Babylon 4K SteelBook review

Mar 11, 2023- Permalink

Damien Chazelle’s Babylon takes a long look at the excesses of Hollywood in the 1920s. I mean a long look. As in three hours and nine minutes. Maybe it was the runtime that scared people away and turned the movie into a box office bomb. Damien Chazelle’s creation split the critics (with a 56% rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences stayed away. It’s audacious. It’s crazy. But in a world of increasingly repetitive superhero movies, can’t we entertain a little audacious and crazy in our life? The movie, which stars Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Diego Calva, Jean Smart, Jovan Adepo and Li Jun Li, is getting a 4K SteelBook from Paramount Home Entertainment and I had a chance to take a look.

The 2160p HEVC / H.265 encoded native 4K digital transfer with Dolby Vision and HDR10 is presented in a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. Babylon was shot on film and the 4K digital transfer looks gorgeous with a pleasing light grain. Details are sharp and abundant from the costumes and sets to the locations and facial features. The colour palette is bold and the HDR gives an added boost to specular highlights. Black levels are nice and deep and there’s no loss of detail in shadows or darker scenes. There’s no apparent compression artifacts or digital noise.

On the audio side of things, you have the choice of English Dolby Atmos soundtrack as well as English Descriptive Audio, and French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. Subtitles are available for English, English SDH, Cantonese, Danish, Spanish, French, Korean, Mandarin, Norwegian, Finnish, Swedish, and Thai. The soundtrack shines with the heights and surrounds placing you into the movie’s world with effects and environmental sounds. The score is powerful and dynamic and dialogue is clear and centred with the low-end frequencies adding punch to both the action and the score.

Babylon comes in a three-disc set, with the 4K, a Blu-ray copy and a separate Blu-ray for the bonus features. A digital code is also included. The extras on the bonus disc include a half-hour look at various aspects of the production, pieces on the costumes and score and several deleted scenes. The collectible SteelBook case isn’t much of a showstopper. The black case features the cast in a circular display on the front and a shattering champagne glass on the back. On the inside, there’s a photo of a scene from the film. One disc is on the left, with two other discs stacked on the right side.

Damien Chazelle’s Babylon is an audacious look at the cinema industry in the 1920s. The physical media release pairs gorgeous video with excellent audio. The extra are a bit light and the SteelBook case is underwhelming, so though I’m recommending this, you might want to go for the non-SteelBook version if that’s not important to you.