January 14, 2007
Movie Review: Children of Men
Warning: if you haven't seen this movie and are planning to then you probably don't want to read the rest of this review, well maybe you can just glance at it until you think you might have read too much.
What is Children of Men? It's a movie that blew my mind in some ways, but left me wanting more in others. Setting: several years in the future, in an apocalyptic nightmare version of Britain which has become the last secured society left on the planet. The national motto has become “Britain Soldiers On.” It reminded me of the film 'V for Vendetta' in the sense that Britain is the last place on the planet where civilization endures; but in both instances, it is an Orwellian-1984ish government ruled existence. The reason: Humanity has lost the ability to procreate, there is no future for humankind, which leads to massive worldwide civil unrest. Story: The movie begins with the main character, Theo, hearing the news that the youngest person on the planet has been killed, he was 18 years old. He goes about his business, stopping to get coffee on his way to work, and right after he exits the building a shocking explosion rips the building apart, and a woman walks out of the dust screaming and missing an arm just prior to the Title of the movie and the opening credits. A pretty dramatic opening to a very dramatic movie. Theo gets involved with a group of revolutionists who are associated with his ex-wife, and because of that becomes the shepherd of a young woman who is miraculously pregnant. He is trying to protect her from the revolutionists who are fanatics, as well as from the government, as well as from the general public as knowledge of her condition could considerably make her life be in more jeopardy than it is already. The film is a frighteningly realistic allegory of what life could really be like if a devastating pandemic ever wreaked havoc on mankind.
As for the good qualities of this film...
This movie is gorgeous. With respect to the cinematography, this film surpassed my expectations, it was simply amazing. The violence and the chaos was so realistic, you feel as if you are experiencing it, and it's nail-biting. Thats why this film is I think the first science fiction that is also an effective war movie. Another one of the visual astonishments of this film is it's transition from fairly high technology to war-torn fourth-world poverty, and violence.
Clive Owen is very good as Theo. He captures the emotions of tragic loss, despair, and the determined will to protect the pregnant woman so convincingly. This had to be a pretty challenging role because of the constant action, and he is in nearly every scene of the film.
The concept of the movie was meticulously thought out, which in the case of an apolyptic movie like this is something to really appreciate. And the creators obvioulsy spared no expense in producing this vivid depiction of warefare, rioting, and society crumbling.
As for the bad qualities of this film...
A lot of the dialog seemed simplified or contrived--A line that sticks out in my mind was during a scene where the main character would normally be very uncomfortable given the circumstances, his ex-wife jokes “Still like it in the Afternoon?” It's an awkward forced moment of sexual humor that was unconvincing and felt unbalanced. As for acting, some of the supporting characters were more a caricature than a character, which made the film appear more like it was trying to preach a message about about how people react when society is falling apart in a situation of hopeless desperation.
After I weigh the good verses the bad, my overall impression is that while it is not necessarily a great work of cinema it's still a very good movie, especially if just scrutinized as a science fiction. This film gets 3 out of 5