Children of Men

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A Different Kind of Human Race

Mar 20, 2007 (Updated Mar 20, 2007)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Suspense:

Pros:Cinematography, performances

Cons:What the hell's going on?

The Bottom Line: Children of Men stunned me and caught me off guard with its greatness--if you want the same thing to happen to you, give it a chance, you won't be disappointed.


Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.

There are very few films that come around nowadays that totally bring a new approach to the idea of cinema—and Children of Men is one of the few.

Taking place in 2027 Britain, Children of Men introduces you to Theo Faron, an everyday man/former activist living in an infertile society skimming with people dying off; the human race as they know it, as well as their culture is general, is deteriorating before their very eyes.

In no time, he gets caught in an ordeal with an activist group who has found the last woman bearing a child in the world and his mission is to transport her to the Human Project where a group of scientists await to discover a cure to the universal infertility.

As you can tell, this movie is a dystopian movie set in a futuristic society depicting propaganda, ultramodern props (but in a low-key way), and a Mad-Maxian-type of activism versus government mentality.

The movie itself, like the setting, is far ahead of its time. By far, this is one of the best scripts to be written; every little intricate detail is superb—all the way down to how magnificently shot it was.

Clive Owen is the star of Children of Men and I must say that I’ve been intrigued by his performances as of late especially in the films Sin City and the excellent Derailed—I think he’s a tremendous actor who is definitely one of the highlights in the film industry.

He plays a character who seems rather ho-hum and ordinary, but throughout the course of the movie he turns into quite the hero and shows the realism of how due certain circumstances, an ordinary person can accomplish extraordinary tasks—since he does carry the entire weight on his shoulders. Owen does a great job displaying this to the viewer and it adds a certain tension, which is an excellent effect.

The fantastic Michael Caine, who has also been having a great film run as of late what with The Weather Man, Batman Begins, and The Quiet American also has a role to be found as the very eccentric friend of Clive Owen’s character, Jasper.

Not only does he add comic relief and a role that I’ve not seen him play before (aside from that lame Austin Powers b.s.) but he really gives a layer of emotion to the film that I think it would have lacked if he had not been in it—strictly because of his father-son friendship with Theo and the events that occur.

Julianne Moore makes a few brief appearances—thank God. She’s really one of the only things that I thought lacked in this movie, but thankfully she was only in it in small doses. She plays Theo’s ex Julian who calls him back into action. I think she was sort of useless and her acting was just flat—perhaps because her character and her character’s relationship with Clive Owen’s character was just underdeveloped. Either way I call it bad.

Also in a supporting role you have the very talented Danny Huston, who plays a government official named Nigel, and I think that only an actor like Huston would be able to pull off the sheer authoritarian image that the character has.

Children of Men could have been so many things—an action movie or a sci-fi movie—but instead it took a totally different take and is in itself a political thriller in many ways. While there is some action, especially in the incredible climax of the film, it doesn’t bombard the film too much with senseless acts of violence—everything was appropriate for the movie and I think it made it very effective to me in the long run.

Instead of having a ton of crazy special effects to demonstrate the futuristic time period, a majority of the special effects are found in the script, which uses subtle references and such to artistically display where the movie is set and I really respected this approach much more because it felt like the futuristic aspect of the movie wasn't being shoved down my throat--and it didn't overwhelm the story.

The one area that I think the movie will lose some of its footing is in the first half of the movie. There were points where I didn’t know what the hell was going on and I had to have my friend explain some of the key points. You can easily get lost in Children of Men, so I’d recommend putting your full attention on it, but fear not because it will be worth it in the end.

On the other side of the spectrum, the one area of the film that excels over everything else is the marvelous cinematography. There were several shots in the film including two lengthy action sequences that I have never seen done on film before and are experiences that I will remember for the rest of my life, which made it all the better to see it in the theatre. The first sequence I need to speak of takes place in a car going down a road when all of a sudden the car is attacked and those brief moments not only surprised me, but had me shaking on the edge of my seat and this hasn’t happened to me since the viewing of The Departed.

The second shot I must speak of, is the climax that was shot in a very extraordinary fashion—without cuts, no holds barred. The way Clive Owen moved over the battlefield was not only extremely realistic, but it put you in the center of the action and made me feel like I was in an IMAX theatre. That, coupled with the unorthodox blood splatter on the camera and elaborate war violence—bullets whizzing, hitting the ground, dirt flying—make it not only visually effective, but mind-blowing.

I really shouldn’t have been surprised by how amazing Children of Men was because Alfonso Cuaron was behind the camera. Yes, the man behind the excellent Y Tu Mama Tambien. His camera work is simply phenomenal; mixing very unorthodox methods to make the action and world seem even more realistic and using very intimate camera techniques to exhibit emotion in way I’ve seen sparsely used. He is definitely a director to look out for and this movie is no different.

Essentially, this movie makes many political statements and its social commentary is clearly evident, but presented in an artistic fashion. It’s one of the few dystopian movies I’ve seen, which captures drama in a completely new way. Calling Children of Men one of the finest movies this year is an understatement. With no hesitation I consider this one of the best films of the decade and I stand by this with all my heart. With strong performances, a curious and innovative script, as well as cinematography (that was copped out at this year’s Academy Awards proving yet again how flawed the system is) whose greatness only comes around every twenty or so years, I strongly advise you to see Children of Men—you will certainly be happy you did.

(c) Jason Haskins, 2007


Recommend this product? Yes


Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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