Babylon’s review in 4K UHD and Blu-ray: Damien Chazelle’s film is proposed by Plaion in a fantastic three-disc steelbook. Gorgeous video, overwhelming audio (especially in English), good extras.
An overwhelming, ambitious, intoxicating film, perhaps excessive, but certainly a great tribute of love for cinema. The never banal Damien Chazelle this time did things even bigger than usual, and with Babylon went to explore Hollywood in the 1920s and tell the transition period linked to the introduction of sound after the success of silent films. An unbridled vortex of images and music, with a super cast headed by Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt and Diego Calva.
For a film like this, a luxury treatment on home video was due. Which promptly happened thanks to Plaion Pictures, which has just published for the occasion Babylon in a fabulous edition steel book three discs, with the film in the 4K UHD version and in the blu-ray one, leaving the task of containing the extras to the third disc. The most prestigious edition to better appreciate the film by Damien Chazellewhich we have had the pleasure of analyzing and which we will tell you about in this review.
An atmospheric 4K video that captures all the richness of the images
First of all, it must be said that the task of the video of Babylon it is not at all simple, even for the potential of the 4K UHD. In fact, the very special 35 mm shot also includes many dark scenes with precarious brightness, such as the initial party or the descent into the basement when Tobey Maguire’s character appears, but also the darkness of the cinemas: well, despite these difficulties, the result is truly magnificent, capable of enhancing the visual richness of the film, including details of lights, shadows and colors. In fact, even in the most difficult situations, the painting manages to maintain an excellent compactness, and to manage the most chaotic moments with an organic and exquisitely cinematographic image, with a grain that is always perceptible but light and natural.
Even in the midst of warm lights and many shaded areas, and a picture that is not very clear for obvious reasons, the UHD is able to capture the details and maintain the right contrast and good depth, also thanks to a very solid black. Dolby Vision and HDR work very well, so much so that the brighter external scenes are nothing short of crackling: here the sharpness is remarkable, the detail incisive (porous close-ups, make-up on well-defined faces, many minimal details on the fantastic costumes and settings) and brilliant chroma with intense and lively colours.
A chroma that shines even when there are perhaps earthy and sun-faded shades, as in the scenes where the film is being shot, which then end with the evocative moment of the recovery captured in the last ray of the sun, which excites with brilliant and enchanting shades, without smudging. As for the version blu-ray, here the video is obviously inferior in the various parameters and pays something compared to 4K in terms of resolution and chromatic intensity, but above all in terms of depth of the dark scenes, as it is physiological. But for the HD format, the disc remains of a high level, at the top of what the standard can offer.
Babylon, the review: a film “full of piss and wind”
Good Italian audio, but the English Atmos offers a crazy experience
On the audio front, unfortunately for the Italian track you have to settle for a Dolby digital 5.1, certainly of a good level and very engaging in the many chaotic moments with a high rate of energy and music, but obviously with a lower impact than the English counterpart in Dolby Atmos. Let me be clear, even in the Italian track the rear axle is very active, the sense of space in moments of celebration is accentuated, the music is enveloping and the bass feels vigorous, the dialogues have a good timbre. But switching to Dolby Atmos the difference is truly remarkable.
The whole sound design, starting with the maelstrom of sounds, noises and music that pours into the initial wild party, is enhanced by a wealth of hard hits and subtle nuances. There is a spectacular use of verticality, for example in the elephant scene, but in general the effects surround the viewer from everywhere, immersing him directly in the midst of the great chaos and giving him a strong experience. In this context so aggressive and amplified by muscular and robust bass, yet never invasive, the precision of the effects remains surgical. A truly extraordinary mix, in which the perfect balance between poise and boldness is complemented by an exceptional rendering of the beautiful soundtrack by Justin Hurwitz.
Babylon: because it’s the flip side of La La Land
The goodies: 45 minutes of material on the third disc
Given the length of the film, the wise decision to leave the blu-ray disc without extras. We therefore find in the edition also a third disc, a blu-ray entirely dedicated to special contents, which in reality are limited to about 45 minutes of material. The lion’s share certainly does A Panoramic Canvas Called Babylon (31′), almost a documentary in which the cast and crew talk about the inspiration and motivations behind the original story and then the making of the film, talking about life and parties in 1920s Hollywood, the cinema of the time, of the development of the film industry, of the characters, the shooting, the costumes, the music and the realization of some specific scenes.
We find then The Costumes of Babylon (3′), a short featurette on period clothing and its design, as well as the challenges of making thousands of costumes for the film. Following Scoring Babylon (2′), an even shorter look at Justin Hurwitz’s score. To close four deleted scenes and two extended scenes for a total of about 9 minutes.
In conclusion of the review of Babylon in 4K UHD and blu-ray, we can only praise the Plaion branded product once again, a beautiful three-disc Steelbook that manages to enhance all the intoxicating but complicated visual aspect of the film in 4K video. The English audio in Dolby Atmos is overwhelming, while for the Italian track we stop at a good but more modest Dolby Digital. Good extras, but more could have been done.
Because we like it
- The three-disc Steelbook is very nice.
- The 4K video is gorgeous and manages to digest all the considerable difficulties of the footage.
- The English audio is overwhelming and immerses the viewer in the midst of the most chaotic scenes.
- The extras are very interesting.
- Good Italian audio, but decidedly inferior to the original.
- We would have liked even more special content.