Babylon (Steelbook) [4K Ultra HD]
Director: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Diego Calva
Release Date: March 21, 2023
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 8/10
Disc Rating: 8/10
BABYLON follows an ambitious cast of characters — The Silent Film Superstar (Brad Pitt), the Young Starlet (Margot Robbie), the Production Executive (Diego Calva), the Musical Sensation (Jovan Adepo) and the Alluring Powerhouse Performer (Li Jun Li) — who are striving to stay on top of the raucous, 1920s Hollywood scene and maintain their relevance at a time when the industry is moving on to the next best thing.
Please Note: Paramount Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
‘Babylon’ invites you to witness the chaotic world of 1920’s Los Angeles; a time filled with wild parties, excessive drug use and debauchery back when the world of silent film still reigned and those who were known could get away with nearly anything. The film follows a group of individuals including a silent film star, an aspiring new actress and a Production Executive whose lives all begin to transform in one manner or another as talkies begin to overtake the cinematic landscape leaving the silent films that reigned prior in the dust, along with anyone that is unable to make the transition for one reason or another.
Written and directed by Damien Chazelle (La La Land, Whiplash) who does an impressive job at the helm of ‘Babylon’ guiding along all of the beauty, insanity and chaos of the time that it showcases. The film also features a noteworthy cast that includes Brad Pitt (The Lost City), Margot Robbie (Amsterdam), Diego Calva (TV’s Narcos: Mexico), Jean Smart (TV’s Hacks), Jovan Adepo (TV’s The Stand), Li Jun Li (TV’s Evil), Lukas Haas (First Man), Eric Roberts (TV’s The Righteous Gemstones), Max Minghella (Spiral: From the Book of Saw), Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man: No Way Home) and many more, with nearly all offering solid, capable and fitting performances for the most part in each of their respective roles.
‘Babylon’ is a wild, graphic and extravagant look at the raucous and carefree world of Hollywood in the 1920’s beginning with the final years of the silent film era’s reign and the introduction of talkies which led to unexpected change and for some a panic, or flat out inability to adapt to the new medium that would quickly alter the landscape of the motion picture industry forever. The film follows a collection of individuals within the film industry and chronicles the way their lives change as a result of the new world of film, leading some to thrive more than ever while others struggle to adapt, unable to find a place within. ‘Babylon’ may occasionally become lost in its excess and not every storyline is brought to a perfect conclusion or noteworthy event, but the wild, chaotic and sometimes jumbled approach of the film also matches what’s occurring onscreen surprisingly well and if not intentional, it certainly fits together in a curiously splendid way.
‘Babylon’ is a very different type of film than we typically see in a wide release and it certainly won’t be for everyone due to both its length which clocks in at just over three hours, but more specifically for just how far it goes in showcasing the debauchery and sexually rampant behavior that accompanied this wild time in the industry. As a fitting example, the film opens with some folks trying to transport an elephant which concludes with the elephant graphically defecating on those involved for a lengthy amount of time prior to showcasing a wild party for over twenty minutes which is littered with extremely graphic nudity and what many might consider unconventional sex acts occurring, complemented with literal piles of drugs all before even arriving at the film’s title card just over thirty minutes in, and it doesn’t get a whole lot tamer going forward with hundreds of f-bombs, graphic nudity, drug use and even some notably bloody violence (not to mention a full on multi-level BDSM dungeon that we’re later guided through with a couple characters) before reaching its conclusion. If that’s a bit too much for your taste, then this one is probably best skipped, but if such content doesn’t overly trouble you then this one is well worth checking out thanks to its remarkably talented cast, truly stunning costumes and set designs as well as offering an intriguing look at one of the biggest changes to ever affect the world of cinema.
Overall, ‘Babylon’ is an intriguing look at one of the most outrageous times in Hollywood and showcases the final days of the silent film era and the beginning of talkies overtaking the industry that never shies away from the graphic, sex and drug-fueled insanity and debauchery that accompanied it. Those who are bothered by notably graphic sexual content and nudity that goes far beyond what we often see in theatrical films with plenty of drug use and some unsettling violence accompanying it may want to skip this one, but for those of you that aren’t bothered by such things (or the 3 plus hour runtime) ‘Babylon’ is recommended. It’s a unique, wild, fascinating and occasionally disturbing tale that’s boosted by great direction from talented filmmaker Damien Chazelle, not to mention a talented cast led by Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie and Diego Calva, as well as a beautiful approach that features some breathtaking sets and costumes throughout.
The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release of ‘Babylon’ features a full 2160p Ultra High Definition presentation with Dolby Vision and HDR-10, presented in its original 2.39:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks truly spectacular across the board and delivers a marvelously sharp, clean and vibrantly detailed presentation from start to finish that retains a gorgeous filmic appearance and never suffers from any faults to be uncovered throughout. It delivers everything within immaculately from character outfits, facial details and backgrounds to the landscapes, sets and everything else which all look spectacular with a clear improvement in detail and clarity compared to the Blu-ray. The Dolby Vision addition only perfects upon it all and contributes a gorgeous color palette that never disappoints and is only further complemented by deep, seemingly endless blacks that appear to be absent of any crush or other potential issues. Overall, this is a magnificent Ultra High Definition video presentation that should have fans and newcomers alike thoroughly impressed.
The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release features a Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel compatible) soundtrack. Please note that this review pertains solely to the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio presentation. This multichannel soundtrack provides a clean, crisp and notably immersive audio presentation throughout. It repeatedly utilizes all seven available channels in order to send music, crowd chatter, nature content and some action and vehicle effects, plus a great deal more regularly moving throughout the various speakers at every fitting opportunity, while still making certain that any dialogue or other audio elements that might be occurring simultaneously all remain clean and fully audible every step of the way. Overall, this is a great Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible) soundtrack that more than delivers in every way required of it and shouldn’t disappoint in the slightest.
The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release of ‘Babylon’ includes a few worthwhile extras which can all be found on the included Blu-ray Bonus Disc. Included on the release are a handful of ‘Deleted and Extended Scenes’ from the film (running approximately 9 minutes in length altogether) along with a few Behind the Scenes Featurettes that explore bringing the film to life and featuring interviews/comments with the cast and crew, plus behind the scenes footage and more. The included Featurettes are ‘A Panoramic Canvas Called Babylon’ (running approximately 31 minutes), ‘The Costumes of Babylon’ (approximately 3 minutes) and ‘Scoring Babylon’ (approximately 2 minutes).
The 4K UHD Steelbook release of ‘Babylon’ (which was the version sent from the studio for review) features alternate artwork and a nice sturdy and glossy Steelbook case, as well as including a Blu-ray copy of the film. The film will also be available in a standard 4K UHD release (although no Blu-ray copy of the film is included).
*Please note that the above images are taken from the Blu-Ray disc included in the 4K UHD Steelbook Combo Pack and resized. They do not represent the quality of the 4K Ultra HD disc itself and will additionally suffer quality loss as a result of .jpg compression. Larger versions of each image can be viewed by clicking on the image. All images and content included on the 4K UHD & Blu-Ray release are the property of their respective owners.
Film Rating: 8/10
Disc Rating: 8/10
‘Babylon’ Arrives Home on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & DVD March 21, 2023 & is Now Available on Digital from Paramount Home Entertainment
*Screen-Connections.com is an Amazon Associate that earns from qualifying purchases