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BABYLON A.D. ($40) is a somewhat muddled, but otherwise entertaining enough science fiction / action movie. Letís face it, anytime Vin Dieselís name is about the title, one knows exactly what type of film they are going to see- and itís definitely not Shakespeare. If you are a Vin Diesel fan, you should walk away from BABYLON A.D. satisfied; however, those looking for thought provoking science fiction or fully fleshed out characters need turn their attention elsewhere.

Based on the novel Babylon Babies by Maurice Georges Dantec, BABYLON A.D. is set in a bleak future version of Eastern Europe, where society has broken down and poverty, crime and terrorism are running rampant. Vin Diesel portrays a mercenary named Toorop, who is hired by a Russian mobster, Gorsky (Gerard Depardieu), to smuggle some human cargo to America. Heavily armed, Toorop, picks up his charge Aurora (Mťlanie Thierry) and her guardian Sister Rebeka (Michelle Yeoh) at the Noelite Convent and proceeds to transport them across dangerous territory and tightly controlled borders to reach their New York City destination. There are plenty of stunts and action along the way, but there is only just enough of a story to propel the film to its next action sequence. Fortunately, BABYLON A.D. surrounds Vin Diesel with enough quality co-stars to keep it all interesting. Depardieu, Yeoh, plus Charlotte Rampling and Lambert Wilson do as much as they can with their underwritten characters.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made BABYLON A.D. available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation is generally excellent, even if the cinematography isnít all that attractive. Image clarity, sharpness, depth and detail all garner high marks. Fine details such as individual hairs, tiny lines on the actorsí faces, as well as the textures of objects are all rendered at a first rate level. Colors are subdued with all the appropriate bleakness of the filmís environments. Some moments offer stronger hues and more appealing flesh tones. Blacks are inky, while the whites are clean and crisp. Contrast and shadow detail are pretty terrific. The elements from which BABYLON A.D. has been mastered are virtually perfect. Grain is noticeable, and adds a nice gritty organic, quality to the presentation.

BABYLON A.D. is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The sound design is totally pumped up, which is just what one should expect from this type of action / science fiction movie. Sound effects leap out from every direction, with all of the outlying channels being exceedingly well utilized for the smooth panning of sonic elements. There are also good levels of ambience to help create convincing acoustic environments during the less busy passages. Fidelity is outstanding, producing fully convincing sound effects, as well as a strong musical component. The bass channel is deep and percussive which lends complete authority to the gunfire and explosions. Dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand. A French Dolby Digital 5.1 channel track has also been encoded onto the disc. Subtitles are available in French, Spanish, Korean, Mandarin and Cantonese.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some supplements. Scene Evolution and Babylon A.D. Commercials are offered as Bonus View picture-in-picture supplements to the film itself (requires a Profile 1.1 player). Featurettes include Babylon Babies (eleven minutes), Arctic Escape (twelve minutes), Fit For The Screen (seven minutes) and Flight Of The Hummers (eight minutes). Trailers and a Digital Graphic Novel entitled Prequel To Babylon A.D.: Genesis Of Aurora closes out the standard supplements. A Digital Copy of the film is also provided.

If you enjoyed Vin Dieselís other action movies, then youíll enjoy BABYLON A.D.. The Blu-ray presentation is generally excellent. Non-fans will want to look before buying.



Babylon A.D. [Blu-ray] (2008)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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