BABYLON A.D. is a great sci-fi action film. However, the public dispute
between director Mathieu Kassovitz and 20th Century Fox over a PG-13 cut of the film for North America has me wondering if
audiences are missing out on what could have the 21th century action film equivalent of BLADE RUNNER (which after seing the
unrated cut improves it a little bit and still not a BLADE RUNNER level type of film). Kassovitz wants an R rated film
that is closer to the intelligent novel BABYLON BABIES (which BABYLON A.D. is based on). Now the PG-13 version is almost as
good as CHILDREN OF MEN.
Mercenary Toorop (Vin Diesel) is living in Russia when a Russian
gangster Gorsky (a very unrecognizable Gerad Depardieu) gives him a job of transporting Aurora (Melanie Thierry) from a convent
in Asia to New York City. She must be there in six days. Along with Aurora is her protector/ stand-in mom Sister Rebeka (Michelle
Yoeh). Everyone who knows about Aurora is watching Toorop and his cargo. Toorop begins to discover that there is something
different about Aurora. The people who want her are the Neolites who give faith to women who lost their way. What follows
is a series of action sequences and bit character moments as Toorop realizes he has stepped into something that could change
the world. Vin Diesel is in the type of movie he is best in (sci-fi action) while Michelle Yoeh adds to the action quotient.
The movie makes me want to read BABYLON BABIES (which I bought right after seeing the film and still ahve to finish reading
the book). So expect a comparison between the book and the film in the near future. The hints of how slummy Russia is and
the extra Homeland Security measures of the USA in addition to the religious overtones brought by the Neolites up for a power
grab makes me wonder what the book will bring to the world hinted at in BABYLON A.D.
The unrated cut of BABYLON A.D. is better. the film ends where it should
have without the tack on ending. It does miss another two scenes- scenes filmed for the North American release of BABYLON
A.D.- the crossing of the border into the USA and the Hummer chase scene (included as a deleted scene on the DVD and too bad
the other two deleted scnes aren't included on the disc or the PG-13 cut).
Besides the above mentioned deleted scene, also four featurettes, several
still galleries (which show stills from various locations in the film), a digital graphic novel prequel called BABYLON A.D.:
GENESIS OF AURORA, commercials that played in the background on some of the TVS during the film, and trailers for other films
(JOY RIDE 2, THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE, THE HAPPENING).
The trailers for BABYLON A.D. aren't included and unfortunately a BEHIND
ENEMY LINES: COLOLUMBIA INSIDE LOOK is.
Out of the four featurettes, the first one is the best:
BABYLON BABIES- Maurice Dantec, author of BABYLON BABIES, talks about
the novel and chaarcters and even the film (he doesn't involve himself in the making of films based on his books).
ARTIC ESCAPE- a stunt featurette on that sequence in the film.
FIT FOR THE SCREEN- talk about the fight styles and stunts in BABYLON
A.D. interviews with Vin Diesel and stunt coordinator Bob Brown. Vin and Bob worked togetehr on the fight sequences.
HUMMERS IN FLIGHT- A behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the Hummers
Chase that is in the PG-13 cut.
FINAL ANALYSIS: Despite not beinga classic, BABYLON A.D. will
grow a cult following over time. I wish FOX included the PG-13 cut on the special Edition DVD (and not just on
the single disc version which has both cuts). I also wish they had a featurette on the struggle between the director
and the producers. Maybe time will see a featurette on that in a future release years down the line.
this DVD Review is (c)1-9-2009 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted
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