Even though I saw this after the new year,
I'm sneaking this one into 2006 reviews since I imagine it will be
in consideration for Oscar talks when the nominees are released in a
few weeks. Alfonso Cuarón, who also directed
Mama Tambien" and
"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban", does great work here
in "Children of Men"...but, as good as the film is, I was surprised
that I had to ask myself a basic question: just WHY are women
infertile in this near-future setting?
While you are in the theater, this is almost
a secondary conversation, despite the fact that the driving plot of
this film is based on man's inability, in 2027, to conceive
children. Or maybe it is women's inability to harvest said
children...the point is, nobody's had a kid in 18 years, and when
the film opens, the world's youngest remaining 18-year-old has died
and the remaining society in London is left to grieve this loss.
Not that it matters to Theo (Clive Owen), who is already sold on the
fact that the world is going to shit anyway...the human doesn't have
even a hundred years left, so why sweat the details? He
changes his perspective a bit when he is kidnapped by...his ex-wife
Julian (Julianne Moore), a resistance leader who needs him to
acquire transit papers for a "friend" of hers. Why? That
friend, Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey), is the first pregnant woman in
almost 20 years, and in order to keep her safe from the war-torn
London of the future, Kee needs to be whisked to the Human Genome
Project, which is really a boat, uh, somewhere, uh, far away.
So, all of this is just to say that
"Children of Men" is mostly an adventure film, as Theo assists Kee
in getting out of the city. The action, of course, is tied to
a very serious idea that our future would be bleak without the
potential to spawn future children...it would be even bleaker if we
were still doing everything in our power to rob, rape and destroy
what little we already have. It is that which makes "Children
of Men" such a stunning drama, such a watchable film and one that
has such exhilarating sequences...and, why I ultimately didn't love
the film so much as like it.
Five screenwriters, including Cuarón, have
certainly made mincemeat of P.D. James' novel; without even having
read the book, five cooks in the kitchen means that lots has been
ripped from the book to get to the nitty-gritty. One hopes
that the book comes up with some kind of logic behind how it is that
in just a couple of years, the human race has become completely
infertile; I thought that some characters may have brought it up
during the film, but it is never really explained as to how this
could have happened. Further, I still have no idea how Kee is
the lucky one who was able to conceive...could someone have included
even a five-minute roundup of how it is the human race could have
come to this point? I have to believe that this was considered
but ultimately deemed unnecessary, odd because everyone on the
resistance is fighting to keep this one jewel of a person alive.
What is here, though, is fantastic.
Owen and Ashitey are our partners for the majority of the film and
both are excellent; cameos by Michael Caine, Moore and Chiwetel
Ejiofor are all excellent, too. The action scenes are often
running master shots that follow Owen around from bombed-out street
to bullet-riddled bus/apartment building back to bombed-out street;
these kinds of scenes are showing up more and more in films these
days and you'll love the ones here because the intensity is just
bad-ass. The film's uneasy nature and random but bloody
violence makes for an interesting sit; in many ways, "Children of
Men" thrills you as a bleak but very cool sci-fi film.
Again, even caught up in the moment, my main
problem with the film is its decision to bypass pertinent
information about why everyone is in the situation that they are in.
But, as a fast-paced thriller, "Children of Men" is a great mix of
big-budget and arthouse sensibilities that may make some noise at
the Academy Awards.
Rating: $9.50 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard