Babylon A.D.20th Century Fox (Blu-ray)
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. Hunted at every turn, Toorop spirits his charge across a nightmarish wasteland only to uncover a shocking secret that will bring the entire world to its knees. Eye-popping action and mind-blowing science fiction clash head-on in this hard-edged thriller, where the only rule is survival.
There was a lot of controversy surrounding this film when it was finally released to theaters. Director Mathieu Kassovitz was not pleased with the meddling from the studio during the production and essentially said the film was nothing close to his intentions when he started the project and actually told people not to go see it. This isn’t the first director I’ve heard complain about the interference with the creative vision that Fox seems to be making a reputation for. I don’t know if this uncut version is the true vision of the director but it seems to be a step in the right direction compared to the rather lousy reviews I got of the film from friends. While I wouldn’t call it a home run, it was an interesting popcorn film in the vein of Children of Men but without the dramatic prose.
The HD presentation is quite strong here and I was impressed with the great detail and dimension the transfer delivers. Depth of image is stunning and fine object detail was impeccable giving the image a very “through the window” look at times. Some of the effects work softens things up a bit but never to the point of distraction. The color palette is very natural with no gimmicky oversaturation, which is a nice change from the typical sci-fi we’re seeing in cinema today. Contrast is excellent with great blacks and solid shadow detail.
The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is a nice blend of subtle infrasonics and engaging surround design. Soundtrack selections are interesting with a mix of hip-hop and rock and really add to the lower end and intensity of the film. Surrounds are engaging with great panning effects and plenty of subtle environment cues that do a great job of putting you in the mix. The balance of the soundtrack is excellent and dialogue always has a natural tone and timbre. The action sequences are intense in the low end and really pull you in.
Most of the extras for this one are promo style and give you some small insight into the production. There are two features that take advantage of the Bonus View spec for Blu-ray and offer some commercials from the film and a look at production stages of some scenes. My favorite feature was the graphic novel prequel that shed some light on the character Aurora. A second disc also adds a digital copy of the film for portable devices.
I had pretty low expectations going in on this one and surprisingly it turned out to be pretty good. While not the most original or ground breaking sci-fi film of the last few years I certainly didn’t find it to be a waste of time. Fox has done an outstanding job with the A/V presentation making this an easy recommendation for at least a rental.