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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 21.71%
Average: 6.2%
Pretty Bad: 10.08%
Total Crap: 7.75%

10 reviews, 69 user ratings

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Children of Men
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Erik Childress

"Welles, Hitchcock, Altman.....Cuarón!"
5 stars

I thought I’d go my whole life without ever having to admit that Whitney Houston was right about anything. But that whole damn belief that “children are our future”, while a simplistic belief on the level on believing that oxygen is necessary to breathe, is a blatant truth. For all the ways they can be bothersome to us curmudgeons on planes or used as political tools to ban the things us adults enjoy, the world would be an awfully different place if one day they just ceased to exist. This is the premise behind the film adaptation of P.D. James’ sci-fi novel and in most cases it would be an afterthought to create some low-falutin’ tale about cloning or forgotten about once established as a film with only one idea. But director Alfonso Cuaron rides it out to the bitter end, creating a harsh mirror of our future with violence and some of the most purely exhilarating moments of cinema to be found in all of 2006.

If the film is prophetic in any way, then in just three years time a mysterious, unidentified plague has turned the world’s women infertile almost overnight. Miscarriages abound and a few years development gives us no more crying babies. By 2027, economies have collapsed and uprisings have turned everywhere but Britain into Hell – and they aren’t far away. The public mourns the death of the world’s youngest person as Theo Faron (Clive Owen) uncaringly uses it to his advantage; little things like being able to get coffee first and getting the day off from work. This is the new Theo; the one who has abandoned all hope in the world and would rather spend time with former political cartoonist, Jasper (Michael Caine), now living the high life with a room full of home-grown weed in as isolated home in the woods with his catatonic wife; the victim of tortures in the fascist regime the U.K. has become.

On his return trip, Theo is shoved into a van by a group known as the Fishes. Their leader is Julian Taylor (Julianne Moore) with whom along Theo was an activist in his youth and which led to a personal tragedy in their own lives. Julian monetarily seeks Theo’s help in securing travel papers. Refugees have been filing into the country as the last advertised safe haven (“The nations of Earth have collapsed. Only Britain still soldiers on”), but are met with cages and deportation if they are found out. The Fishes, including Julian’s second lieutenant, Luke (the always brilliant Chiwetel Ejiofor) are caring for one, or more appropriately two, as the young Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) is pregnant. They hope to deliver her to the rumored existence of the Human Project, a floating organization determined to find a solution for the world to survive.

Discussing the political motivations and social moirés of the sides involved in this struggle would normally be enough to craft a fascinating bubble of ideas ready to pop inside the intellectuals who talk first and do never. Cuaron starts from the ground up though, almost effortlessly holding our attention from frame one for reasons you may not fully appreciate until a second viewing. So many stories about the future exist to dazzle first and razzle later if they find time. Much the reverse of Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later which presented us with an abandoned London, Cuaron’s future is populated to the hilt with grime, substance and only subtle ultramodern touches that create more than just a “in the future” vibe.

If the film’s opening scene strikes you in the cinematic gut that few directors can successfully navigate, it’s just a mere taste of what you never would have expected to become one of the most exhilarating action films on modern record. There are sequences in this film that we will be talking about for years and to spoil that experience is the dilemma us writers wrestle with cause, like any moviegoer should, we’re just dying to share it with you like a five year-old on a pixie stick jag. Cuaron and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki maneuver through these scenes like the offspring of the world’s steadiest documentarian and the greatest dance choreographer alive. If Lubezki fails to garner a nomination for his work on this film (for EVERY organization that honors cinematography), it will rank as one of the greatest injustices on cinema record.

If you haven’t bought a ticket yet, screw it, I’m just gonna keep going about the set pieces you’ll miss if you don’t. There’s an escape from terrorists that casts a whirlwind on the proceedings we’d never have expected and ends with one of the film’s great takedowns. (You’ll know the film’s best knockout punch when it happens.) There’s another sequence full of stealth and suspense that also finds room to reveal vital character information and haunt us into understanding how grave Kee’s situation actually is. Finally, there’s an climactic chase where I don’t even know where to begin – cause I can’t actually pinpoint the precise moment it begins other to say that by the time it’s decisively over, Orson Welles would have toasted it as a landmark of pure cinematic prowess. To even call these scenes set pieces almost do them injustice. Cuaron is not inserting them cause its time to wow the audience (a la a Die Hard or Pirates of the Caribbean). They are integrated and arise out of necessity for survival, unlike similar sequences in action fare that we take for granted and expect to see. Much like the children of the world.

Clive Owen is becoming one of those actors instantly capable of holding the screen and his performance here doesn’t need big speeches to accentuate his regression (or re-evolvement) into someone willing to care about lives other than his again and life in general. Michael Caine gets a few of those dialogue passages, but does so within the shell of such an amusing, closeted philanthropist that it provides depth instead a soapbox. Children of Men lays out the plight and carefully gives us just enough to make up our own minds about the apocalyptic wasteland exploited by those who see violence as the right; blinded by their own versions of politics and unalienable human rights. Or if you’re just one of those who can’t be bothered to make a difference, there’s still a cinema experience guaranteed to tweak your lungs and have you beginning a campaign to get everyone you know out to support it.

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originally posted: 12/22/06 16:22:17
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 Boston SciFi Film Festival For more in the 2014 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/24/14 dr.lao I'm just glad I wasn't depressed when I watched it 5 stars
5/26/14 Richard Brandt Cuaron's nervously roaming camera lends credence to this bleak, bleak world 4 stars
11/19/12 Sean Harrison A great beginning and a great ending, terrible otherwise. 2 stars
10/02/10 bored mom This rips off American Cyborg: Steel Warrior, except it won't give you a brain hemorrhage. 3 stars
6/17/09 Bonny Javo An interesting idea about the future reduced to a pretentious and plodding chase venue. 2 stars
4/25/09 TheGoc Dark but spectaular story of our near possible future if we continue in the wrong direction 5 stars
4/03/09 Pete Snot A technical marvel bereft of any intelligence, useful plot or characters you'd care about. 1 stars
4/03/09 Gorgon Zola A movie that makes it a point to be pointless. A partonizing script and no ending. Awful. 1 stars
1/11/09 Sully I still find it tough to understand what those crazy Brits are saying! 4 stars
11/19/08 David Newell Filmview Magazine says that this has the "stupidest title in motion picture history" 1 stars
10/08/08 Shaun Wallner I did'nt get it. Very Confusing. 2 stars
9/21/08 mr.mike It was....fair. 3 stars
4/21/08 Vineet Doshi Not exactly superb, but a good movie nonethelss. 4 stars
3/22/08 Matt awesome movie, eerily realistic, 1& 2 star raters-you guys are fuckin retarted 5 stars
1/28/08 R.W.Welch Done with great expertise, tho premise is hard to buy. 4 stars
11/01/07 Wake up, people! This is really, sad.. My first serious movie and liek omg it's liek so 'heavy' and 'deep'. i'm smart now, kthxbye 2 stars
10/24/07 Clarence Anyone who gives this film less than five stars is obviously braindead. 5 stars
10/24/07 William Goss A viscerally impressive rendering of an all-too-feasible future. 5 stars
9/13/07 I-K Visually and stylistically gob-smacking, woven through with references subtle and overt. 5 stars
8/28/07 kris A great film, obviously too smart for many here. 5 stars
8/22/07 Double M Technicaly great but flat characters, uninvolving, not THAT deep; didn't make me care. 3 stars
7/08/07 Tom Servo Finally a serious and deep sci-fi film-people with short attention spans beware 5 stars
7/07/07 K. Sear Meandered aimlessly and gave no incentive to care about the outcome. 1 stars
6/27/07 rw this movie blew. not worth the money to rent it. too many unanswered questions. 1 stars
5/30/07 Piz As you can see you'll either love it or hate it. Engaging movie with a flat ending. 4 stars
5/28/07 mb Dark 4 stars
5/26/07 Dan Pointless and confused. 1 stars
5/14/07 Elisa This film sucked 1 stars
5/07/07 Indrid Cold Yet another film enormously influenced by the cinematography of Saving Private Ryan. 4 stars
5/07/07 Tracey Chambers great movie, enuff said 5 stars
5/06/07 Todd Don't let the name fool you, this movie kicks ass. 5 stars
5/06/07 AJ Muller SciFi yes, but the dramatic weight is what gives this movie its power. Astounding. 5 stars
4/29/07 Geraldine Riveting, indeed. I loved this movie. 5 stars
4/23/07 matthew Uninvolving, terrible performances but good cinematography. Not as good as it thinks it is 3 stars
4/17/07 Stevo UK Its not us and our machines that are damaging the planet, its God-awful films like these. 1 stars
4/17/07 Jefenator Best I've seen in years. Pushes the envellope and doesn't mush out like most thrillers do. 5 stars
4/03/07 Monday Morning Better for humans to disappear, the way we're screwing up the planet. 2 stars
3/29/07 Luke My fave of 06 and well on it's way into my personal top movies of all time "pull my finger" 5 stars
3/28/07 action movie fan potetniaaly good, but way too avant garde-often confusing 3 stars
3/21/07 James Dunn Bleak, yes, but ultimately uplifting speculative fiction. Loved it! 5 stars
2/18/07 dmitry Good for the first hour before devolving into ridiculous schmaltz 2 stars
2/15/07 Bruce H An astounding, amazing, thinking persons movie, with a frighteningly real sequence 5 stars
2/09/07 mckrob definitely worth seeing !! 5 stars
2/05/07 Bert Kaplan lots of violence, great if you love blood and guts; a few interesting ideas 2 stars
1/26/07 kris Bitchflaps: what pretentious or derivative about it? Flap your bitch less. 5 stars
1/22/07 drtednelson the action sequences were almost good enough to make me forget that this movie had no "why" 3 stars
1/20/07 Dan F Background was the new of the world we live in - everyman/woman solidly placed at the core 5 stars
1/18/07 jcjs always nice to see Clive...excellent message which will happen if we don't straighten up... 5 stars
1/17/07 daveyt thought ending should've been darker, excellent film anyway. Will watch again for subplot 5 stars
1/15/07 Ben(jo) de Cinema An accomplishment of craft in every aspect. The ambiguity of its end is necessary to theme 4 stars
1/14/07 Tanya Excellent, full of action makes you think about the future 5 stars
1/14/07 Simon Beautifullly, stunningly, gorgeously directed. Sometimes hollow, but still impressive x10. 5 stars
1/13/07 Bitchflaps Horrendously pretentious, derivative and overlong, I almost walked out. 1 stars
1/11/07 biskitboy Masterful execution of a C-grade script. Half-baked. 4 stars
1/10/07 shaun lawton Nothing silly about it. Gripping, realistic, funny, tragic. Best futurist movie I've seen 5 stars
1/10/07 kris A marvel, should be seen in a good cinema. Saw it 3 times. 5 stars
1/09/07 del You're all just repeating one another because someone told you to. Sheep. 3 stars
1/09/07 Gerhard Maier Amazing movie that proves the genius of Cuaron. Watch it on a big screen 5 stars
1/08/07 Jill A really great story just doesn't end like that, Cuaron didn't have the guts to see it thru 3 stars
1/08/07 Todd Wallace Visionary, excellent film. Masterpiece. Politically relevant to today's war crimes. 5 stars
1/08/07 Zee Ryder See it. Then read the book and see it again. Science is dead, what's left? 5 stars
1/07/07 Christine Loved it. But cried a lot. Disgusted by the similarities to the US(what we're doing now) 5 stars
1/07/07 Jeffrey Fantastic, thought provoking and at times touching 5 stars
1/07/07 Dark Enchantress Great movie, very interesting and i could not look away 5 stars
1/07/07 Geoff Best action sequences I have ever seen in film, the theater I was in gave standing ovation 5 stars
1/06/07 Jeramie Clark Good call on the second viewing, every frame provides more depth to the story..AMAZING 5 stars
12/28/06 Tony Jovevski Magnificent, bravura film making. Best sci-fi in two decades. A privelege to sit and watc 5 stars
12/27/06 Ole Man Bourbon Pretty silly plotline, but an involving, active movie. 4 stars
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  25-Dec-2006 (R)
  DVD: 27-Mar-2007



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