Babylon A.D. — An idea that went from good, to bad, to decent.

I had my eye on this movie since its late production stages.  My nerdom is cyberpunk.  It always has and will be; sadly, it’s one of the worst ones to subscribe to.  The reason for this is because it’s so damn niche.  What’s even worse?  Usually those niche things, when they are released on the market, end up being sealed away in the Crap Vault for eternity; honestly, I thought this was what happened to this movie.  When it came out in theaters, I practically wanted to cry because of all the terrible reviews that rolled in and I typically agree with critics.  Back in 2008, cyberpunk was pretty much declared a dead genre (though it’s slowly being re-resuscitated today) .  The last good cyberpunk flick during that time was probably A Scanner Darkly (2006).  Everything else was either b-rate or hard to get a hold of.  The Gene Generation, though intriguing in concept, was the ultimate in cyberpunk cheese.  The other film, Sleep Dealer, you could only see if you went to one of the film fests it showed at (and maybe an indie theater, neither of which I had access to when it was released).  Babylon A.D. was the only “mainstream” one since ’06.  As you can see, being part of a niche can either really suck or be really rewarding.  Luckily the extended cut of this movie does not belong in the aforementioned Crap Vault.

“DEUCES IS WILD, IT’S A TRIPLE THREAT”

I had access to the DVD that featured the theatrical and extended cut.  I watched both.  One of the major things that the extended cut has over the theatrical is character development.  Honestly, if you saw the theatrical before watching the extended (I did it the other way around), this movie does not make a lick of sense.  Vin Diesel’s character just seems to be some sort of bro biggot, Aurora (the girl he has to protect) appears to be more trouble than she’s worth, and the whole general plot line is far off course than what was intended.  If there is a lesson to be learned, it’s that editing can make a world of difference when it comes to plot and story.

This is what I look like when I critique things… or give life advice.

The theatrical cut’s story makes no sense.  It only makes a little bit if you see the extended first but still, it barely will.  I’d spoil the movie if I were to go into it deeper.  The true version is best compared to a mix between The Fifth Element, Children of Men, and a smidgen of Blade Runner.  Granted that even the extended cut is nowhere near as good as these movies, it definitely takes the first two’s “on the run” elements and draws that sense of mystery and worry the latter brings.  Clearly the director knew what made these three classics great.  The producer?  Not so much.  Though, I don’t think someone who was the mastermind behind Lawnmower Man 2 really has the say on what makes a sci-fi movie good; especially since the rest of his IMDb page consists of romances and historical flicks.  I don’t have anything against the guy but this isn’t a movie he should have touched.

Everything looks pretty with filters.
 
In the end, I have to say the extended cut is definitely worth checking out if cyberpunk and dystopian sci-fi are your genres of choice.  As a film (the extended cut) overall?  It’s okay.  Not great but not bad either.  It’s entertaining, a lot of colorful eye candy.  Some of the actions scenes are silly and out of place; I have a feeling those had a lot to do with the producer.  Granted they were required for the story but, compared to the slight level of subtlety in the extended version, it would be too expensive to reshoot them just for it.  That is one of the faults I have to give Babylon A.D. leeway on.  Though, there is one over-the-top action scene featured in the extended version that would have fit better in the theatrical (you’ll know it when you see it).  Thinking back, it was probably used for Aurora’s character development.  But even then, there were still some parts of it that didn’t involve her but maybe they just needed extra footage so it could be referred to as the “extended” cut.  The production of movies always has some mystery behind it.  Sadly, I think audiences will be left in the dark on this one.

What would go great with this (Extended Cut)?

Serve with…
Pasta alla Vodka

Accommodating beverage…
Tall, cool bottle of Baltika 8 beer.

What would go great with this (Theatrical Cut)?

Serve with…
Saltines.  Too bad, you have to starve through the whole thing.

Accommodating beverage…
McCormick Vodka.  A movie like this is hangover inducing, like cheap liquor.

Extended Cut Rating (I’m not bothering with the other one):

Critic Value: 7/10

Unlike the butchered theatrical cut, this version really plays with the thought of theocracy embracing technocracy to push their doctrines.  It’s not entirely apparent at first but the movie does leave you thinking.

Quality Value: 8/10

Once again, putting the ruined version aside, this film was well done all around.  From character development, to story, to cinematography and casting.  This film shows its budget.

Entertainment Value: 8/10

Time definitely flies by in this movie.  It’s visually engaging and the character connections will  get the audience caught in its web.

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About alexb289

I'm a film hobbyist first, critic second.

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