The director hates it and the studio hates it. In a nutshell, this is BABYLON A.D. with Vin Diesel, a sci-fi dystopia which is in some ways similar to CHILDREN OF MEN.

In all truth I never had this urge to watch BABYLON A.D. although I somehow like Vin Diesel for his work in PITCH BLACK and XXX. Well, destiny in the form of a sneak preview can be funny sometimes. While at first I had this I-don’t-want-to-watch-it feeling, it turned out to be a great let’s-look-at-what-went-wrong-here thing, thanks to my gained knowledge about screenwriting.

Learning screenwriting for my 3D animated short A ROBOT’S DREAM was in many ways a great experience so far. Not the writing itself – this one sucks in many ways – but reading books and online articles about screenwriting. Although the improvements on my writing skills are still not very great I more and more get this feeling that I can look at movies with a more analytical eye than ever before. And it got a lot of work when I watched BABYLON A.D.

What I would have changed

Since I have quite a lot of changes in my mind I will keep it short and present you my thoughts in a nice formatted list:

  1. I would have added a true single antagonist. In THE MATRIX for example you have agent Smith. Although the abstract matrix itself is the main antagonist – you could say the system – it gets represented by him. Such an element is terribly missing in BABYLON A.D. One time you get a strange group of fighters, then some soulless drones, then a female head of a massive cult (which was never mentioned before).
  2. I would have introduced anyone important in the first 15 minutes because in the current version many characters are introduced way too late. Take the head of this religious cult. I would have written the cult leader as the lady with the strings in her hand, telling the main antagonist what to do. Then I would have written the end in that way, that Vin Diesel saves the day (and the girl), but the status of the society hasn’t changed at all. She still is in power.
  3. I would have fleshed out the past of Vin Diesel’s character. You get the feeling that he has a past with many minor characters but none is really told. Result: we lack sympathy and empathy for the main character. In the third act we get some short looks at this past – which were only some images on a screen. This is one of the biggest wastes in the whole movie. The screenwriter missed the chance to connect the viewer with main character and his reasons.
  4. I would have fleshed out the dystopia. Although the vision we see is quite remarkable – it looks dirty and rundown and feels dangerous – a little bit of more background information would have been fine. In this regard I think I would have slightly changed the dystopia in that way that the civil war going on and all those minor problems can be traced back to the cult and its leader.
  5. I would have given Vin Diesel’s character more emotions.
  6. I would have given the girl less emotions – or better written: less annoying emotions.
  7. I would have scrapped the whole third act because as soon as the group enters New York BABYLON A.D. sinks and never comes back. Ridiculous action, artificial intelligence in babies (seriously: wtf??), unborn twins controlling her mother (W.T.F.???) and so on. If this movie was a series, here it would have jumped the shark.

These are the main changes I would have made if I were to (re-)write BABYLON A.D. Did I miss something on the way or am I completely wrong with one or all of my ideas? Feel free to add your thoughts.

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