REVIEW: Excess and indulgence: ‘Babylon’

“Babylon” might be the single most over-hyped, expensive piece of junk to hit theaters post-COVID. In a time where streamers are thriving, and theaters need saving, “Babylon” hurts. ‘Babylon’ is a disaster.

Margot Robbie and Diego Calva in ‘Babylon.’ COURTESY / SCOT GARFIELD / PARAMOUNT PICTURES

At the height of silent movies in Los Angeles in 1926, Mexican migrant Manuel “Manny” Torres (Diego Calva) wants to join the business. Slowly but surely, he makes his way up. But through drugs, crimes, and failed friendships, he’s dragged down again. He can’t help himself.

“Whiplash,” “La La Land,” “First Man,” and “Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench” director Damien Chazelle, a Harvard graduate, has only seen acclaim in his career. While ‘Whiplash, when first out, was exciting and promising, ‘Babylon’ is straight Oscar bait. It’s a failure.

The characters are trainwrecks. But not the kinds of trainwrecks which are interesting. Not the anti-heroes or the lovable psychopaths of the American New Wave, which you might be expecting. Although Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt, and Calva, among the rest of the cast (including Jeff Garlin and Tobey Maguire), do their best, their characters’ arcs are so disinteresting and predictable you will not find them engaging in the slightest.

There are a few spare good moments. The actors do their best with the material. Babylon is well-lit, well-shot, and tightly scored. But it’s asinine in the edit. This film could have been much tighter. Note to self: make sure that an edit truly compliments a given.
Babylon doesn’t work. It’s a shame.

If you’re going to tell a story, make sure you have a few more under your belt before making it meta. “Babylon” lacks an effective engine and screams pretension because of it. Save your time here. 1/5.

Gavin King is an MHS graduate and a senior in film production at the University of Southern California.

Gavin King
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