It’s been awhile since Babylon A.D. saw the silver screen. Released far back in August of 2008, the film took it’s sweet time arriving on the format, likely a plan of Fox Home Entertainment so that the movie going public would forget about this film which was smeared in theaters by critics (it’s currently holding an impressive 7% score on Rotten Tomatoes). With this new home video release the film comes to us in a “Raw and Uncut” form, with eleven minutes of extra footage. The real question is, however…does that help the film any?
Vin Diesel stars as Toorop, a ruthless mercenary hired to smuggle a mysterious young woman from the post-apocalyptic confines of Eastern Europe to the glittering megalopolis of New York City. Eye-popping action and min-blowing science fiction clash head-on in this hard-edge thriller, where the only rule is…survival! Co-starring Mélanie Thierry as Aurora and Michelle Yeoh as Sister Rebeka.
How exactly am I supposed to watch a film that even the director likens it to a “bad episode of 24.” Let me tell you, being the huge 24 fan that I am, I actually took offense to that quote as this film is really just a giant piece of tripe. Few Sci-Fi films have been as bad as this (Battlefield Earth comes to mind) and the whole film feels like a giant mash-up of Children of Men, The Fifth Element and whatever other crazy apocalyptic future we’ve seen in sci-fi films for the last ten years.
Knowing full well that the director doesn’t even like the film made the overall consensus of the film a little bit tamer. After watching it I felt ready to tear this one a new one, but doing a little research online to see who the hell greenlit this film, I stumbled upon some very choice words the director had for this film. Indeed, it explains why there’s no commentary on this film, as director Mathiew Kassovitz is anything but satisfied with the outcome of this film.
It’s clear why; no director in his right mind would be proud to call this film his own. Despite some enticing visuals (which admittedly look great), the films plot is really just one of the most rehashed plots to ever come into fruition; in fact, the film is little else than a female Neo with the entire Matrix inside her head, able to learn how to drive submarines on the fly and miraculously become pregnant with twins despite being a virgin (ok so that last one isn’t from The Matrix, but still). The rest of the cast is no help either; Michelle Yeoh, fresh off of her appearance in The Mummy 3 (which I saw before this, obviously) once again showed up in a film not worthy of her talents and Vin Diesel…hoo boy, what happened to you? You used to at least be entertaining, but this is just a disappointing film all around and he doesn’t make it any better.
Just about the only thing you can usually find redeeming from these types of films are the action and the action here is…well…disappointing. Nothing ever once makes you take notice of what’s happening on screen in ways even Bangkok Dangerous did and even the futuristic visuals get tiresome after awhile. Between the delayed schedule and over-budget production of this film, it’s clear a got lost in the shuffle and everything (and everyone) suffered because of it.
Overall Babylon A.D. is a terrible film, without a doubt. It’s a shame, since Fox really gave it a solid Blu-ray release, but overall it can be easily Skipped. You won’t miss anything and if you do happen to watch it, you’ll just hate yourself later.
Two-disc Elite Blu-ray case, inserts for firmware upgrades, other Fox Blu-ray releases and the code for the digital copy accompany the set which has the usual fancy menus from Fox. Oddly enough this unrated cut doesn’t include the theatrical version, but I guess that’s not a huge issue since the theatrical one apparently sucked as well. Even stranger is a real “director’s cut” supposedly exists, but there is no such inclusion here. Strange.
The AVC encoded 1080p 2.35:1 transfer for this film is quite fantastic looking. This is a shame since the film is so poor, but the transfer is one thing viewers of this film won’t have a problem with. Plenty of deep blacks, fantastic lighting and cool costumes are loaded with detail. The transfer really shines during some of the “epic” city shots and you’ll forget, however briefly, that what you’re watching is a terrible, terrible film. Audio is a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix that is similarly filled with detail, with plenty of surround usage and ample subwoofer output. Just as you fall asleep a gun goes off or something blows up to shake you out of the stupor…or at the very least your ass vibrates enough to make you roll over.
As previously mentioned, the lack of commentary here isn’t surprising after the lashing the director gave this film the week of its release (I’m actually quite impressed by the director for his speaking out about it before patrons wasted money on it). What is included is a Babylon Babies (11:04) featurette that focuses on the original novels unique elements, while Arctic Escape (11:41) details the making of the action sequence. Fit for the Screen (7:04) details the physical hardships the film presented for its actors and Flight of the Hummers (8:01) shows off the production of the car chase. Prequel to Bablyon A.D.: Genesis of Aurora (5:08) is a quick animated graphic novel prequel to the film (hooray). All of these featurettes are presented in 1080i.
There are a few Blu-ray bonuses here, such as the BonusVIEW section that allows you to view some making-of footage with the “Scene Evolution” bit, as well as a selection of “Commercials” made for the film. If you haven’t had enough, there’s also a 1080p Deleted Scene (2:32) from the film. Those with a D-Box Motion Control System can experience the bumps and thrills of the film as well, if you want. I unfortunately don’t have the room for a vibrating chair (or the desire to drive 33 miles to the nearest retailer who has one), so I can’t comment on that aspect.
Overall Babylon A.D. is a disappointing film, which everyone pretty much knows by now. Don’t bother with this one. Skip It.
Babylon A.D. is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.