Film Review: Children of Men

February 8, 2007 at 10:48 pm | Posted in Children of Men, education, movie | Leave a comment

I wanted to post my film review of Children of Men. Note that I was required to write this review for my film criticism class but thought that I would share it with the world. It’s not my best writing, but I think I get my message across. If you haven’t seen the film, then you should. Enjoy and post a comment or two and let me know what you think about my review or the movie!

 

Children of Men

While it may not have the box office numbers and the mass kid appeal of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men is certainly worth a nice evening at the local cinema. The masterful combination of drama, science fiction, action, adventure, and thrill/suspense is certain to hold the attention of even the most fickle moviegoers. Brilliant acting and amazing set-work bring the plot alive, practically sealing the certainty of an Oscar nomination if not an eventual golden statuette. While at first glance this film may appear to be yet another apocalyptic thriller, just a few minutes in you’ll realize that the plot is anything but predictable and you won’t even want to risk looking at your popcorn for fear of missing something else. Several times Cuaron fools the audience with his clever cinematography and plot distraction only to pleasantly surprise his viewers with shock, awe, and on occasion, tasteful gore. Don’t look away; don’t even go to the restroom. Children of Men is so full of small nuances and peculiarities that you’ll want to see it again and again. Missing entire scenes of this great film would just be a shame.

Regardless of the opinions of other non-science fiction critics, the plot is actually quite simple and not even that much of a stretch of the imagination, if you can consider it a stretch at all. The year is 2027 and for reasons undisclosed in the film, the entire world is in ruin except for Great Britain. But Children of Men is not your typical apocalyptic film that fills the screen with images of zombies, viral outbreaks, or World War (fill in the number). Rather, the stimulus for the chaos in the film is simply the sterility of the human race. At the opening of the film, the youngest person on Earth has just passed away and everyone is grieving his symbolic loss – he was 18 years old. It is to be assumed that this awful circumstance (human infertility) has lead to the rapid decline of civilization and Britain is the only country left that can offer some semblance of peace and security to its citizens. Naturally, Britain is a target for refugees or “fugees” as they are referred to in the film.

The driving force behind the plot is the safe transit of a virgin mother, Kee (Claire Hope-Ashitey), who is pregnant with the world’s first child in 18 years. Theo (Clive Owen), through good conscience and a history of activism, assumes the responsibility of her safe transportation while wrestling with the film’s thought-provoking antagonists, the government and the “fugees”. It is through their journey that the audience is skillfully maneuvered through hot-button political issues (think illegal immigrants, prisoner torture, and war), homages and “shout-outs” to past music legends (think John Lennon and Pink Floyd), and outright nail-biting suspense.

To say that you will be disturbed by much of what you see is putting it mildly. In fact, some scenes are so well choreographed that you feel as though you are actually there, watching the events unfold for the first time before your own eyes. But much of this is done with good taste brought about by very skillful film-making. Appropriately distant and wide angle shots combined with remarkable sound effects convey the worst of what indiscriminate violence has to offer without necessarily getting blood all over you. A personal and heartfelt reflection on the current state of humanity and its reaction to a truly world-wide tragedy are only appropriate after viewing a film of this caliber.

After all is said and done, you don’t even immediately realize that you have just been conned into thinking about politics and humanity. On the surface, Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men is just an outright excellent film. A well developed plot with skillfully orchestrated action sequences and intriguing science fiction are brought a little closer to reality through great acting and breathtaking cinematography (watch for the single shot sequence at the end). At a deeper level the film sends you home with thoughts and ideas to process and mull over, most likely only to culminate in the desire to see the film just one more time. But even if you don’t see it in multiples, watching it just once will definitely be worth two hours of your time.

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