The Book of Eli appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Virtually no concerns arose during this outstanding presentation.
At all times, sharpness remained excellent. I felt the film always looked crisp and detailed, without a hint of softness on display. This meant no signs of jagged edges or moiré effects, and the transfer also lacked edge haloes. Source flaws failed to appear as well; the movie appeared clean and fresh.
Maybe someday a post-apocalyptic film will boast a bright, lively palette, but Eli went with the usual super-colorless palette. The film usually used a dusty, arid sensibility, and it failed to deliver much out of that spectrum. Within those severe restrictions, the tones looked fine. Blacks appeared dark and deep, while shadows seemed clear and well-developed. I felt thoroughly impressed by this terrific transfer.
I also thought the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack worked well. As expected, the movie’s action scenes boasted the most engaging sequences. Those contributed good involvement and punch, as the various elements filled out the room in a satisfying manner. Music always boasted nice stereo presence, and quieter scenes offered a solid sense of atmosphere as well.
Audio quality seemed satisfying. Music was vibrant and full, and speech appeared crisp and concise. Effects provided clear, accurate elements with fine bass response. The movie gave us a perfectly solid soundtrack.
Book came with a fairly broad array of extras. An occasional staple of Warner Bros. Blu-rays, Maximum Movie Mode contributes an interactive component. These show picture-in-picture interviews as well as storyboards, 3D previz and concept art. The PiP bits include comments from directors Albert and Allen Hughes, first AD JP Wetzel, VFX supervisor Jon Farhat, producers Broderick Johnson, David Valdes, Andrew A. Cosove and Joel Silver, screenwriter Gary Whitta, director of photography Don Burgess, concept artist Tommy Lee Edwards, set designer John Chichester, production designer Gae Buckley, prop master David Gulick, and actors Denzel Washington, Jennifer Beals, Mila Kunis, and Malcolm McDowell. These cover the film’s sets and locations, visual design and cinematography, visual effects, cast and performances, story and characters, and the movie’s themes.
Warner’s “Maximum Movie Modes” can be excellent, but this is one of the lesser entries. The content itself seems fine, but we just don’t get much of it. Large expanses of film pass without any information, so it becomes frustrating to sit through a nearly two-hour flick for only dollops of details. If you’re very patient, “MMM” is worth a look, but it’s not especially satisfying.
We can check out the 10 Focus Points on their own or as branches of “Maximum Movie Mode”. We find “The Look of Eli” (3:32), “Underpass Fight” (3:11), “Building Carnegie’s Town” (3:16), “The Motorcycle Brigade” (2:59), “Eli Goes to Battle” (3:29), “Eli’s Mission” (1:54), “Shootout at George and Martha’s” (3:53), “Eli’s Weapon of Choice” (2:15), “Solara Causes Mayhem” (6:24), and “Apocalyptic San Francisco” (3:28). Across these, we hear from Allen and Albert Hughes, Valdes, Edwards, Silver, Buckley, Johnson, Farhat, Washington, Whitta, Kosove, Gulick, Wetzel, storyboard artist Chris Weston, martial arts trainer Dan Inosanto, set designer Derrick Clyburn-Ballard, special effects supervisor Yves De Bono, stunt coordinator Jeff Imada, script supervisor Pam Fuller, and actors Gary Oldman, Frances de la Tour, Michael Gambon and Evan Jones.
The “Points” look at visual design and storyboards, stunts and action sequences, visual effects, building some sets, weapons and props. These offer concise coverage of the material. Because they tend to follow the movie’s storyline, they aren’t as disjointed as they could be, and they provide worthwhile information about the shoot.
For some backstory about the Carnegie character, we go to the five-minute Lost Tale: Billy. This shows us aspects of Carnegie’s childhood before the war. The parts that give hints about what led to the big conflagration are interesting, but the info about Carnegie’s white trash youth are less compelling. The short is moderately fun but not especially memorable.
Two featurettes appear under Behind the Story. We get “Starting Over” (13:03) and “Eli’s Journey” (17:54). These include notes from Allen and Albert Hughes, Johnson, Beals, Whitta, Washington, Kunis, Kosove, Farhat, Edwards, Weston, Clyburn-Ballard, Silver, Imada, Oldman, Beals, California Lutheran University Assistant Professor of Religion Dr. Sam Thomas, CSULA School of Social Work Professor Dr. Susan Crimmins, USC Professor of Political Science Richard H. Dekmejian, USC Associate Professor of Social Work Helen Land, and USC International Relations and Political Science Professor of Law Edwin M. Smith. “Starting” discusses what the world would be like after an apocalypse, while “Journey” examines the film’s visual take on its subject, characters and performances, and the flick’s message/themes.
Neither program proves to be especially valuable. Though “Over” has the potential to provide a good examination of what a destroyed world would be like, it tends to simply act as basic promotion for the movie, as all the theories neatly coincide with areas depicted in Book. As for “Journey”, it mostly just regurgitates basic movie info we’ve already heard elsewhere. Neither show flops, but neither becomes particularly compelling.
Four Deleted/Alternate Scenes run a total of one minute, 53 seconds. The only one of any significance shows a coda for Carnegie. Others are pretty forgettable and short.
Finally, The Book of Eli Soundtrack lasts four minutes, 59 seconds and features Allen Hughes and composer Atticus Ross. They discuss the film’s score in this moderately interesting piece. It feels a bit superficial and promotional, but a few good tidbits emerge.
An ad for Lottery Ticket opens the disc. No trailer for Book pop up here.
A second disc offers two elements. For one, it provides a standard DVD version of the film. Note that this doesn’t simply duplicate the DVD you can buy on its own; it’s a more barebones affair. However, it allows fans without Blu-ray capabilities a way to watch the movie until they do take the Blu plunge.
The second platter also includes a digital copy of Book. This allows you to slap the flick on a computer or portable gizmo.
At its best, The Book of Eli gives us an exciting, compelling action-oriented western. Unfortunately, it only occasionally reaches these heights, and too much of it falters with dull characters and extended exposition. The Blu-ray boasts excellent visuals, strong audio, and an erratic but generally good set of supplements. While I find the movie to disappoint, I like enough of it to offer a rental recommendation. It should’ve been better, but it still has some positive qualities.