Children of Men

Children of Men has proven so popular with crowds and critics, that more than one reviewer has been moved to defend it against claims that it is—- gasp– science-fiction. Of course it’s SF of a familiar kind, and very well-made.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info:

Director: Alfonso Cuarón.

Writors: Alfonso Cuarón, Timothy J. Sexton, et al, based on a novel by P.D. James.

Cast:

Clive Owen as Theodore Faron
Claire-Hope Ashitey as Kee
Pam Ferris as Miriam
Julianne Moore as Julian Taylor
Chiwetel Ejiorfor as Luke
Peter Mullan as Sid
Charlie Hunnam as Patric
Michael Caine as Jasper Palmer

Premise:

Societies collapse twenty years from now, in a future where no children have been born for eighteen years. England, now a police state, is one of the few countries that has survived the crisis, though at a significant price. An English rebel organization taps Theodore Faron, a government worker, to assist in the transporation of a woman who is pregnant.

High Point:

The movie uses well-composed images effectively, without forgetting that the images in a movie should tell an actual story and reveal plausible character, and not just be a series of pretty, or even disturbing, pictures (Lucas! You paying attention?). The scene in the empty schoolhouse ranks as one of my favourite smaller moments in the film, and it leads nicely to the first appearance of Sid. The final sequences in the refugee camp have a certain power and headline realism.

Low Point:

The film holds together, and yet I couldn’t help but wonder about Faron’s reasoning. Kee carries the hope for humanity and the single biggest bargaining chip on the planet. Faron was willing to go public even knowing that he was wanted by the law, which (given his position) suggests that the British government’s power is not total. He has learned that he cannot trust the rebels who warned him against going public. He knows nothing about the Human Project; trusting them, trusting that they even exist, is an act of faith. Surely, with his enemies in pursuit, he might have considered options other than charging into a squalid refugee camp on the brink of war in the hopes of finding an organization that may or may not exist.

The Scores:

Originality: Many of the images come from the stockpile created by generations of war footage and dystopic works. The film itself loosely adapts an existing novel, and the basic premise has been handled elsewhere: an old Twilight Zone episode, for one example. It has been handled effectively, however. 3/6.

Story: Children of Men should hold your attention. Some key elements remain unexplained. Given that we know we can trust neither the government nor the rebels, I’m a little unclear why we should place so much hope in the enigmatic Human Project. 5/6

Effects: The film includes outstanding sequences of urban battles, and the violence looks very real. 6/6

Acting: The film features exceptional acting; I was even willing to accept Michael Caine’s somewhat contrived character on the strength of his performance. The leads prove convincing, and Peter Mullans makes a lasting impression in the minor, memorable role of Sid. 6/6

Production: 6/6.

Emotional Response: 5/6 The film includes shots which will haunt the viewer; at times you may be too conscious of being manipulated.

Overall: 6/6.

Children of Men receives a total score of 37/42

9 replies on “Children of Men”

  1. krilia says:

    Well done, but I didn’t like it.
    It’s kind of interesting, but after I watched this, I sat there and realized that I didn’t like it. I acknowledge that it was well done, but i think I just like my stories with a few more answers, a bit more backstory. (I’ve certainly felt that aesthetic appreciation but not like for a number of books, with 1984 being the top of the list.)

    This didn’t feel like a novel made into a movie, it felt like a short story made into a movie.

    My other comment is to agree with something I read in some review – THIS is the atmosphere that V for Vendetta should have had. The government very much in control, an aura of desperation…

    • octa says:

      Re: Well done, but I didn’t like it.
      Ahh but then you’re missing an important point about V. It wasn’t just that the government was in control it was that the people had allowed it. V blamed the people as much as the government, which was the reason for his ultimatum. The comic does explain it better though.

      I really liked Children of Men but I realize it was more the cinematography than the actual plot. I’ve seen this story before (Halflife 2 anyone?) albeit with some important differences. They could have spent a bit more time fleshing out the world’s background, but it’s a minor complaint – I was riveted through most of it.

      • krilia says:

        Re: Well done, but I didn’t like it.

        Ahh but then you’re missing an important point about V. It wasn’t just that the government was in control it was that the people had allowed it. V blamed the people as much as the government, which was the reason for his ultimatum. The comic does explain it better though.

        I don’t see what that has to do with my observation – the desperation wasn’t there in the V movie like it was in the grahpic novel. I mean, in the novel, Evey was going out to prostitute herself, for goodness sake. The movie missed the point, IMHO.

      • OrangeCarrot says:

        Re: Well done, but I didn’t like it.

        They could have spent a bit more time fleshing out the world’s background

        I think the film did an excellent job of showing you what happened to the world in the last 20 years. Not directly, but symbolically as you watch the world around the characters devolve.

  2. octa says:

    RE: Low Point
    About your low point. I think the act of faith was due to his ex-wife wanting to get to the Human Project. After he learned that the rebels had double crossed her he probably thought that whatever she had planned was the best thing to do. You know, love and all that :)

  3. rickyjames says:

    Butterflies
    "The film includes outstanding sequences of urban battles, and the violence looks very real, 6/6 for Effects". Huh. This single line in the review above is a huge understatement. There are several set pieces in this film that are FRACKING INCREDIBLE, they are so realistic.

    We are so used to editing in films that we all forget that editing by definition is continuously breaking the viewer’s concentration on a single viewpoint. The money shots in this film are TRULY REMARKABLE because they go ON and ON and ON and ON and ON from a SINGLE VIEWPOINT without cutting away until the viewer has an INTENSE emotional invsetment in the scene that is unequaled in just about any other film you care to name.

    The other aspect of these money scenes is that there is SO much believable action and continuous event development during the shot that you think NO WAY can all of this be staged and you are fooled into thinking you are seeing chaotic reality unfold before your very eyes. It is very immersive and very unsettling and very amazing.

    This is a flawed gem of a movie, a big sparkling diamond with numerous cracks running right thought it in every direction. I didn’t care about Our Hero because he is so far gone over the line of cynicism (sp?) that there was nothing left with which to relate or connect (which, I grant you, is a hell of an acting job). I didn’t care about Mommy or the Guv’ment or the Rebels or even the mysterious Human Project becasue none of them had a handle to grab onto and care about. I think this is a movie worth going to see because of the incredible job done of depicting a dying world and its decaying atmosphere and nothing more – kind of like being in a museum and seeing a fantastic display of brilliant, beautiful butterflies stuck on a display board with pins.

    • zonk3r says:

      Re: Butterflies
      I agree with your assessment. I liked the movie up to about 15 minutes before the end when I suddenly realized it wasn’t going anywhere and likely wouldn’t.

      The movie has virtually no character development. You feel nothing for these people. What it does have is emotional development in that it puts you into his shoes and makes you feel like you are living in this strange world.

      However I was really put off that there was no reasoning behind most everything that happened in the movie. It just happened and you are supposed to accept that. That’s fine in some stories but in something that is essentially a scifi cautionary tale I think it is important to explain how things came to be.

      In short, this would have been an AWESOME Part 1 to a 2 or 3 part series. As a standalone movie with no plans to… finish the story I’m disappointed.

  4. MrChris says:

    Have to disagree on cinematography.(sp)
    At least early on in the movie I was very distracted by the shakey-cam effects to the point I had to shut my eyes and allow myself to re-focus a couple of times.
    I understand the reasoning for it, but some scenes (mainly the urban ones) had no need for a shakey-cam approach.

    • krilia says:

      Re: Have to disagree on cinematography.(sp)

      At least early on in the movie I was very distracted by the shakey-cam effects to the point I had to shut my eyes and allow myself to re-focus a couple of times.
      I understand the reasoning for it, but some scenes (mainly the urban ones) had no need for a shakey-cam approach.

      My husband was actually getting headaches from it. It wasn’t just shakey cam, it was shakey cam extreme in some scenes.

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