Friday, January 09, 2009

Reviewed by: Paul Shirey

Director: Mathieu Kassovitz

Actors: Vin Diesel, Michelle Yeoh, Mélanie Thierry, Mark Strong, and Gerard Depardieu (Yes, that one).

Movie: 1.5 stars
DVD: 1 star
Overall: 1.5 stars

Vin Diesel plays Vin Diesel as a mercenary hired to escort a hot chick and Michelle Yeoh from Russia to New York for reasons I’m still trying to figure out. Read on.

You’ve seen this movie a hundred times already and it was way better before. Babylon A.D. is a hodgepodge of every sci-fi action flick made in the last twenty years. Take Children of Men, The Fifth Element, Blade Runner, Minority Report, and the Riddick movies, toss them in the ol’ cinematic blender and out comes Babylon A.D….the latest bastard stepchild of the sci-fi genre.

This is one of those movies that feels like they really wanted it to succeed, threw tons of money at it, and everything just fell apart. Vin Diesel is just fine as the mercenary Theroop (like Turok…whatever) if you want to settle for more of the same. Surprisingly enough, Michelle Yeoh is actually quite convincing as a nun/martial arts master (oh, you heard me right). She even cries. So, you know that’s good. Aurora, the chick he’s taking to New York, is hot enough, but there’s no boobage or anything beyond her acting like the typical “chosen one” spazz, so who cares?

The SFX are slightly above average, but mostly on par with XXX, which also sucked. The action is sparse and unfocused, the story is convoluted and cliché and we’re done. Chances are you’re gonna be at Blockbuster or filling up your Netflix Queue and run across this Vin Diesel movie that you never saw in theaters (because you blinked) and you’ll be curious to see if it sucks or not, since you liked him in the Riddick flicks and that car movie with Jordana Brewster, but I assure you, this is one Babylon better left in ruins.

Video: 1:85:1 Widescreen. Not a bad movie to show off on Blu-Ray due to the ripped off visual collage from better-made sci-fi…but you could do worse…like Johnny Mnemonic…or better, like Blade Runner.

Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital for those inclined. Unfortunately, the few moments where the filmmakers could have even attempted something sexy with the sound they didn’t even try. Don’t bother waking the neighbors for this one.

I watched the standard disc version with both the theatrical and unrated versions of the film. The only main difference is a pointless car chase at the end of the theatrical cut, which was omitted from the unrated version (which also ends with a dedication “for my daughters.” Not the best legacy, dude). Other than that, the only extra on this puppy is a bunch of FOX trailers for more movies that failed at the box office.

Diehard sci-fi and/or Vin Diesel fans may find tidbits of interest in Babylon A.D., but there’s hardly a shred of anything memorable. You’ll most likely say, “It wasn’t that bad…” Then there will be a long silence and you’ll look over to whoever you made sit through the whole thing with you and you’ll bow your head and hand over the five bucks you just lost.

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