow orders, the Archangel Michael (played with nearly overwhelming gravitas by Paul Bettany), and he falls to earth and chops off his wings to free himself of God's Collar (I guess it was God's collar, but it didn't prevent him from Falling to earth) so he can steal lots of high powered weaponry and an LAPD police car and drive into the desert to protect the spoiled, whiny pregnant chick.


Okay, look, I'm all for interesting and exciting ways of looking at Judeo-Christian mythology. A Hammer Fell in Jerusalem: Anathema (and the novel I'm working on from which it comes!) with its take on the Grigori and the idea of warrior Priests that wield guns AND swords should be plenty enough proof of that. Legion really needed another pass or two in the writing stage. The dialogue is stilted and the action tends to start and stop abruptly so they can explain to the audience what's happening...far too much exposition especially considering how quickly the people in the diner adapt to the idea that God has sent Angels to destroy mankind, like it happens every day.

Also, they're angels. ANGELS. There isn't enough ammo in the world to kill all of the angels, especially not when Gabriel comes to do what Michael was supposed to, kill the child - humanity's last hope. That battle, Michael and Gabriel, is, well...ridiculous, but no more so than the rest of the movie.

For all of the crap in the film, there were some good ideas, the sorts of things one doesn't see too often even in genre pics: angels possessing humans, the violent side of angels. And I like the design of the angels with the shark teeth.

Look, just go rent The Prophesy, the one with Christopher Walken (as a far better Gabriel), Eric Stoltz, Viggo Mortensen (in one of my favourite portrayals of Satan), Virginia Madsen, and Elias Koteas. It's an excellent flick.


And, finally, .


Marvin the Martian said...

Maybe if all the Bibles were printed on photopyretic paper, or something. Poof! But keep it in a dark place, and it's fine. I heard bad things about Eli. ;-)

NoelCT said...

It's a shame both post-apocalyptic flicks fell flat. I knew from early reviews that LEGION was going to be blah, but ELI has gotten a surprising swing between those who love it and those who were disappointed.

I'm curious, what do you think would have been a better book? His own journal/gospel of events? The last missing volume of an encyclopedia set? "The French Chef" by Julia Child? :)

Lori said...

Marvin: was just too unbelievable a premise.

Noel: As cliched an answer as this probably is, I'd say that they shouldn't have named the book. Let it be whatever the audience believes in or even what they don't believe in. That would've made it more philosophically interesting. It would require a few changes in the script, but would've made it a little more believable in my mind.

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