Now, I'm a fan of the genre. The Road Warrior, Escape From New York, The Omega Man, and The Blood of Heroes (or Salute of the Jugger in the UK...either way it's an incredibly underrated film). All genre flicks dealing with some kind of apocalypse, whether it be zombies or war or crime. Whatever. The exact nature of the apocalypse doesn't really matter. It's all about the struggle for survival. So with that in mind, I was pretty excited to see both flicks. Not "go see them in the theater" excited, but excited nonetheless.
The Road did a lot of things right. The viewer isn't told what happened before. About what happened to the planet or the nation or whatever. There are glimpses in the form of flashbacks, but those have more to do with setting the tone and explaining the single-minded nature of the protagonist of the film. No names are used. The man is credited as "Man", his son is credited as "Boy". No names are needed. Whatever happened to the planet has done away with such niceties.
It's a bleak and disheartening portrayal of the descent of mankind into the most basic animal from which we came. Yet it's also filled with hope. It's all that these characters can cling to. The man is doing everything that he can possibly do to survive. To help his son survive. They need to keep moving. Maybe there is life further south, further east, further. And even with that hope...it's depressing as all hell. It's interesting and well-done, but it's really just numbingly depressing.
The Book of Eli was a much more polished Hollywood-type production. Bigger stars, bigger budget and much bigger action sequences. In this film, we are told what happened to the world. It was war and it was complete destruction. "The Flash" burned a whole in the atmosphere and left humanity at the mercy of the Sun. We are led to believe that it was a religious war, and the film itself is loaded with religious references, as you could probably tell from the title. It's religion that helped wipe us out, it will be religion that will help us rebuild. I'm not sure I liked that theme, but if you buy the premise yadda yadda yadda.
Denzel's Eli is a compelling central figure. A lone warrior (with a bad-ass sword/machete) following the word of God westward to a place where he can share his faith with those who deserve it. Gary Oldman is your stereotypical post-apocalyptic warlord with a few intellectual flourishes. In a lot of ways, The Book of Eli felt more like an old Western than a post-apoc flick. Especially once Oldman's character and frontier town entered the picture. At that point, the whole film turned into a bit of a derivative mess. An enjoyable one, but still a derivative mess.
So I have a hard time picking which film I enjoyed more. I thought about The Road for much longer after it was over than The Book of Eli, but it was just so bleak, so disturbing that it lessened my enjoyment while actually watching it. And The Book of Eli was almost fun in comparison, in a bleak and disturbing kinda way. Does that make any sense?
Let's say that The Road had a better story and may have been a better film, but The Book of Eli offered a more enjoyable viewing experience. Deal?
___________________________________________________Note: Remember to play the Badgerdaddy Trivia Challenge every day. What's the plural of apocalypse? Apocalypsi?