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Babylon 4K UHD Steelbook Review

“Babylon” is bound to become a cult favorite.  

Set in the late 20’s to the early 50’s, the Los Angeles set “Babylon” begins in the silent film era and focuses on a group of 5 core characters- Manny (a Mexican man who works his way up the Hollywood ladder), Nellie (a wild child wannabe star with real acting talent), Lady Fay Zhu (a lesbian Chinese-American cabaret singer), Sidney (an African-American jazz trumpet player) and Jack (a movie star who struggles with a post-silent film world).

If there’s one word that best describes the work of writer/director Damien Chazelle’s work it’s “energetic” and that certainly applies to 2022’s “Babylon.” From start to finish, Chazelle’s latest jazz soaked film (with another splendid score by Damien’s right hand music man Justin Hurtwitz) is a wild, bold, and, yes, energetic film with a lot on its mind. Although it owes a lot to “Singin’ In The Rain” (which it references) and even “Boogie Nights” to a degree, there’s a lot going on here thematically as it explores change, the evolution of the film industry from silent films to talkies, adjustment, being discarded by time and progress, fame, class, and the magic and seedy side of Hollywood. The 188 minute film does not play like one would expect (especially from the dreadful marketing) and it hits hard in surprisingly emotional ways. 

Judging by the poor box office and the mixed reviews, it’s safe to say this ensemble tale isn’t for everyone. Some might be put off by the debauchery while others will embrace Chazelle’s big gamble in an era where IP and franchise rule. Personally speaking, this was easily one of 2022’s best films precisely because it is so unapologetically in your face. It’s a refreshing change of pace from the norm these days and it’s the type of movie that reminds you why you love movies (all while telling a story about moviemaking). 

In a movie full of stars, it’s a risk to make a relative unknown the lead, but that’s exactly what happened here with Diego Calva as Manny and what a find he is. Not only is he great in the lead role, but his chemistry with everyone (especially Margot Robbie) is on point. Speaking of Robbie, she goes all in here with a gleefully over-the-top and commanding performance as Nellie. Brad Pitt also shines with a complex and often internalized performance as Jack. Although it would have been nice to perhaps see more scenes with their characters, Jovan Adepo and Li Jun Li turn in impressive performances as Sidney and Lady Fay Zhu respectively. Elsewhere in the film, expect to see tons of stories in roles of varying degree from the likes of Spike Jonze, Olivia Wilde, Tobey Maguire (as a creepy gangster), Flea, Eric Roberts, Samara Weaving, Katherine Waterson, among others.


Presentation: 2.39:1 2160p With HDR10. How does it look? A quality 4K transfer that especially shines in exterior scenes.

Audio Track: Dolby Atmos. How does it sound? From the thumping score to the raucous parties, this Atmos track is a winner. 

* Blu-ray copy
* Digital copy
* 4 deleted scenes and 2 extended scenes.
* “Scoring Babylon”- A very brief featurette on Justin Hurwitz’s score.
* “The Costumes Of Babylon”- The title says it all. Another short featurette.
* “A Panoramic Canvas Called Babylon”- The biggest and best extra is a half-hour behind-the-scenes look at the ambitious production and the sprawling story. Interviews, set footage and film clips are included.


March 9, 2023 - Posted by | 4K UHD Review | , , , , , , ,

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