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Babylon IMAX Review: Alarming Maximalist Filmmaking


Nick Clement brings us his thoughts on the brand new Damien Chazelle movie starring Margot Robbie, check out his Babylon IMAX review below.

Babylon IMAX Movie

Decadence, depravity, and outrageous excess lead to the rise and fall of several ambitious dreamers in 1920s Hollywood.

Babylon is maximalist filmmaking to an almost alarming degree – certainly nothing like it will get made in the near future – especially with folks not turning out to see it in theaters – which is a massive shame for anyone who enjoys big-budget storytelling aimed squarely at adults.

I knew I was in love with this film, when, during the very early moments, an angry pachyderm emptied its rather-full bowels all over a couple of characters (and the camera lens) with a Jackson Pollock-esque diarrhea splatter-spray, which was as horrifying and thematically loaded as it was hysterical to see taking place. And because you can only go up from there, I’ll leave the rest of the insane debauchery for you to discover, as the movie’s characters learn just how hard the transition will be from silent films to talkies, as that’s what the poisonous narrative centers on – Hollywood in flux during the late 1920’s – with piles of cocaine stashed in every corner, and giddy Fatty Arbuckle waiting for his golden shower.

Babylon movie

Damien Chazelle used everything a writer/director has at their disposal with this one, and for me, the results were spectacular to watch on the big screen. It’s an assaultive, in-your-face, three hour blast of pure cinematic energy and verve, while also being absolutely hilarious and frequently transgressive.

Margot Robbie must’ve burned 10,000 calories a day on this set – she’s magnetic and impossibly sexy as always – giving a fierce performance that doesn’t easily translate into immediate audience sympathy. Totally deranged Tobey Maguire POWER – he’s rarely seen in films these days, and he turns up here playing a genuine psycho, providing the movie some bracing tonal shifts.

Brad Pitt yet again reminds me why he’s my favorite movie star, with a layered performance that’s filled with as much inward pain as outward exuberance. He also gets the year’s biggest laugh. And the great Jovan Adepo brings true (and much-needed) heart and soul to the piece.

But it’s newcomer Diego Calva who anchors the piece, which is essentially broken up into three sections, with almost every scene and sequence registering as some sort of filmmaking tour de force. It will be an exhausting film for some viewers, but for others, these 190 minutes will race past your eyes and ears, and if nothing else, you won’t be able to say you weren’t served a full meal of motion pictures.

Toby Maguire Babylon

Linus Sandgren’s herculean cinematography is a visual grand slam, with his serpentine camera always on the prowl, always finding something bonkers to display, and doing it with extreme style and craft. The last 10 minutes have seemingly been tinged with LSD and there’s a film-wrapping montage that just has to be seen to be believed.

Justin Hurwitz’s pulsating, jazz-inflected musical score is always present and always fabulous, the editing patterns have a Scorsese-vibe, I detected more than a few nods to Paul Thomas Anderson, and in general, I had a total blast watching it all unfold. 

Babylon IMAX review by Nick Clement

Our Rating

Summary

Sprawling in scope, messy by design, occasionally reckless, and bursting with passion, Babylon is an overstuffed gift of movie madness that will delight some and confound others – which is how all art should be in the end.



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