Trailer Of The Week: Babylon A.D.

Trailer of the Week is a little weekly column I plan on tackling from here on out that covers some really good movie trailers for films that might have gone under your radar. Sometimes, a film gets a kick ass trailer and ends up being complete garbage and vice versa. With Trailer of the Week, I plan on tackling film trailers of all genres, from romance and comedy to foreigns and horror.

I won’t have a time cap on it either, so expect films from the past ten to twenty years or even this past year. My goal is to introduce a variety of well-made trailers, for hopefully well made films, but that isn’t always the case. In addition to the trailer I hope to give the viewer a rundown on the film, from its box office success to its troubles getting financing. I want you to leave the post wanting to check out the film or at least having a sense of enjoyment from viewing the trailer. So sit back and strap in for the ride!

Back in the summer of 2008 came a little studio sci-fi film called Babylon A.D. Most people weren’t tracking it because of several delays and no promotion by its own director Mathieu Kassovitz, because Kassovitz and Fox Studios couldn’t agree on a damn thing. In an interview after Babylon A.D.‘s release, director Kassovitz said that the film was like a bad episode of the hit show 24 and that Fox wouldn’t let him shoot one scene the way he or the script wanted, this resulted in him disowning the project and Fox not really caring about it, which is a shame because on paper the film looked like it could work.

Finally, Vin Diesel chooses a project that looks more like Pitch Black than Fast and the Furious. I really wanted to like the film, mainly because I am a huge sci-fi buff, but also because Diesel was trying something different and a big studio like Fox was willing to back such a weird looking production. Babylon A.D. visually looked more like Blade Runner then anything, which sent some nostalgic chills down my spine. It had the futuristic landscape of big buildings and holograms with a rainy, dirty and grimy underworld, where the crooks and criminals gather.

The film is based on the book called Babylon Babies, which was written by Maurice G. Dantec and while I can’t comment on how faithful the film was since I haven’t read the novel, I can say that it looked like it had lots of ideas and directions it wanted to go in, but it never settled on one, resulting in a messy film with the blind leading the blind.

You could tell that the film wanted to be more of an adult oriented, possibly R-rated sci-fi that would tackle a lot of interesting ideas, but Fox wanted no part of that and instead ordered the editors to cut it down to PG-13, with more focus on random action sequences than the story. As a matter of fact, the whole last half an hour is one of the more confusing endings in recent history. It involves Toroop (Vin Diesel) leading the main characters down a street while brawling it out with soldiers. While Diesel is battling, the rest of the cast is just kind of wondering the streets. It was a really messy blur of a film, but it had one well cut trailer to its credit.

The trailer contains the epic song Lux Aeterna composed by Clint Mansell and made popular in the film Requiem for a Dream. That song, combined with some unique visuals and gritty action made for a very engaging and curious experience. The general story given was that Babylon A.D. is set in the future and it’s about a shady character named Toroop, played by Vin Diesel, who is looking for a simple job, but ends up getting more than he bargained for. Toorop is supposed to escort a girl to America and while doing so he discovers that she has some sort of special abilities and that there is more to her than meets the eye.

Top the trailer off with a few impressive action sequences that range from a snowmobile chase to an all-out street war and you got a film that looks like it may have a lot going for it. The trailer ends with an explosion going off around the girl and a big what the fuck moment follows! It leaves you with questions like who the hell is this girl and how did she get these powers and more importantly how is it all going to play out with Diesel’s character, who looks like he just wants the money and not the responsibility of being a babysitter for some science project.

Apparently not many people wanted to find out these answers because the film opened at the box office with $9.4 million, which dropped it in the number two spot. It closed in the U.S. with a small $22 million, and it made $49 million overseas, which made for a worldwide total of $72 million. That isn’t a bad number if the film had a small budget and wasn’t constantly getting delays and causing problems for everyone involved, but the production budget was $70 million, which means that barely any profit was made and it was considered a failure by all parties.

Later down the road an unrated cut surfaced on Blu-Ray and DVD, which was better than the theatrical cut, but marginally. I bet if Fox would have trusted Kassovitz then maybe we would have been given an entirely different film. The visuals were there and it looked like Diesel was actually trying, but what was shot just didn’t fit. The film wanted to tackle a unique sci-fi story, but never gave us any character development or cause.

It instead gave us some cool action sequences that felt short and unfocused, plus a very confusing and frustrating ending that again went in all directions. I think if a more seasoned director was on the project then maybe they could have handled the whole situation with Fox in a more mature manner or Fox could have just let Kassovitz do what he originally wanted. The blame is always going to be a mystery at this point. Maybe Kassovitz had nothing to give and Fox realized that.

The material was there, but the troubled production made for a doomed film from the first sign of struggle. At least we got a really well edited trailer that takes all of the highlights of the film and manages to make it all have a purpose. No need to sit through the dialogue or the muddled ending part, just watch the cool action, filled with futuristic visuals and a performance by Vin Diesel that is darker and more on par with Pitch Black!

I present to you the trailer for Babylon A.D. A film that had potential but ended up biting off more than it could chew! Enjoy the trailer and feel free to leave a comment suggesting what the next edition should be or what you thought of this week’s!

Previous Week: The Wackness