I was hoping to have an "apocalypse weekend" at the cinema, but annoyingly our local Cineworld wasn't showing The Road - hopefully it will be sometime soon - so it was just one dose of apocalypse for us at the cinema this past weekend. I wasn't expecting an awful lot, and went into it with mild interest - indeed the trailer makes it look like a dumb actioner.
Fortunately I was pleasantly surprised. It's not a dumb actioner. Sure it has some action in it, some quite good action too, and one set piece that's sparse but immensely stylish, but it's much more thoughtful.
No surprises though that the titular book is The Holy Bible, but mercifully there isn't any bible bashing (of either kind). The film performs a straight forward balancing act between the good and bad sides of religion through, you guessed it, a good guy and a bad guy.
The thoughtful nature of the film however is in its construction. The ruminations on the Bible are there, but it's more a case of the feel of the film as a whole. At times we don't see the visual payoff we might expect - we know something is going to happen, and that's good enough - indeed, it makes it better. The post-apocalyptic world feels functional (replete with a simple, but informative look at the bartering process) and fleshed out, even though it's treated merely as the setting and not the subject.
Many of the elements in the film could have been expanded upon (and some sequences could have been trimmed for pacing), but you rarely feel short changed. You're left wanting more in a good way.
This flick is also stylish. Really stylish. Not in the MTV way of 'style', but in a more thoughtful way (hooking back to the thoughtfulness again). It feels considered and dramatic, with the right amount of sensation thrown into the mix.
It's a hard flick to sum up, but needless to say it's not the actioner that the trailer leads you to believe. Indeed I would wager that in most screenings there will have been people who either walk out disappointed, or are frequently in-and-out to go for a piss after they've spent the first half guzzling eighteen litres of Coke. This was the case at our screening, which was a mid-afternoon showing. It was far from sparsely populated, but there were people in and out like a fucking Yo-Yo. It did amuse me to see a teenager - decked out in expensive trainers, football shirt, low slung trousers, and a baseball cap - wearing a gaudy crucifix around his neck. Considering the content of the film, it seemed like an odd juxtaposition, but strangely related.
So far it's been a surprising start to the year for me at the cinema - first with the rather enjoyable Sherlock Holmes that I wasn't sold on until the final trailer - and now with The Book of Eli, which is far better than its paint-by-numbers stock trailer suggests.
Now come on Cineworld, show The Road.