Babylon (2022) Review
A MAGNIFICENT DISASTER
Stephen Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, and Christopher Nolan are just some of the names of such legendary directors that have graced the silver screen in their abilities to create such memorable motion pictures throughout their career. Amongst these famed directors that have earned their place from the commonplace household to hallowed halls of Hollywood, director Damien Chazelle amassed by small catalogue of feature films, yet speaks volumes through his directing and the shaping of theatrical movie endeavors. While his directorial debut film Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench in 2009 wasn’t exactly the “next big thing” that put him on the map in Hollywood, Chazelle make splash on the industry with his release of the psychological drama Whiplash in 2014, which won several awards and made numerous Top Ten movies lists of 2014. Several years later, Chazelle returned for third directorial feature with 2017’s La La Land, a tribute to the classic Hollywood movies and the power of following one’s passion / dreams. La La Land received universal acclaim by critics and moviegoers, became a box office success, and garnished several awards / nominations during the award season. In 2018, Chazelle took to the stars, the space race, and the cinematic representation of astronaut Neil Armstrong in the movie First Man. Despite the box office disappointment results, First Man did receive praise from critics / positive reviews as well as several nominations throughout the award season. Now, almost four years since the release of First Man, Paramount Pictures and director Damien Chazelle present the fourth film from the talented director with the release of the movie titled Babylon. Does this latest project from Chazelle shine brightly in amongst its ambitious and acting talent or is debauchery and messy endeavor that bites off more than it can cinematically chew?
The silver screening is dazzling viewers with treatment of cinematic silent movies that are all the rage in Hollywood, with Tinseltown bursting with life, talent, and decadence. Big show screen star Jack Conrad (Brad Pitt) is living his best life, burning through a rolodex of female partners, while maintaining a steady career and box office draw. Nellie LaRoy (Margot Robbie) is a women from New Jersey who’s desperate to become a “big” in Hollywood, utilizing her street smarts and brassy style to make a major impression on those in charge, quickly becoming a star actress when she’s finally given the chance to shine. Manny Torres (Diego Calva) is a young man with industry aspirations and climbs the ladder of interworking of Hollywood, while maintaining focus on Nellie, which causes problems throughout his rising career. As time change and the Hollywood industry begins to shift into new ways of cinematic storytelling through its motion pictures, the lives of Jack, Nellie, and Manny witness the changing of the guard of the era by facing struggles, triumphs, and personal reflections upon themselves and their legacies.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
With so many directors out there (both old and new), it’s hard to pinpoint ones that are particular memorable. To be honest, I really don’t have a particular favorite one, but rather a collective group of recognizable directors that have indeed been around for some time and have made their “personal mark” on the film industry. Of course, the ones that I mentioned above certainly make that list and (to be honest) a lot of their work speaks for themselves and their credibility for delivering such iconic / memorable feature films is quite a cinematic treat. Basically, every time they make a movie…it creates / generates a lot of buzz about the project. In the case of Damien Chazelle, the same piece of cloth of excitement and intrigue. Naturally, he doesn’t have the same type of large number of directorial feature films to his name (at the current moment of this review), but his work certainly speaks for itself and has cultivated in some fine cinematic storytelling. While I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing his first film Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, my first experience of Chazelle’s work was in his sophomore in 2014’s Whiplash, which provide some great on-screen character acting from both actors Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons. 2016, Chazelle’s La La Land was (to me) a great “homage” to the flavor of the silver screen in Hollywood’s heyday of musical / dancing; a sort of celebration of the days of Fred Astaire and Jean Kelly endeavors. It was magical, colorful, and told a great story of young love and the promise of following a dream. 2018’s First Man was another great win for Chazelle, with the feature showcasing an interesting side to Neil Armstrong and the whole “space race” with NASA’s Apollo 11 mission. There were a few minor gripes I had with the project, and I can see why some people didn’t particular care for the movie as much as others, which is probably why the movie wasn’t a huge financial success, but it was still a great addition to the director’s catalogue. All in all, I think that Chazelle certainly has made a name for himself throughout the past decade, with his feature film endeavors bring great cinematic and theatrical storytelling to the silver screen with a unique take on characters and plot.
This brings me back around to talking about Babylon, a 2022 comedy / drama epic and the fifth film from director Damien Chazelle. After the critical reception for 2018’s First Man, many wondered (including myself) what Chazelle’s next project was going to be about and when it was going to be released. Well, the years sort of went by and not much talk about the director’s upcoming movie was talked about online. That was until a few snippets began to appear that his next project would be one quite a long epic and would be talk about the days of Old Hollywood, focusing on the wild extravagant lifestyle of actors, directors, and producers of the late 20s / early 30s of that era. Reports from online then began to surface with Chazelle’s upcoming feature being quite an epic piece of filmmaking, especially with a lengthy runtime of near three hours long. Quite ambitious, in my opinion, especially since studios rarely nowadays don’t usually like director to create films that long…. save for superhero blockbusters. Within time, the film’s movie trailer began to appear in cinemas during the “coming attractions” preview reel and I definitely was intrigued by the movie. From the trailer alone, the plot looked a bit vague, but it seemed like it was going to be following several individuals (as seeing with the film’s recognizable cast) and their personal lives in this particular time period in Hollywood…. both good and bad. It looked to be quite the “wild ride” throughout its depiction, and I knew Chazelle’s past endeavors would bear the fruit of this labor. So, while I still had a few reservations about the project, I was kind of interested to see Babylon when it was set to be released on December 23rd, 2022. This was even further brought to the forefront of my mind when early / advance reviews of the Chazelle’s latest feature came out, with the opinions on it being very divided. Some really liked it, while others downright hated it. So, with my love of cinematic storytelling, I was more interested now (more than ever) to see Babylon and share my thoughts on it. I did actually see the movie during its opening weekend, but, due to my work schedule been so busy, I had to delay getting my review out a few weeks. Just at least until everything settled down. Well, it is that time now and I’m finally ready to share my “two cents” on Damien Chazelle’s Babylon. And what did I think of it? Well, unfortunately, I have to agree with the viewers who walked away from this film with a sour taste in their mouths. Despite an amazing production quality and presentation as well as several nuances of dealing / working in “Old Hollywood”, Babylon is a messy and elongated feature that seems to meander through storyline threads in a tiresome and unfocused way. Combined with bland bits, confusion moments, and too much “shock and awe” gross out scenes, Chazelle’s latest directorial outing is disappointing one….and that’s such a shame.
While the movie has wrong with it, there are several important parts that Babylon does excel in, with Chazelle bring forth his most ambitious project to date within Babylon’s undertaking and overall execution. This is made especially clear by the film’s very lengthy runtime, which can be seeing as both good and bad for the movie itself (more on that below). As for the positives, it shows that Chazelle means to showcase a very layered and dramatic epic feeling in his feature film of which he clearly demonstrates. To that end, Chazelle is concise on what he wants to say about his film, with the project by a lot of nuances and references to “life and times” of this unique age of old Hollywood era. To me, this was the best part of the entire film, especially since Chazelle encompasses majority of the film around the idea of filmmaking, movie stars, and the revelry of this particular time in Hollywood. To be sure, Babylon is indeed a joyous and boisterous (if sometimes explicit) look into the lives of moviemaking during this time, with a chaotic spree of working all day and devilish charm of pleasure at night, showcasing the decadence that this culture had during the late 20s. This is brilliantly done and imagined during the film’s first act, with Chazelle relishing such opportunity to display such wild frenzy through parties, sex, drugs, and making motion pictures.
Of course, the movie itself isn’t all revelry and drugs, for Chazelle does an interesting job in presenting throughout Babylon the “life” of making movies during this time, which showcases the chaotic (and sometimes haphazard) production of making a silent movie to the more taxing and demanding productions of a making a “talkie” feature. In a nutshell, the culture shifting of Hollywood during this time period is sort of the “bread and butter” of Babylon, with Chazelle demonstrating the importance of such things and how it could easily affect it. In the end, whether you loved the film or not, there is no denying the fact that Chazelle’s Babylon is a sort of “love letter” to that age of Hollywood and a homage to actors, filmmakers, and production teams of that era.
While the movie has its faults within its narrative construction (and overall execution of them), Chazelle, who pulls double duty on the movie as both director and writer, makes Babylon’s themes are indeed palpable with some important messages about live and legacy throughout the plot. The movie itself is an allegory about the chance and missteps a person can take (or not take) through the course of their lives and in their professional lives. Babylon gives insight into several individuals as we (the viewers) witness their own personal struggles and triumphs as they make their way through Hollywood’s rocky road of stardom and fame. The film does also showcase how one person could be at the top of their game in one moment, only to find themselves “scrapping the bottom of the barrel” in a blink of an eye. Chazelle’s metaphors in Babylon about living life and changing / adapting through such ever-changing moments in the world is something that is universal and could easily be extrapolated to today’s world. Additionally, the idea of leaving behind a legacy (long after an individual is gone) also further drives that particular notion home and shows the movies themselves (the characters and stories being told therein) will last far longer and will continue to find meaning in the generations to come. A cinematic legacy…. if you will.
For its presentation, Babylon is perhaps the most lavishing, detailed, and eye-catching production that Chazelle’s endeavors (as of this date). While the movie does have its fair share of problems, there is no denying the fact that the production quality for this Hollywood drama is solid all the way around, with such intricate detail of the film’s timeline era, which is the circa late 20s to early 30s. Such depictions of Tinseltown is dripping with such lavishness and glamour, with Chazelle’s glitzy and rambunctious portrayal of “Old Hollywood” of that age is such a vibrant world. That’s not to say that everything in the movie is fashionable and opulent (of which some scenes are shown), but Chazelle also brings a very “life like” realism to such imagery of the filmmaking world of the time period as well as the grimy and seedy underbelly that Los Angeles underworld, which showcased such vile and creepiness that lurks in the shadows, a somewhat contrast to the grandeur. Still, whether in darkness or light, the production presented throughout the movie is quite good through many of the feature’s set designs, costumes, and set decoration in such a detailed and intricate way. Thus, the movie’s “behind the scenes” key players, including Florencia Martin (production design), Ace Eure, Anthony D. Parrillo, Jason Perrine, and Eric Sundahl (art direction), Anthony Carlino (set decorations), and Mary Zophres (costume design), should be praised for their efforts in making Babylon’s visual look and appeal both genuine and cinematic at the same time. Speaking of cinematics, the film’s cinematography work by Linus Sandgren is fantastic throughout the entire film; offering up some unique and slick usage of camera angles, lightning, and shadowing effects to make Babylon’s world come alive with such cinematic brilliance. Lastly, the film’s score, which was composed by Justin Hurwitz, is also quite good throughout the movie. Of course, the composition has the right number of theatrical flourishes through poignant moments to quieter character dialogue scenes, but Hurtwitz’s score also has the influences of the big bandstand of the jazz era, which appropriate fits into Chazelle’s drama epic of old Hollywood.
Unfortunately, Babylon, despite the ambition and grandeur that Chazelle wants to convey in his latest film, ends up biting off more than it can chew, with several large (and glaring) points of criticism that weight the film down. How so? Well, for starters, the movie is quite long in its undertaking and definitely didn’t need to be. The feature clocks in at around 188 minutes (three hours and three minutes) long, there is no denying the fact that Babylon is quite a long project to sit through. While the justification for such lengthy endeavors can be warranted through sheer massive scale and scope of the feature’s narrative (i.e., Avengers: Endgame, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Ten Commandments, etc.), Chazelle’s Hollywood character drama doesn’t exactly need / require the prolonged theatrical duration and ends up being quite the “filler” of many, many sequences scattered throughout the picture. This is clearly to be seeing in the movie’s opening scene, which sort of sets the stage for what is to come in the film’s depiction of Hollywood elitism decadence, but it just goes on and on for way too long. Heck, even the feature’s opening title doesn’t appear until more than a half an hour into the movie. Further examination into the project also shows that Chazelle, while clear in what movie he wants to tell, overextends the movie with such bloated and excessive weight, with the final product of the movie could’ve been easily trimmed down a good thirty to forty minutes for a tighter, yet still impactful tale to be told. Basically, Babylon just runs way too long (for its own good) and Chazelle, much like his characters, gets lost within his own dreams and ambitions, while losing sight of what’s actually in front of him.
Because of this, Babylon has a lot of moments where the feature is sort of unbalanced in what it wants to explore in and out of its various character, most importantly in the three main lead protagonists that story follows the most. With so much going on (for the film’s camera lens focuses on), the various players in Chazelle’s magus opus epic gets lost, with sometime focusing on one particular character far too long and neglecting the importance of the others until later on. This unbalanced of character screen-time and development plays a part in Babylon’s criticism, with the script, while crystal in what it wants to speak towards, ends up getting quite lost and uneven throughout. Naturally, this makes a lot of the movie feel a bit tedious and almost boring at times, especially with the amount of excessiveness going on. Such navigation tricks could’ve been easily employed to help build up more tension or development for its character to have more well-roundedness, but Chazelle doesn’t exactly do that and just keeps piling on superfluous details and unnecessary moments to fill out his movie. Additionally, a problem of this aspect of Babylon plays in part of the writing itself, which is sometimes good and solid, but other times seems quite predictable and lazy at times. With a sharper pencil…. Chazelle could’ve made the film that much better, with witty dialogue and understanding of the characters littered throughout the picture. In truth, I think that Chazelle should’ve translated Babylon’s story into a limited TV series / TV miniseries format instead of a theatrical feature film endeavor. By doing this, Chazelle could’ve allowed the narrative to breath by removing the constraints of a motion picture framework and could’ve been able to explore more aspect of the story, the culture of Hollywood, and better character development in both major and minor subplots.
Another problem that I had with, which might be a minor complaint for some, but it was a big one for me…. was the over usage of such raunchy depictions. I, for one, am not offended by such imagery as I’ve seeing it in plenty of feature films and TV series programs, but it sort of has to be warranted and / or justifiable to incorporate such images of raunchy / grossed out moments. That being said, Babylon sort of doesn’t and ends up being just a weak attempt for some type of “wow” factor throughout. Such scenes are simply too gross for my taste (one involving a elephant at the beginning of the film) and, while it creates that “shock and awe” feeling, just creates a bad and disgusting way for Chazelle to get his point across.
The third act of the film also become problematic as it takes a somewhat detour in the narrative being told in the movie’s first two acts. While the beginning and middle portion of Babylon is presented in showcasing the glitzy, glamour, and rambunctiousness that Hollywood has to offer, Chazelle veers completely off into some bizarre and obscure territory. I vaguely understand, especially since the movie does focus on two of the three main characters during this point, but it sort of ends up being a bit too dark, unsettling, and distracting from the main story being told. It’s as if Chazelle had an idea for the film’s third act, but decided to change up. It’s just quite jarring to me and, while the macabre and uncomfortableness of this part plays up to “sign of the times” underworld in Hollywood, it just ends up being too much of a curve ball that deviates from what could’ve been. Thus, I wasn’t a fan of much of Babylon’s third act.
Lastly, the movie’s ending drags on way too long. I do get, appreciate, and understanding of the symbolism that Chazelle wanted to covey in Babylon’s final moments, but it just seem to drag on and on. That artistic flourishes and dramatic poise definitely lends cinematic nuances to the proceedings, but the last seven or eight minutes felt really dragged out and tedious. Again, I get it what Chazelle envisioned, but it comes off as too distracting, especially when the film’s finality flashes modern and abstract arts depictions, which I don’t fully get. It’s as if Chazelle need justification to have the feature run longer and threw in such wonky imagery. Basically, the ending of Babylon does find meaning (loved the flashes of popular films and movies throughout the future decades), but feels too long, boring, and overextends the movie with such a bland taste.
The cast in Babylon is indeed an expansive one, with a wide range of familiar / recognizable acting talent that have been assembled for this Hollywood drama epic. That being said, while it was enjoyable to see all the actors and actresses in the film, there character (sometimes) feels rather clunky or missed out on some type of involvement in Babylon’s grand scheme of the rise and fall of talent during this era. For the most part, Chazelle and his team focuses on the narrative threads that surround the film’s main trio of characters, which includes the young and upcoming actress Nellie LaRoy, the rising man in the “Hollywood business” world Manny Torres, and the popular / seasoned actor Jack Conrad, who are played by actress Margot Robbie, and actor Diego Calva and Brad Pitt respectfully. Let’s examine each of these narrative threads. Much like her character in the film, Robbie, who is known for her roles in Suicide Squad, Amsterdam, and The Wolf on Wall Street, has indeed become a rising star in today’s Hollywood, appearing in many high profile feature films of late and solidified her status in Tinseltown. She does so again with her portrayal of Nellie LaRoy, a young and brash upcoming actress who wants her ”big break” in Hollywood’s fame. True enough, much of the movie focuses on her character, which almost makes Nellie the true main star of Chazelle’s Babylon, especially since we (the viewers) watch her “rise and fall” in her career. Robbie definitely embraces spunk and determination through her nuances portrayals of Nellie in the beginning and then levels of frustration and aimlessness when things begin to take over and her career starts to turn in a different direction. She’s definitely the focal point of the movie (there is no denying that), and I think that Robbie does a good job in that role. There could’ve been more to her character in the second act (i.e. more depth, more substance), but I felt that she was the most developed as we (the viewer) follow her journey from onset to conclusion.
Likewise, the character of Manny Torres is another pivotal character that we follow throughout the movie and finding his “rise” in Hollywood within his character arc as the narrative progresses. While not as household / recognizable name amongst his costars, Calva, who is known for his roles in Bonded, The Inmate, and I Promise You Anarchy, does showcase a good dose of eagerness and willingness in Manny’s journey throughout the series of events that occur in Babylon’s story, which sees his character takes opportune chance to build his legacy in Hollywood. He’s almost like the “outside person looking in” as his character conveys both the chaotic madness and business dealings with dealing with problematic events and proposes from actors / studio executives. Perhaps the big downside to Manny is that his character (as written) has a lot of underdevelopment throughout the main plot. Mostly, he just runs around doing various stuff / tasks in the first half, which doesn’t offer much interest, with more focus put on Nellie and Jack. Even when the story focus more on Manny (towards the latter half), he becomes a bit more important, but still lacks a fully understanding, which loses the impactful meaning of the character. Still, I think that Calva did a pretty good job, despite how the character was written.
The last of the main trio is that the character of Jack Conrad, with Pitt, who is known for his roles in Fight Club, 12 Monkeys, and Moneyball, able to almost “ham it up” perfectly as the sometimes arrogant and self-confident “big ticketed” star. To be sure, Pitt is having fun playing such a role and definitely is great embodiment of the character; finding his portrayal of Conrad to his liking. It’s not really a role that would challenge Pitt’s acting capability nor his most memorable performance in his career, but he surely encompasses such “larger than life” bravado as the big time actor of the silent movies. Plus, he does get a few laughs in an around the movie. That being said, the character of Jack Conrad sort of feels like the “third wheel” of the main trio, especially with Robbie’s Nellie and Calva’s Manny taking more of the primary focus of the feature. Yes, Conrad is important during the beginning of the film, but, as the story progresses, the script start weed out his character’s importance, despite having a large importance in the ”changing of the guard” in Hollywood. Of course, Pitt is up to it and his screen presence and charisms clearly shows that, but, in truth, I believe that the character of Jack Conrad could’ve been eliminated from Babylon’s final cut and still retain the same fundamentals that Chazelle was looking for in this lengthy drama.
Another character that also seems to be having mixed feelings about is found in the character James McKay, a seedy and dangerous crime boss that becomes mixed up with Nellie’s affairs, and who is played by actor Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man and The Great Gatsby). I don’t discredit the acting that Maguire does with the character, which is definitely creepy and unsettling (that was attention) and I think pulls it off great. My problem with the character James McKay is that he doesn’t quite fit correctly into Babylon’s narrative, especially since he comes towards the very end (one of the last important characters) to be introduced and just feels like an unnecessary, tacked on plot point.
As stated, the movie heavily focuses on the threads of Jack, Nellie, and Manny throughout much of the feature’s lengthy runtime, which is disappointing because the next group of characters seemed like they were in need of more screen time and had a far better storyline plot to follow on in Babylon’s tale. Such characters like Sidney Palmer, an African American jazz trumpet player who gets his chance at stardom, yet faces controversy during that rise, Lady Fay Zhu, an exotic Asian entertainer whose sexual frivolities and display gets shunned by the changing attitude in Hollywood, and Elinor St. John, a seasoned Hollywood journalist who has more insight on the ever changing landscape of Hollywood than everyone else, who are played by actor Jovan Adepo (The Leftovers and Fences) and actresses Li Jun Li (Modern Persuasion and Quantico) and Jean Smart (Hacks and Youth in Revolt) respectfully. Of course, the acting performances from Adepo, Li, and Smart are very dynamic and well-rounded, which lends the credibly to their characters, which makes it that much more the shame that these particular individuals weren’t fully expanded upon in the film. The potential is there and actually delve into some great “meaty” character / story substance that the script could’ve sunk its teeth into for some more diverse / intriguing character growth and / or evolution to explore within these three roles. Unfortunately, they mostly get sidelined in the movie and are interwoven (in minor capacity) throughout the main trio’s storylines, which (again) is the most disappointing aspect and such a wasted of a missed opportunity.
The rest of the cast, including actor Rory Scovel (I Feel Pretty and Robbie) as shifty “on-set” dealer named The Count, actor Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight and Inherent Vice) as Nellie’s father Robert Roy, actress Samara Weaving (Snake Eyes and Bill & Ted Face the Music) as the rival actress to Nellie Constance Moore, actress Olivia Wilde (Don’t Worry Darling and Rush) as Jack’s ex-wife Ina Conrad, actress Katherine Waterson (Steve Jobs and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) as Jack’s second wife Estelle, actress Olivia Hamilton (First Man and Hold Fast, Good Luck) as film director Ruth Adler, actor P.J. Byrne (The Wolf on Wall Street and Bombshell) as Ruth assistant director Max, actor Lukas Haas (Witness and The Revenant) as George Munn, actor Max Minghella (Social Network and The Internship) as Irving Thalberg, director / producer Spike Jonze (Jackass: The Movie and Her) as German film director Otto Von Strassberger, actor Cutty Cuthbert (Brooklyn Knight and Apology Day) as Jimmy, actor Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm and Wall-E) as studio executive Don Wallach, musician / actor Flea (Baby Driver and Obi-Wan Kenobi) as Bob Levine, actor Ethan Suplee (The Butterfly Effect and Remember the Titans) as Wilson, actor Telvin Griffin (Night Into Day and The Bold and the Beautiful) as Reggie, actress Chloe Fineman (Saturday Night Live and Men Don’t Whisper) as Marion Davies, actress Phoebe Tonkin (Bait and Tomorrow, When the War Began) as Jane Thornton, actor Troy Metcalf (The Middle and Baskets) as Orville Pickwick, actress Jennifer Grant (Savage and Movie Stars) as Mildred Yates, actor Patrick Fugit (Almost Famous and Robert the Bruce) as Officer Elwood, actor Pat Skipper (Bosch and The X-Files) as William Randolph Hearst, actress Kaia Gerber (American Horror Story and The Great Gatsby Live Read!) as Starlet, actress Karen Bethzabe (Listen and Death and Cremation) as Silvia Torres, actress Sarah Ramos (Ask for Jane and The Boy Downstairs) as Harriet Rothschild, actor Alexandre Chen (The Hit and Insight) as James Wong Howe, and actress Taylor Hill (Good on Paper and The Broken Hearts Gallery) as Rebecca, are delegated to minor supporting characters in the movie. With such sprawling cast to explore and come in and out of Babylon’s narrative, most of these particular characters only have anywhere between one / two scenes to a handful of scenes in the film. Nevertheless, most (if not all) of these acting talents do give solid performances, despite their limited screen time or (a few) underdeveloped character motives, with most just having one-type of character personas. True enough, some do warrant further expansion and, given the movie’s incredibly long runtime, could’ve easily done so.
Decadence, debauchery, and dreams clash and collide in an expansive tale of finding fame and fortune in Tinseltown and the pitfalls that follow in the movie Babylon. Director Damien Chazelle’s latest film takes a look at the wild and glitzy era of late 20s / 30s of Hollywood by following several character threads through their struggles and triumphs in following their passions and making an impact on the industry’s legacy. Unfortunately, while Chazelle’s vision (and scope) is epic and ambitious and the movie does have a story to tell as well as having an amazing production value (set-pieces, décor, costumes, hair / make-up, etc.), the rest of the movie falters underneath that own ambitions, especially in the direction for the movie, the gross out moments, excessive runtime length, lost subplots, cumbersome (and clunky) third act, predictable nuances, lazy writing, and weak characters, and underutilized / mismanagement of acting talent involved. Personally, I was disappointed with this movie. Yes, there are some elements that I did like in its subplot narrative and the themes of “changing times” in Hollywood as well as the solid production quality of the feature. That being said, the rest of the movie was totally loud, abrasive, messy, wonky, and a meandering misfire. It was a sprawling epic, but not in the good way, and, despite everyone involved from the cast and director attached to the project, that’s the disappointing part. Thus, my recommendation for this movie is a dispirited “skip it”, for I can clearly see the potential of Chazelle’s vision for this movie, but it gets lost within its own narrative. In the end, Babylon has such aspiring ambitions in its way of cinematic storytelling within its characters, its tale being told, and a love letter to the ”Old Hollywood” dream, but sadly ends up being a sorely beautiful disaster.
2.4 Out of 5 (Skip It)
Released On: December 23rd, 2023
Reviewed On: February 6th, 2023
Babylon is 188 minutes long and is rated R for for strong and crude sexual content, graphic nudity, bloody violence, drug use, and pervasive language