Sunday, January 28, 2007

Film Review: Babel

Knocked this one off my "To see" list, too.

As most of you now know, Babel is getting lots of Oscar attention for its 7 nominations, including Best Picture.

I'm not surprised that it got the nominations: this movie is a Crash clone. Did you like Crash? I sure as hell didn't.

By the way, I just had a look: Crash got a 75% on rottentomatoes. I thought that was brutal for an Oscar film - until I noticed Babel's 69%!!!! That's atrocious for an Oscar film. If critics are having such a hard time liking it, why is the Academy praising it?

Let me summarize both films: "Bad things happen to people whose lives are intermingled in some way."

That's it. The end. Pass the Oscar.

This movie had a lot going for it. First of all, director/producer Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu deserves a ton of credit for putting this thing together. The movie looks good and it works for the most part. Writer Guillermo Arriaga, on the other hand, ought to be shot - by Inarritu. So much of this movie is filled with crappy dialogue that I just couldn't enjoy it.

The Brad Pitt/Cate Blanchett storyline is boooooring. It's especially boring for those in the audience actually paying attention - the outcome is blown early on, so where's the suspense? Their first scene together is doinated by the most heavy-handed, obvious, film school exposition that I cringed, groaned, then almost fell asleep. People in that situation wouldn't be having that kind of conversation - because they would have had it long before they got there.

But the real sign that this movie had problems came in a scene later in the movie, again involving Pitt. Clearly, the writer and/or director actually thinks that the audience is being shown something new - that a revelation is taking place. But again, if you paid attention early on, this is the most boring, superfluous scene in the movie.

My friend and I agreed on which storyline was our favourite, but disagreed on our reactions of the storyline involving the character Chieko. She hated it, and I actually enjoyed it in that it was daring and somewhat different. It's no spoiler to say that it involved a girl with a handicap, which I actually found somewhat compelling. It gets a little out of hand, though, and includes one of the crassest bits of foreshadowing ever put to film. I actually laughed.

Oh, and a little warning - those prone to seizures should avoid this film. There's a scene about halfway through that puts Pokemon to shame.

Overall, I can't bring myself to give this movie anything more than a thumbs sideways - it was as obvious as you think it might be, going in. I got exactly the kind of movie I was expecting - a Crash clone - and that's not good.

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