I like what's going on in Babel. I think that director Alejandro González Iñárritu has a good idea here. I just think I would have appreciated it more if the film had been a bit tighter overall.
The good idea behind Babel is that it's a story (or "stories" since there are about 4 major interweaving and connected tales) about miscommunication, the breakdown of understanding. It's set against the backdrop of language and the convergence of languages however that's just a symbol. The film deals with barriers to communcation through culture, gender, generations and religion. Exploring these ideas are fairly interesting and the stories Iñárritu uses to make these observations are generally satisfying, sufficiently depressing and down right compelling.
However Babel's weakness is that it's not very restrained. The film could have benefited from some tighter editing. Each story takes a lot longer to play out than it should have. There are some wonderfully beautiful moments but in between there is a lot of down time.
Still Babel satisfies and is worth watching. It presents interesting ideas and manages to be quite touching. Watching on DVD may allow you to fast forward through some of the slow bits.
The title comes from the biblical reference to the moment where God separated us all by mixing up our tounges and making it hard for us to understand each other. What I find beautiful about this is how universal a language film can be. Babel makes this point beautifully.