"Jakob" (Robin Williams) is a Jew living in a Nazi-occupied Polish ghetto where the residents have lost all hope. One night, he is ordered to report to the officer in charge after being caught outside, allegedly after curfew. While he was in the office, waiting to be repremanded, he overhears a radio report about the advancing Russian troops.
When he returns to the neighborhood, he informs his friends what he had heard. However, as the news spread, his story transformed into something else. People began to believe he had a radio hidden in his home as his story began traveling through the grapevine.
This is simply a story of hope for those oppressed such as the Jews during the Nazi occupation so many decades ago. And it is done very well.
Let me say that this movie is not a happy story. Even the ending is shadowed by sadness, though it does have a touch of happiness.
Williams is very good in this film. He made his character compassionate to those in his neighborhood. As he told the stories, which were just stories to keep the Jews hopes up, you began to believe them just as much as those forced into the same situation as he was in the story. He was very believeable as he told his fictional news.
In fact, there were many good performances from the rest of the cast. You could actually feel the emotion from the entire cast. It was one of the most believeable performances from an entire cast that I've seen in a long time.
One thing you will notice is the lack of light, and color. You get lots of gray, black and white in clothing, as well as the walls (interior and exterior). This helps set the mood perfectly if you ask me. The only time I can recall any color was a shot of the Nazi flag.
There is also a lack of happy music in the film. There is one scene between Williams and the young girl (Hannah Taylor Gordon) that is short, but it is a happy scene with fun music.
Wardrobes are very accurate in this film. The Jews clothing look worn, and very dirty. They look as if they didn't wash their clothing in some time. The Nazi uniforms are also quite accurate in their appearance.
The violence is fairly mild in this film. There is a little blood, far less than you would expect. The Nazi soldiers use machine guns against the Jews, but there is little to no blood splatter as they are apparently struck.
There is also little to no action. Many of the scenes drag on, but many drag at an appropriate pace that works well.
To parents, I would suggest that you avoid this one if you have young children. If you have kids who are able to understand the plot, then watch it with them.
So, does Babylon A.D. get an "A" or a "D" on its scorecard? Maybe it will depend on which version of the movie you get to see in the years to come. This film got my attention as another one of those movies that shatters auteur theory into jagged little pieces.
The French director, Mathieu Kassovitz even hates his own movie now that it has been taken away from him by the studio and bailed out by the production's insurance company after it went over budget and well beyond the film schedule. Maybe Babylon A.D. will get revisited on DVD in its former "glory."
Its current "glory" is like an annoying, predictable firework. The movie is a cross between "The Fifth Element" and "Children of Men" without any of the playful fun of the former, and none of the intensity of the latter. Barely any of the movie takes place in New York, as the advertisements would have me believe, which may have something to do with the production going over budget (You can tell this is the New York of the future, though, because there are lots of neon advertisements splattered across the sides of buildings). The action sequences are chaotic, which may have something to do with the production going over budget, or something to do with the close-up, shaky hand-held footage. The embarrassingly tacked-on sequence of a snowmobile chase looks terrible, like it is being streamed on low-bandwidth internet connection, which may have something to do with how cold it was when they were filming. The story is nothing original, but it is possible to engage an audience even with a predictable story depending on how you tell it, and how this story was told may have something to do with the production going over budget, something to do with the studio cutting its costs, and something to do with how long it can take to make some stories work.
The Snake Pit meets The Cell
Reviewed by KHL for Gothika at 2008-08-06 11:16:07
Not a really original idea, and the visuals are very reminiscent of The Cell, which was pretty groundbreaking visually and preceded this movie by 3 years. Although Berry is the "star" she pales in comparison to Cruz and Downey, Jr., who give great performances despite the lackluster script. OK to watch once, but pretty predictable Hollywood stuff.