Michael G. (mgmirkin) from PORTLAND, OR Reviewed on 12/22/2009...
Not at all what I was expecting from the cover and the description.
I was rather hoping for something in the cyberpunk or neo noir genres, along the lines of Minority Report, Blade Runner, The Fifth Element, Paycheck or The Island. Something decidedly futuristic, with lots of flashy special effects.
What I got was something decidedly different. The film seemed more contemporary for the most part, with minimal futurism. I knew from the opening minutes of the film that it wouldn't give me what I was looking for (based on the cover and description).
The film was a pretty run-of-the-mill actioner starring Vin Diesel as a mercenary smuggling a girl and her caretaker from Europe to America. The final acts of the movie had a few futurist elements, but not enough to save the movie. Over-all it seemed pretty low-tech.
It didn't get into much philosophy or examination of the human condition. So, unlike some of the films mentioned above it seemed a bit more mundane in that regard.
As long as you like Vin Diesel and you're not expecting Blade Runner, The Fifth Element, Minority Report, The Island, or some equivalent thereof, it's somewhat passable. At least worth a rental.
Doesn't deserve the hatred -- and probably no more than a re
Tyler Foster | Seattle, WA | 01/07/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Much like The Spirit, a poorly-written, all-over-the-map misinterpretation of Will Eisner's character, complete with entertaining performances and stunning visuals, Babylon A.D. is a confusing, occasionally dry, very familiar mess with some strong performances and stunning visuals in service of a fairly engaging story. It is not, by any means, a great film. It is also not, by any means, a disaster. I noted that Babylon A.D. has one one-star rating on here, and I think the movie deserves better. I saw the film in theaters, and I was reasonably entertained up until the last five minutes. Not even The Spirit completely lived up to that standard.
When films like this come along, I wonder how many people tune out once they've seen a few things they don't like. I am a glass-half-full person. Hundreds of films come out every year, and 90% of them probably have merits that people simply ignore because it's easier to attack the things about them that aren't as sharp. Sure, it borrows from Blade Runner. Movies borrow from other movies. If this was automatically a strike against a film, Quentin Tarantino would have no fans. I personally think Vin Diesel is a fairly charismatic actor (see his recent effort Find Me Guilty for evidence of this), and yet it's like he's got a target on his head. I'm sure some people decided they didn't like this movie just on the basis that he's in it.
The "Unrated and Raw" presentation on DVD does not work miracles on the film. Numerous internet sources claim varying degrees of footage was altered or chopped out of the film, ranging from 15 minutes (since the theatrical cut ran 90m and this runs 103, that's about 15) all the way up to a towering 70m. Admittedly, this ending makes a LOT more sense (which is to say, any sense) than the theatrical ending, although, with apologies to director Mathieu Kassovitz, I liked the hummer chase, presented as a deleted scene on the 2-disc DVD (not to mention in the version without the chase, one set of antagonists just gives up, apparently).
For some reason, it's apparently easy to forget that the scale goes from one to five, and the three stars in the middle are more than padding for the first and last ones. I've seen movies that aren't even always in focus. Certainly a movie can become terrible long before it starts to fail on a technical level, but Babylon A.D. is not one of those movies. It's perfectly OKAY, and that's something that deserves some more credit."
Could have been much better.
Ana Mardoll | United States | 06/01/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Babylon A.D. / B001KMB6YG
I'm not really sure what happened here. Vin Diesel does mindless action, and does it well, and here is no exception - whatever flaws "Babylon A.D." has, they are not his fault. Nor are they the fault of Michelle Yeoh who carries herself (as always) superbly, leaving the viewer to wonder why, exactly, Yeoh keeps showing up in particularly flat action movies (The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor leaps to mind) when she really is so much better than that and has proven it time and time again. Either there's still some kind of "White Actresses Only" rule barring Yeoh from the better movies, or she has a really terrible agent. Anyway.
Sometimes you can just tell when a movie is based off of a science fiction story you haven't been exposed to. "Babylon A.D." is definitely one of those movies - sure enough, the opening credits note a sci-fi story that may or may not be obscure, but which I definitely haven't read yet. A lot of the standard sci-fi fare is here: much of the world's animals have died out, and have been replaced by clones; America is a closed-borders super-power where a high standard of living is possible for the wealthy, but the rest of the world flounders in deep poverty and warfare; genetic modification of humans is the way to the future. Etc.
Into all this steps Vin Diesel, a conscientious mercenary given a second chance to re-enter America, if only he will deliver a sheltered teenager (and her adoptive mother, Yeoh) along the way. Vin Diesel is only too happy to comply, although he is understandably spooked by the sleepy-eyed girl he's been given charge of. When the girl starts displaying uncanny abilities, such as a near-psychic understanding of the immediate future, an ability to speak multiple languages fluently, and intimate knowledge of the controls of a derelict submarine, he recognizes that there's something a bit off about the young lady and - suspects - that she might be carrying a terrorist-created virus. If so, he vows to murder the girl before she can be 'activated', although this doesn't make much sense because (mind you, I'm not a biologist) it seems like that wouldn't necessarily neutralize the danger.
Anyway, that doesn't matter, because it turns out the girl is *really* a genetically modified human with 'the brain of a computer' and she's been impregnated with twins (apparently during a brief doctor's visit prior to the start of the movie) who are 'powerful' even in the womb, yet in a completely undefined sense. The girl's "mother" - the leader of a cult who commissioned her birth in the hope that this new messiah/madonna would bring in a few more converts - plans to kidnap the girl and...well, it's not exactly clear what she plans to do with her. Use her as a P.R. device, apparently, but it's not clear why Vin Diesel feels compelled to save her from this fate. For that matter, it's exceedingly creepy to see the young lady come on to Vin Diesel, given that he's getting at that age where he could probably be her father and, besides, his entire role in the movie up to her attempted seduction is a paternal one, not a romantic one. It would seem that Hollywood no longer knows how to portray a Man and a Woman without insisting that they "Find Twue Luv".
Despite serious differences in age and genetics, Vin Diesel realizes that he does love the girl and saves her from a non-specific fate that might be bad, but might not be. And then, because the movie was getting a bit longish, we immediately jump to the epilogue where we find that our Computer-Brain Girl was only designed to bear children and nothing more (why? how?) and she has spent the entire pregnancy in a coma (which we all know is just wonderful for fetal development, good grief), and once she delivers (in the quietest delivery ever), she will die and leave the infants in Vin Diesel's capable hands, where he will protect them from...what? Being used for evil, perhaps, although it's unclear how the children could be useful for anything more than the average human baby. This is left out, however, either because they were hoping for a sequel or - more likely - because they ran out of budget.
"Babylon A.D" suffers simultaneously from too much exposition and not enough of it. Huge swaths of dialogue are devoted to heart-to-heart conversations between Vin Diesel and Yeoh while they hash out that the girl is really super special and important - really! - without the viewer ever understanding *why* the girl is useful nor *why* her children are important or powerful or even where they came from. The result is that there is far too little mindless action (because we have to talk about Special! Computer! Girl!) for this to be a proper action flick, and yet far too little pertinent exposition for this to be a proper science fiction film. Since much of the movie feels sloppy and poorly edited, I expect that the whole thing was filmed with a proper amount of action and exposition and then someone with poor editing kung fu took out the relevant dialogue and left in the moody, introspective stuff.
It is possible that familiarity with the source material is just a necessity for proper viewing of this movie, however, I tend to feel that a movie should be able to stand on its own without needing "pre-reading" on the part of the viewer. In that sense, "Babylon A.D." fails, and I don't particularly recommend it as anything more than a mindless adult-protects-precocious-child-through-scifi-explosions movie, and if you want to watch something like that, at least Ultraviolet has vampires. I'm just saying."
Intriguing stunner...... bad editing
M. Western | 01/11/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I rarely go into Vin Deisel movies with high expectations given his limited range. Lets face it, when you build a certain physique and persona you have to accept the pigeonholing as an actor. I read other reviews and removed this from my pre-order list and made it a rental instead. What a surprize to the upside. Some of the critique for this movie is warrented and the ending as you find it now will leave questions. The most important attitude to see this movie with is to enjoy the process and not look for simple gratification in the ending. As a near futuristic movie, this film tackles the challenge of envisioning a near future with new technology that is, if not realistic, still far from the utterly rediculous that many movies try to present. THIS IS NOT JUST A DUMBED DOWN ACTION SPECTACLE. One might be surprized to see Vin in what is actually a very ambitious, intelligent movie for this genre in my opinion. Though any one part of the plot by itself may not be original, I found the sum total to be refreshingly different. There are also spectacular visuals, very well orchestrated action scenes, thought provoking issues and conflicts and very wonderful performances by many actors. Pay attention to the technologies and gadgets here and there, a little satyre on religion and the questions of real faith and spirituality. This is a really good movie that just couldn't do everything it wanted in the time allowed. Don't get me wrong, if I were rating the construction or editing of this movie it would be two stars. I have no doubt that it was butchered by idiots who had no faith in an original vision. If what I have read in other reviews is correct, this movie could really be a marvel if there is an extended version that doesn't screw it up. I wouldn't normally find myself looking forward to a three hour Vin Deisel movie but I would really like to see what they can do with this one."
"Save the planet. What for? And from what? From ourselves?"
Amanda Richards | Georgetown, Guyana | 10/12/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
""If you get caught between the Moon and New York City The best that you can do ...... The best that you can do is fall in love" (Christopher Cross "Arthur's Theme")
Short Attention Span Summary (SASS):
Time: Near future
1. Mobster (Gerard Depardieu) hires mercenary (Vin Diesel) to transport girl named Aurora (Melanie Thierry) from Eastern Europe to New York 2. Girl comes with chaperone (Michelle Yeoh), a kung fu fightin' nun of the Noelite order. 3. Traveling proves to be even more stressful and painful in the near future 4. There's something about Aurora 5. Scientist (Lambert Wilson) and High Priestess (Charlotte Rampling) aren't nominated for any parenting awards (and aren't likely to win any kind of awards for this movie) 6. Plot somehow manages to be simplistic and convoluted at the same time 7. Multiple fight scenes, car chases and explosions occur, but are presented with such frenetic activity that you can't really tell what's going on. 8. Movie ends, not with a cliff-hanger, but with a jaw-dropper
This is a futuristic, apocalyptic and violent movie, with a mercenary named Thoorop (Diesel) hired to smuggle a young woman named Aurora into the United States, to New York. We learn that Aurora has a lot of secrets hidden under her skin, and that there are opposing factions who are trying to get their hands on her. Thoorop spends the trip trying to protect Aurora from people who've never heard of not shooting the messenger, and eventually decides to change the rules a little.
Diesel plays his usual role as the strong mostly silent type, growling out his lines as if through a mouthful of broken glass. The other actors seem mostly shell-shocked, wondering how they got themselves into this, and making mental notes to ignore casting calls in the unlikely event of a sequel.
There's enough action to keep your interest, and the twist will at least make you say "Huh??" - but overall I'd have to say that this movie puts the "babble" in "Babylon"
Babble: v. intr. To utter a meaningless confusion of words or sounds
Rated: 2.5 stars
Amanda Richards, October 11, 2008
Gulshan Batra | India | 10/06/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Vin Diesel turns out yet another of his stone-faced performances in this sci-fi futuristic flick about a miracle child, who'll supposedly save the world. I know, it reminded me too of "Children of Men", though the plot there was a little better explained and easier to follow, and made more sense.
Babylon A.D. is a half-hearted attempt at making a sci-fi movie, but sadly the creators forgot the cardinal rules of sci-fi: - make the plot EITHER a natural extension of the present, OR totally deviated from the present - explain the concept of what makes up the sci-fi component in the movie to the audience so that you (can) create a following
Neither of these happens. It's not explained how the plot begins, it is not explained who is Aurora or how did she become who she is (until very late into the movie), and worst of all, what is expected to happen after the movie storyline ends, is simply absent!
Another defining aspect of a good sci-fi flick is the action sequences. This is something one would have expected from Vin Diesel too. However, all the action stunts in the movie suffer from an overdose of editing, and too fast camera movements. There is no actual fight sequence. You have to stare unblinkingly to follow what is happening, and after 5 minutes, realize that nothing much happened anyway!
Michelle Yeoh is wasted in her role...
Overall Rating: 1.5 / 5 (if only for the attempt!)"