Of the seven films Warner Bros. showcased this morning in Hall H, the one that with the least enthusiastic reception was The Hughes Brothers’ “The Book of Eli” starring Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, and Mila Kunis. It’s not that it looks particularly bad, but the way they presented it wasn’t very strong. However, the Q&A was incredibly entertaining. I was sitting next to Aint It Cool News’ Mr. Beaks and he leaned over to me at one point and said, “I think they’ve been drinking.” Please keep in mind that this presentation began at about 10:45. In the morning.
Hit the jump to learn about what we saw and how entertaining (and potentially drunk) Oldman and Washington can be together.
The presentation got off to a bad start by leading with a motion-comic volume called “Billy”. Motion comics don’t really work. They look like crappy animation and it ain’t like they’re difficult to read. A much better strategy would have been to get attractive women to hand out the comic as a physical item (like the ladies yesterday did with the “Tron” coins) so as you had thousands of attendees sitting around waiting for the presentations to begin, they would inevitably get bored and read the comic. And here’s the thing: the story itself is really good. It’s done with almost no words and is about a young boy named Billy. Billy lives in a shithole of a house strewn with garbage. His obese mother decomposes in a recliner and gives the family money to an evangelical preacher (even though the “Holy Spirit” ain’t really grabbing her). When Billy goes up to his room to sneak a peek at a playboy, his drunken father comes upstairs and punches the shit out of his son as a close-up of a gold crucifix pendant swings from around his father’s neck. After this, Billy gathers up the envelopes intended for the ministry (his mother was apparently too lazy to go to the mailbox), throws the envelops in a garbage bin and sets them on fire. The fire then catches to a gasoline trail which leads to the house. As his parents burn inside, Billy Carnegie looks back and smiles. The image then transitions to Gary Oldman and so we’ve learned that this is the origin of the film’s villain and it’s a good one.
Then directors (and twin brothers) Albert and Allen Hughes come on stage to present the film’s trailer which would be great if they hadn’t already released it the previous day. As I said before, this was a totally bungled presentation. The trailer received applause most not at any particular scene but at the names of the actors (the applause for the motion comic was almost non-existent, but in a room of around 6,000 people, some folks are just going to be polite). When asked what it was like for Oldman and Denzel working together. “It was like good sex!” says Denzel. Oldman agrees! Laughs are had by all and I wonder if this panel may end up being more entertaining than the film it’s promoting.
And then the inevitable question from an audience member comes: when does Oldman expect to start shooting “Batman 3”? And then Oldman drops a bomb that sent every press person and probably every fan in the room scrambling to Twitter or their blog: “Batman 3” will commence shooting next summer. It totally eclipses the entire promotion of “Book of Eli” but as I said at the start, this was bungled from the start.
“The Book of Eli” hits theatres on January 15th, 2010.