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Children Of Men (2006)

DVD Cover (Universal)
Genres:
Action Thriller, Psychological Sci-Fi, Science Fiction
Director:
Alfonso Cuarón Alfonso Cuarón
Starring:
Clive Owen Clive Owen
Juan Gabriel Yacuzzi Juan Gabriel Yacuzzi
Michael Caine Michael Caine
Mishal Husain Mishal Husain
Rob Curling Rob Curling

7.5 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: January 10, 2007
Director Alfonso Cuaron should be very proud of himself. He has, essentially, created a mirror opposite of "Cheaper By the Dozen", and movie fans the world over should be thankful for that. In Cuaron's world, mankind if plagued by infertility. A baby hasn't been born in close to two decades, and the old are getting older, and the older are just dying - or killing themselves with a government issued suicide kit known as 'Quietus'. The motto - "You decide". You also need to keep in mind that this is not the future you're use to seeing. Not a lot has changed, other than the politics and the evils that are the same ones that plague us today, but to lesser extents. You don't see talking robots and large machines that can do the miraculous. You don't hear about cures to all sorts of diseases, or see how mankind has perfected immortality. None of this. You see dirty people and dirty streets. You see cars still driving on roads and you hear about people who were killed by the flu. You see guns that look the same as our guns today, and they certainly still bring about the same outcome. "Children of Men" makes the future look like the present, and maybe this is what makes the film so much more engaging, and frightening, than anything else out there.

The first five minutes of the film, leading into the bold yellow title, let you know for you're in for in terms of cinematic quality and the level of intensity. We learn early on in the film that the world's youngest person, Baby Diego, has been murdered. This gives us an early insight into the fact that the world has suffered from infertility for almost two decades. Other than that, this death has nothing to do with the film. We're introduced to the character of Theo Faron (Clive Owen), a former political activist who now bides his time spiking his coffee, taking trips to visit his pot dealing political cartoonish friend Jasper (Michael Caine), and tending his 9 to 5 job that seems about as exciting as a rerun of "Night Court". When he is kidnapped by a radical political group known as the Fishes, spearheaded by his ex-wife Julian (Julianne Moore), he is brought on to help escort a young immigrant girl. Here's the catch - she's pregnant. The remainder of the film deals with Theo & Co. trying to get Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey) to a group known as the Human Project, comprised of some of the greatest minds in the world working to cure infertility. Along the way, we are introduced to various characters, including Theo's artsy cousin (Danny Huston), a pot smoking police officer (Peter Mullan), and the co-leader of the Fishes (Chiwetel Ejiofor). The film plays out like most 'tough guys finds humanity by helping people to safety' scenario, but director Alfonso Cuaron packages it with some of the most brilliant direction you're likely to find.

There has been much buzz over some of the extended camera shots in the film, and I have to say that all that buzz doesn't do the film near enough justice. There are at least three sequences in "Children of Men" that raise the question - 'how'd they do that'? These sequences are some of the most amazing ever captured on film, and they have assured Emmanuel Lubezki the Academy Award for Best Cinematography - hands down - the only sure lock of the awards thus far. Director Alfonso Cuaron uses these scenes to add an uncanny sense of realism to a film set in the future. The gritty, no-nonsense approach to "Children of Men" separates it from all other films in the genre. A few critics have even called this 'one of the best science fiction films ever made', and I would whole-heartedly agree with them. "Children of Men" is the best thing we've seen since "Blade Runner", and I found it far more entertaining than "Blade Runner", on the whole. One of my favorite shots in the entire film comes when the bus is pulling into Bexhill Refugee Camp, and we watch from the perspective of the bus as they pass by the immigrants. I also appreciated the subtle little nuances of the film. I loved how the cats and the dogs were constantly drawn to Clive Owen's character. I loved how Pam Ferris' character was so spiritual, but really bad at it. I loved how Clive Owen also seemed to have trouble finding shoes. "Children of Men" was rich in both story and quality, and it's rare when a film can live up to such enormous hype, and even manage to surpass it.

You'll recognize more than a few faces in this film, and then others will leave you guessing. Clive Owen once again proves why he is one of the best actors in the business today, from his show-stopping performance in "Closer", to Theo in "Children of Men". He can play a broad range of characters, and I'd love to see him rewarded with a nomination. Julianne Moore does an outstanding job with her time on screen, as does the always amazing, and usually underrated Chiwetel Ejiofor as Luke. He has a real presence on screen and I love to see him work. Danny Huston and Peter Mullan offer fine support in two tiny roles, but it is Michael Caine who steals the show as Jasper, pretty much a variation on most other Michael Caine roles. He's one of those performers who can be himself all the time, but with tiny variations, and those are enough to make it totally original and totally memorable. His character gives 'pull my finger' new meaning and provides us with one of the most beautiful and tragic scenes in the film, set against a lovely cover of The Rolling Stones' "Ruby Tuesday". Newcomver Claire-Hope Ashitey is passable as Kee, but I keep thinking they could have found someone better for such a pivotal role in the film.

In summation (I'm about to retire that lead-in), "Children of Men" was a marvel of film-making. It was one of the best films of the year, and one of the best science fiction films ever made. Director Alfonso Cuaron has established himself as a true visionary, and "Children of Men" was the closest work I've seen even somewhat resembling Stanley Kubrick. He might be walking down that road, and it certainly shows in his work to date. "Children of Men" doesn't answer all the questions that it raises, but that's one of the things I liked about it. We don't really learn why women are infertile. We just know that they are. Do we have to know? No. Does it make the journey any less fulfilling? Absolutely not. When the Academy Awards are announced, it will be a travesty not to see Alfonso Cuaron, Emmanuel Lubezki, and others rewarded for this exceptional piece of film. At the very least, it has one of the best soundtracks of the year, complete with the aforementioned Rolling Stones' cover and some delightful underground ditties you're sure to enjoy. Kudos to Alfonso Cuaron and double kudos for Strike and Universal for shelling out the cash for this picture.

10/10.
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Edd #1: Edd - added 01/11/2007, 09:14 AM
The visuals in this film are stunning. Not even the book, with all it's detail, brings this much desperation into play whenever you read it. Acting is top notch too. Truly one of the greatest movies I've ever seen.
grain of sand #2: grain of sand - added 01/27/2007, 12:25 PM
when I watched this movie in theatre I felt like I was seeing a great part of cinematic history. I really enjoyed every bit of this movie, and this is a great review for it.
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