‘Babylon A.D.’ Raw and Uncut Blu-ray Review
When you have the director of a film severing ties and disowning the project upon its theatrical release that spells trouble. Director Mathieu Kassovitz decided that the week of the worldwide release of ‘Babylon A.D.’ that he would just disown the film that he spent long hours directing. Upon this news breaking, it causes all kinds of negativity to those that were planning to go spend their hard earned dollar at the theater on a possible bomb. The film did have a successful worldwide release with a $69 million dollars total gross based off of a $45 million dollar budget.
Kassovitz spent five years planning and piecing together ‘Babylon A.D.’, only for the studio to stick their hands into the mix. Sometimes studio involvement can cause a film to become an utter train wreck. There was the interjection of action pieces that upon viewing of the film look out of place in certain scenes. Then there was a change to the script which ended up making the film even more confusing. Instead of following the story of the book, ‘Babylon Babies’, the studio infused its own ideas into the film taking it into their own direction. How does the film fair at the end of the day with all the changes?
The story of Babylon A.D. revolves around a mercenary by the name of Toorop (Vin Diesel) in post apocalyptic Russia. He gets hired by a notorious mobster, Gorsky (Gérard Depardieu) to kidnap a girl by the name of Aurora (Mélanie Thierry). Gorsky wants the girl brought to America because she has special powers that could get into the wrong hands. There is one problem with Toorop, he is in deep trouble with the United States so going back there isn’t an option unless Gorsky can sweeten the deal.
Toorop ends up meeting with Aurora and her nursemaid, Sister Rebeka (Michelle Yeoh). There is something special about this girl that Gorsky never told to Toorop before accepting the job. She is a telepath and can read people’s minds. Toorop grabs both women and they start to head towards New York. Things aren’t going to go so well for the trio once the High Priestess (Charlotte Rampling ) gets herself involved. The High Priestess is a priestess of a neophyte religion. At this point it makes you wonder if the film will turn into some huge philosophical message.
I really wanted to like ‘Babylon A.D.’ a lot considering that Vin Diesel is in the film and I enjoy his action films for what they are. The film is really good the first 45 minutes or so, but things start to go south from there. It makes you feel in those first 45 minutes that this film is trying to be something epic like Blade Runner. The problem that I had was that the first half of the film felt like one movie and then the second half felt like a whole different film with no real connection between the two. Then the other problem that I had was with Vin Diesel’s character. He was so badass the first half of the film and then all of a sudden he turns into the complete opposite. It is things like this that hold back this movie from being very good.
Movie Content: 2.5/5
The print is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The print is rather inconsistent in certain areas. Colors are de-saturated throughout the entire presentation. The lighting was a bit too bright in many scenes which ended up making the image seem like there was a sun in the background. Black levels are deep and inky. Flesh tones weren’t accurate and looked a tad blah. Details aren’t the best that I have seen in a high definition presentation. There is grain and noise throughout the presentation of varying degrees. This tends to become distracting to the viewer. Some of these choices work in a way for the film due to the nature of the material.
Video Quality: 3/5
The audio is presented in DTS-HD MA lossless 5.1 mix. If there is one redeeming element for this disc, it has to do with the audio presentation. From the dialogue pieces and the effects in the soundfield, the audio is top notch. This is one aggressive mix during the action sequences providing a nice dynamic range and excellent panning. The sound makes you feel as if you are a part of the action and sitting right in the thick of things. Dialogue was clean and clear through the center channel. I found this mix to be well balanced with no point during the film did I have to use my remote to adjust the volume.
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
- Babylon Babies Featurette [HD]
- Arctic Escape Featurette [HD]
- Fit for the Screen Featurette [HD]
- Flight of the Hummers Featurette [HD]
- Prequel to Babylon A.D.: Genesis of Aurora Digital Graphic Novel [HD]
- PIP Bonus View: Scene Evolution
- Still Gallery
- PIP Bonus View: Babylon A.D. Commercials
- Digital Copy
Special Features: 4/5
2 Disc Special Edition DVD
The print is presented in anamorphic widescreen with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The print looks good for DVD with no apparent artifacts or damage to the print. Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 mix and is a rather immersive experience. All the same special features that are on the Blu-ray version also appear on the DVD minus the PIP Bonus View’s and D-Box. There is also a digital copy that comes with the film on a second disc.
The Final Word
I am a fan of sci-fi and having seen many excellent and mediocre films over the years I can say that I was a tad bit disappointed with ‘Babylon A.D.’. The film is rather confusing once the second half of the film begins and goes off in the wrong direction. On Blu-ray the film offers inconsistent video, but excellent audio that is almost reference quality. If you enjoyed the film in the theaters, then you will enjoy this film on Blu-ray or with the 2 Disc DVD.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5 (Rental)