There are so many reasons to be pumped about the upcoming release of Babylon. Damien Chazelle has been providing terrific entertainment the last few years with films such as La La Land and Whiplash, and he has assembled a truly spectacular cast to bring to life his boisterous tale of the excesses of Hollywood during the transition period between silent movies and talkies. The new movie’s trailer definitely has a chaotic feel, with Brad Pitt encouraging Margot Robbie to fight a snake among numerous other wild moments. An early screening of the 188-minute epic was held in Beverly Hills, and the first reactions are all over the place.
Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie star in an ensemble that also includes Diego Calva, Jean Smart, Tobey Maguire, Jovan Adepo and many more in what is expected to be a major contender for some 2023 Academy Awards. Let’s see what some of the first social media reactions can tell us about Babylon.
Clayton Davis of Variety calls is a “high octane, cocaine-inducing trip,” praising Justin Hurwitz for the music, as well as Margot Robbie’s performance:
#Babylon feels like if someone read Damien Chazelle the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and then he said, “hold my beer!”High octane, cocaine-inducing trip. First half is great. Likely the internet’s new favorite movie of all-time. Margot Robbie and Justin Hurwitz are your stars. pic.twitter.com/aM3rru1so0November 15, 2022
Movie critic Maggie Ma also mentions the music, and says that Li Jun Li, who previously appeared in a number of television series including Sex/Life, Wu Assassins and Quantico, is a true scene-stealer:
#Babylon is definitely a wild ride! But it’s also an interesting & crazy journey to revisit the history of Hollywood & Cinema . Love the music and star-packed casts. #MargotRobbie really gives it all. She is sensational. Li Jun Li steals the show every time she is on screen. pic.twitter.com/xt6TUqE6sVNovember 15, 2022
Jeff Nelson calls the movie “daring” and a shock to the senses. This writer says you can feel director Damien Chazelle’s style throughout the three-hour affair:
#Babylon/#BabylonMovie is a daring Hollywood epic that utterly shocks the senses. Margot Robbie and Diego Calva give huge performances. Damien Chazelle incorporates his signature musicality and movement throughout. Justin Hurwitz’s score is one hell of a wall of sound. pic.twitter.com/RTlL9WhaKaNovember 15, 2022
Josh Blumenkranz, meanwhile, is blown away by what he calls the director’s best work yet. This love letter to cinema took the moviegoer’s breath away:
BABYLON what a movie! A love letter to cinema. Damien Chazelle’s best film! I loved it! What a wild fun time at the movies! Margot Robbie gives a high octane performance that took my breath away! Bravo! #BabylonMovie #babylon #MargotRobbieNovember 15, 2022
However, it seems that for every tweet raving about Babylon, there is another poking holes in that narrative. While some reactions call this Damien Chazelle’s best movie, there are also those like this one from critic Erick Weber, who has strong opinions about this not just being the director’s worst movie, but one of the worst films of the year:
I have some really — really — bad news to share with you, #Babylon’s a flaming hot mess, a tonal disaster, easily Damien Chazelle’s worst film & one of the worst films of 2022 💀November 15, 2022
Matt Donato of SlashFilm says the first hour of the movie is engrossing, and each performer gets their moment to shine. However, overall character development is lacking, and the end result is a chaotic and “bloated mess”:
#Babylon throttles forward with excessive momentum to start, the first hour(ish) easily engages — then the next two hours deflate. Chazelle is enamored and repulsed by the industry machine, but his fantasy commentary is woefully scattershot. Chaotic, opulent, and a bloated mess. pic.twitter.com/cX6ceIyPRRNovember 15, 2022
Perri Nemiroff of Collider lauds Justin Hurwitz’s score, as well as Margot Robbie’s acting prowess, but she agrees with the above assessment that Babylon isn’t able to support all of its key characters:
#Babylon has some incredibly strong sequences — especially the ones focused on Margot Robbie’s character — but overall lacked focus & couldn’t support so many key characters. Lots of interesting ideas in there but the manic visuals & story structure work for some and not others. pic.twitter.com/ZF6SJLeoXcNovember 15, 2022
Finally, Joshua Rothkopf of Entertainment Weekly says the film is high-energy, but it doesn’t sound like that’s a good thing. He says that Babylon is fails to be insightful and calls it “a Scorsese coke film by a squeaky clean director”:
Damien Chazelle brings buckets of energy to BABYLON, but it’s never not pounding and obvious and, finally, uninsightful. Everything about it is borrowed — even down to Tobey Maguire stealing the film as its Alfred Molina. A Scorsese coke film by a squeaky clean director.November 15, 2022
It’s clear that audiences should expect a loud, long, chaotic adventure when Babylon hits theaters in December; however, it’s unclear how successful Damien Chazelle is at bringing his vision full circle. It will be interesting to see how the critics expand on their experience when reviews come out. In the meantime, see what’s coming to theaters in the remaining weeks of 2022, and check out our 2023 Movie Release Schedule to get a look ahead at next year.