I'm torn on the Book of Eli. I really admire it as a piece of post-apocalyptic cinema for its scope and production design, but as a piece of post-apocalyptic fiction it kind of makes me want to tear my hair out. It's not the ultimate end point of the story, either, it's the crux of the story; the titular book. What it is, the rarity of it, is more inexplicable to me than anything else in the story. I'm not a stickler for realism in my post-apoc stories - it's the freaking apocalypse, after all - but it just bugs me that the lore of his journey and how special he is is so...lazy.
It's intentionally obtuse to give the appearance of a twist, and there are plenty of audience members who are wow'ed by that, but it's just disappointing to see that there's so little energy put toward defining Eli, why he's special and why what he's carrying is special, until the end. It hardly ruins the movie for me, but it's what roadblocks it from becoming a great piece of sci-fi. I'll still settle for merely good, but it's just frustrating how a few alterations could have really changed things.
Willow, directed by Ron Howard, 1988
I have a confession to make. Willow deeply scared me as a child. If I remember correctly, I actually ran out of the room screaming. Can you guess what did it? No, not Val Kilmer in a dress. It's the trolls on the bridge at the end of the movie. I don't know what it was about them, but they're the reason I never shared the love for Willow many of my generation seem to have.
But that's okay because I feel like I haven't missed much. Sure, Madmartigan is a great character, but really he's all this movie has going for it. I hate to hate on Warwick Davis, but his wide-eyed delivery of every single line is just too much '80s cheer for me to take. I do love the double-headed monster at the end, though.
The Island, directed by Michael Bay, 2005
Ah, Michael Bay. You're so easy to make fun of, but that's why I'm such a fan. It's been said a thousand times, but nobody does Michael Bay like Michael Bay and there is no finer example of everything Bay loves than The Island. The entire movie looks like a Victoria's Secret commercial, every scientist and receptionist looks like a model and every explosion is bigger than the one just prior. The result is...not very good...
The Island is the rare case in Bay's career where Bay actually gets in his own way. The rest of his filmography is full of scripts that are silly and absurd and otherwise perfectly befitting of Bay's opulent style. However, The Island actually has a decent script. It has an interesting, though not entirely original, idea at its core, which isn't exactly something Bay knows how to handle all that well. But, hey, at least Scarlett Johansson looks great, right?