A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this sci-fi action movie takes place in a bleak, ruined dystopian future. It's quite violent, with explosions, shootings, strangling, and more. There's also extensive discussion of nuclear attacks, genetic engineering, and refugee movements, as well as religious themes and imagery. Several characters are kept alive by high-tech machinery, and some scenes of surgery and medical processes are quite intense. Also expect swearing ("s--t," one use of "f--k"), product placement, and some drinking and smoking.
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What's the story?
BABYLON A.D. takes place in a near-future landscape in which world-weary mercenary Toorop (Vin Diesel) is hired to escort a young woman from a Mongolian monastery to New York. The young woman, Aurora (Melanie Thierry), is protected by Sister Rebeka (Michelle Yeoh). The trio sets out on their perilous journey -- as they approach New York, the sinister plans of the group behind the trip become increasingly clear.
Is it any good?
This movie is dark, dreary, and dull. Babylon A.D. has already been disavowed by director Mathieu Kassovitz, and it wasn't screened for critics in advance of its theatrical opening; these two facts alone should tell you a lot about how good it is in the final analysis. Diesel's brooding, bulky hero is a run-down recycling of characters he's played in other, better films like The Chronicles of Riddick and Pitch Black; he doesn't help the film any with his performance, stumbling through the film like a man with a hangover.
Babylon A.D. may have been intended as a rock-'em, sock-'em action film that examines important social and ethical issues, but the finished film plays like a series of bland, blurry action sequences with occasional breaks for pretentious posturing between explosions. All the special effects and stunt sequences thrown at the screen can't make up for the fact that it's a film with almost nothing to really say between the booms and bursts of bombs and gunfire.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the appeal of dark visions of the future. Are dystopian movies a way for us to process our anxieties about the present? In the movie's vision of the future, corporations have more control than governments; does the film's extensive use of corporate logos on screen warn against excess corporate power or represent it? Families can also discuss the challenges and concerns surrounding genetic engineering -- what ethical and moral complications does it pose for people now and in the future?
- In theaters: August 29, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: January 5, 2009
- Cast: Melanie Thierry, Michelle Yeoh, Vin Diesel
- Director: Mathieu Kassovitz
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of violence and action, language and some sexuality.
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