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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF BD REVIEW: Babylon A.D. - Raw and Uncut

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#1 of 9 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

Michael Osadciw


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Posted January 20 2009 - 03:21 PM

Blu-ray Disc Review


Studio: 20th Century Fox
Film Year: 2008
Film Length: 101 minutes
Genre: Action/Thriller/Science Fiction

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Colour/B&W: Colour

BD Specifications:
Resolution: 1080/24p
Video Codec: AVC @ 31MBPS
Disc Size: BD-50

  • English DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio
  • French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround

    Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean
    Film Rating: Unrated

  • Release Date: January 06, 2009.


    Starring: Vin Diesel (Toorop), Michelle Yeoh (Sister Rebeka), Mélanie Thierry

    Writing/Screenplay by: Eric Besnard & Mathieu Kassovitz
    Directed by: Mathieu Kassovitz

    Vin Diesel stars as Toorop in this futuristic tale and the fight to save humanity. Toorop is a veteran-turned-mercenary who was hired to protect a young, mysterious girl. Aurora, who so innocent hasn’t seen the world beyond her hideaway monastery (why that place exists is not fully explained), and is smuggled by Toorop and her guardian to New York for reasons unknown to them. It isn’t an easy trip as they fight to stay alive all the way there proving that not even good friends can be trusted. The girl’s importance is much more than what it seems and people will kill to have her in their possession.

    This is the 101-minute Studio Canal version released overseas, compared to the domestic 90-minute run time.

    There is not much to complain about with this image. The final look of the film and transfer to disc looks well done and not objectionable to the audience. Grain is here and there throughout and I’ll assume that is because of the intended look. Colours are somewhat desaturated albeit solid and clean. The image has some good imagery and depth of field. CGI is throughout and blends in nicely even on large screens. Bright exteriors can look slightly blown out, but again, it’s not too objectionable if it’s the intended look. Interior shots such as the scene in Toorop’s apartment and when Toorop first kick’s ass with Aurora’s guardian in the bar/fight club looks detailed and articulate for dimly lit scenes. Shadow detail is very good. All subtitles are all within the 2.35:1 safe area for those using 2.35:1 screens.

    Re-equalization will be required for this soundtrack. It’s a bit aggressive in some key frequencies and re-EQ helps calm it down a bit. Still, the end result is fun to listen to. Sound effects can be exaggerated for audience response (for example, when Toorop rips apart his rabbit before cooking). I’ll forgive the sound designers for this because are movies ever real?? The front soundstage is energized with gangsta rap, a multitude of guns firing off, and punches to the gut. Fun, right? The sound design is sometimes a movie’s saving grace – if I enjoy a few fight scenes with sound that is earthly and environmentally integrated, I give it a few points (unless the movie is really the pits). Like most other movies, Babylon A.D. sounds flat and doesn’t give that real soundstage depth like what is available with good music recordings.

    TACTILE FUN!!: 3.5/5

    There’s some good shakin’ going on in Babylon A.D., and it’s no surprise that this Blu-ray disc has a D-Box motion code for D-Box simulators. I just wish I had the ability to try it out. Ah well, one day when I’m in the mood for something a little more fun.

    Five featurettes are included. They are all in HD and add up to a running time of about 38 minutes.

  • Babylon Babies is a long interview with the author of the original story, discussing his thoughts about the story and how it came to film.

  • Arctic Escape has the second unit director and stunt coordinator discussing the shoot in Sweden for the snowmobile chase scenes, including some footage too.

  • Fit for the Screen is a cool behind the scenes piece on the fight scenes in the film.

  • Flight of the Hummers puzzles me to death because it discusses how this scene was originally taken out of the storyboarding but then at the final moment, Fox wanted it shot and cut into the end of the film. In the end, the scene was still cut! To be polite, WTF? (see my rant in the deleted scenes section).

  • Prequel to Babylon A.D.: Genesis of Aurora – Digital Graphic Novel is a 5 minute HD prequel to this film.

  • Deleted Scenes - this is not listed on the back of the BD case, but that doesn’t surprise me because for some reason the people putting these together for Fox always seem to miss a detail or two (or maybe these case specs are created too early around a changing feature schedule). In any case, this is the “Flight of the Hummers” sequence cut from the film. With a 100% finished and polished look and mixed in 5.1 surround, this scene still didn’t make it in the “Raw and Uncut” version of the film. Hmmm…so what makes this movie so uncut? The scene provides closure for some things that are left unanswered in the film as we know it. This scene was supposed to be the climax, but since it was cut, I can only imagine it was only to keep it open for a sequel and to include those characters that die.

  • The BonusView feature has about 51 minutes of “scene evolutions” – seventeen in all to be exact, which highlight behind the scenes takes of various points of the film. A second BonusView partition is of Babylon A.D. Commercials. Shot in SD, they are of the moving ads that appear in the background of New York City, made only for this movie. They aren’t great ads since their appearance is hardly in the film, but they are still interesting to see. (All BonusView features can be accessed separately for non-compatible players).

    Remaining are still galleries (16), trailers: Stargate: Continuum, The X-Files: I Want to Believe, The Happening, and a three minute inside look of Behind Enemy Lines: Columbia. But no trailer for the feature itself, because that would just make too much sense.

    A digital copy is also provided for portable media players.

    IN THE END...

    Babylon A.D. is entertaining enough to give it a look. The audio and video quality is up to par so if you are stuck for a movie to rent, you may want to take a look at this one.

    Michael Osadciw
    January 20, 2009.

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    Michael Osadciw

    THX/ISF Professional Video Calibrator

    Video Contributor

    CANADA HiFi Magazine

    #2 of 9 OFFLINE   Ron-P



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    Posted January 20 2009 - 03:47 PM

    This was a blind buy when it streeted, I've watched it three times since. Fun, entertaining popcorn film. Great A/V as well.
    You have all the weapons you need...Now fight!

    #3 of 9 OFFLINE   Will_B



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    Posted January 20 2009 - 03:59 PM

    So, when the director disowned it, did he disown it to the extent that someone else made it 'raw and uncut', or did he return to try to fix it, or what?
    "Scientists are saying the future is going to be far more futuristic than they originally predicted." -Krysta Now

    #4 of 9 OFFLINE   Edwin-S



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    Posted January 20 2009 - 06:08 PM

    I'm thinking that this might have been the initial cut before Fox pared it down to 90 minutes. I'm pretty sure the director was probably not any happier with this cut. The whole film has a "phoned in" feel in almost every way. I noticed that there was no director's commentary. Normally, I wouldn't read much into such an absence, but considering the troubled history of this film I think the lack of a commentary indicates something. I read, on this forum, that this film cost 100 million to make. After watching it, I was hard pressed figuring out what all of that money was spent on.
    "You bring a horse for me?" "Looks like......looks like we're shy of one horse." "No.......You brought two too many."

    #5 of 9 OFFLINE   Southpaw


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    Posted January 21 2009 - 01:25 AM

    I blind bought this one too. It ended up being a total guilty pleasure for me. I really enjoyed it and as noted above, PQ/AQ are outstanding. I think my sub was working the entire time. Posted Image

    #6 of 9 OFFLINE   Martin Henry

    Martin Henry

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    Posted January 25 2009 - 11:41 AM

    Same here. Never saw the theatrical cut, but I'm glad they removed that horrible chase sequence from the ending. You can watch it as a deleted scene and my word does it look awful!

    #7 of 9 OFFLINE   George_W_K



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    Posted January 25 2009 - 01:08 PM

    I rented this a week or two ago and have to agree with the PQ and AQ ratings, pretty good BD. As for the movie itself, I'm very happy that I only rented it, the scene with the submarine coming out of the ice was the only thing that made it worth renting. I can't imagine what a crappy experience the 90 minute version must have been.

    #8 of 9 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw


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    Posted January 26 2009 - 04:04 PM

    I didn't really comment much on this film because I really didn't know what to say about it. I felt that there were way too many holes in the story, things happened much too quickly without explanation, and with little reason. For example (which someone else commented on elsewhere) -> from the club fight -> submarine -> talk of a virus -> to suddenly racing on snowmobiles in Canada... it left me puzzled, confused, and questioning what the hell just happened and what exactly am I supposed to believe in this story? There is rumour of a 161-minute cut and that Fox wanted a short PG-13 film from this thing...well, Fox got their typical no-brainer shoot-em up...because that's all this film ended up being. If this 161-minute version does exist, and is tightened up to the director's vision and does make the film better...other than running time, why would Fox destroy it? On the other hand, if it's just a 161-minute no-brainer shoot-em-up with lots of boring talk that doesn't progress the story...then that's different. But I have a feeling that wouldn't be the case. I think it's time for the director to speak out on this and clear the air.

    Michael Osadciw

    THX/ISF Professional Video Calibrator

    Video Contributor

    CANADA HiFi Magazine

    #9 of 9 OFFLINE   Ryan-G


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    Posted January 26 2009 - 07:21 PM

    My thoughts, I felt that overall the sequences you mentioned worked reasonably well, though it could've used some better in between stuff from the sub to the snowmobiles. IMO, the story really broke down in America. Everything from that point onwards completely changed the entire tone and direction of the movie IMO, with little reason given as to why. More background earlier could've helped, or a longer sequence in America, but the way it stands even uncut just lost the entire feel. I would be *very* interested in a longer cut than even this, because I feel that this movie is still salvagable as a very decent story if there's still footage out there to reconnect it's "Two parts" into a cohesive storyline. I also feel, for any forum members who are on the fence, that it's worth at least rental time, and possibly more depending on your interests. The better part of the movie is very decent, it just shifts gears abruptly, and even when it shifts gears it isn't bad. It just doesn't stay cohesive.

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