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|Index||1229 reviews in total|
I went to see this movie without catching any reviews, expecting
something rather depressing and underfunded.
Let me stop there and start again.
This movie is a revelation from start to finish. A convincing future world, deftly conveyed with so many subtle signals that I'm sure it will benefit from further viewings. A completely "other" England which I was amazed to see realised in such detail. Clive Owen FINALLY has the heroic role we have been waiting for and is brilliant in it. Julianne Moore simply glows and I've never enjoyed Sir Michael Caine so much before. The soundtrack is beautifully eclectic. Aside from some excellent classical choices, there's an evocative and alternative Spanish take on "Ruby Tuesday" which is a signature on the film. Wait during the end titles to enjoy an excremental song from Jarvis Cocker.
The movie grabbed my attention right from the start, and never let go. Initially, it's the differences of this future world that intrigue. Then, when the action starts, what I found really surprising was the freshness of direction that made me react to bullets and violence as if I'd never seen them in a movie before. If the script wasn't so wonderfully leavened with wit, it would be a grim and scary movie at times.
Finally, the whole thing is lit brilliantly, from the authentic dim English days to the atmospheric ending.
One to watch alongside "The Handmaid's Tale" some time....
The apocalypse arrives on film once again in a plot so simple it's
horrifyingly believable. It's 2027 and the world is close to
annihilation because no child has been born in 18 years. London office
worker Theo (Clive Owen) is offered cash by a radical ex-girlfriend to
escort a refugee (Claire-Hope Ashitey) to safety. Their lives are soon
at risk from both government and revolutionaries.
Although the camera work and cinematography is nothing short of stunning the focus always with our protagonist, ensuring we're kept in the middle of the action throughout. It is also undoubtedly one of Owen's finest performances to date. Theo is never far from danger yet he struggles on with convincing dignity. Occasionally baffled but far from stupid - Theo is essentially a reckless, underplayed action hero that doesn't jump at every opportunity to arm himself with a gun. This works well with the international ensemble of incredible talent: Michael Caine's charming pot dealing hippie, feisty Julianne Moore, key role Claire-Hope Ashitey, the wonderful Pam Ferris, the increasingly busy, excellent Chiwetel Ejiofor, Danny Huston and writer/director/producer Peter Cullen (gloriously sadistic Syd) to name a few... This is surely a casting coup to be jealous of.
The episodic nature of the story makes Children of Men difficult to place into one genre alone. Briefly glimpsed futuristic sci-fi technology is grounded in reality and looks entirely achievable while grey, graffiti ridden concrete locations provide an excellent backdrop for the near satirical look of our current social and political climate. There's poignant drama interspersed amongst exhilarating action and yet enough twists to call it a thriller.
This is not to say it's flawless. Some exposition is handled better in places than others for instance. However Alfonso Cuarón has achieved a completely remarkable experience. Arguably the film could have been longer given how strong most of it is. The only really hard pill to swallow is the comedy juxtaposed with some stark imagery that looks all too familiar to anyone who has ever seen the News from the past few decades. Nice to see a Pink Floyd reference though (pigs might fly!), and someone finally found a use for Battersea Power Station.
Ideally an audience should see this film with no preconceptions and know as little about the plot as possible. This will be unlikely though due to a staggered box-office release schedule, word of mouth and a plethora of reviews and trailers that are eager to give much of the game away. Ironic then perhaps that it must be said - Children of Men is a cinematic milestone. Great special effects and an effective soundtrack accompany this heartfelt, moving and thought-provoking film. Easily one of the best films in recent memory.
OK, I only got through the first 3 pages of comments but let me add my
1) Fantastic cinematography. Some like hand-held, some don't. It certainly worked very well here.
2) Related to (1), very long shots. There is one scene where the camera lens has blood splats on it for quite a few minutes. Hollywood would get rid of it, but for this movie it adds amazingly to the atmosphere that is being created.
3) Like "Code46" the technology is in the background. Just the way it should be, allowing us to focus on the story.
4) Theo as the central character NEVER picks up a gun, despite them being all over the place and easily available. As a viewer you are almost willing him to do so, to manage some of his challenges - but very deliberately the character does not.
5) I've read separately that yes this is a comment on current society. Being an Australian, with our controversial immigration laws and practices, that rings true.
6) Similar to (5), using the term "Homeland Security" in the movie is an obvious reference.
7) The revolutionaries/terrorists/fishes are shown to be just as political and militant as the government they oppose.
There are more, but that is enough. Overall a wonderful movie which leaves me thinking for a long time, which is all I ask.
I've seen this film and let me tell everyone that it was one of the most pleasurable surprises I've ever had with a film. I hadn't heard about it before and it totally took me by surprise. It blew me away and left me speechless. The acting is excellent by most of the actors, but Michael Caine deserves to receive a special mention for his amazing portrait of the old hippie Jasper. His performance is fantastic and he totally stole the show in the scenes he was in. Claire Hope is also fantastic in the role of Kee. Her performance is quite impressive, especially considering this is one of her first films. Clive Owen is also great as the reluctant hero who sees his life turned upside down and is given a huge responsibility. I've seen him in some other films and he's at his best here. A very good performance, you could feel what he was going through. In the technical aspects the film was brilliant, particularly Alfonso Cuarón's strong and consistent direction that is one of the best things in the film, and contributes a lot to its quality. Also director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki does wonders with images and there are some extremely beautiful shots all done in a naturalistic way, natural lighting, etc. It's an extremely well crafted film that makes you go through the emotional struggle the characters go through and makes you feel that you're in the middle of it all. Besides, it's also an extremely touching story that certainly touched my heart. One of the best films I've ever seen without any doubt.
I've had a particularly bad film year, especially after having seen one
particular over-hyped vacuous mess earlier in the year which all but
killed my desire to see any films, no matter how interesting they
looked or what the critics said about them. So, it was with a little
trepidation that I went to see this, especially given that it starred
Clive Owen (IMHO, the George Lazenby of British acting).
Well, I loved it and I'm not ashamed. It's unremittingly bleak and violent, but so beautifully filmed and realised that, at one point, I damn nearly burst into tears that someone could have created something so fresh and so moving, so provocative, so disturbing and so grimly beautiful. I thought it brought a real sense of imagination to the screen and that it was possessed of a fantastic visual flair. I felt that it ended on a note of hope, however uncertain and unclear, and certainly a note of redemption for the hero. I'll admit that Owen, while he still hasn't convinced me that he's a great actor, pulls off this role with a hangdog...um, doggedness that I found believable and often even moving.
I left the cinema strangely elated, relieved that cinema still has the power to move.
This year I attended for the first time the Venice Film Festival in Italy. I was of course quite excited and bought tickets to some screenings of a few different films I found interesting. Initially Children of Men wasn't in my plans but I was convinced by a friend who was very enthusiastic about it. Now I say I'm glad I bought the tickets! What an amazing film this is. The science fiction genre is just a coat to project into the future the horrors and problems of our current days and many films attempt that ending up, in most cases, failing. This one however succeeds. Succeeds indeed but not only in this... The film blew away nearly everyone in the audience as one of the best action movies we have seen lately, with extremely exciting and brutal chases, gun fights, etc. Don't be put off by this though, the film is as good as it is not because of the action sequences but its amazingly emotional and touching story. The performances of the cast is impressive especially Clive Owen and the newcomer Claire Hope Ashitey who throughout the film develop the relationship between their characters and it's such a joy to see the development. I'm not very good at writing reviews so I think I'll stop know, but I had at least to transmit something to everyone who might be interested in watching this film. Don't pass this one, you won't regret it. In my view one of the few excellent films released this year.
Alfonso Cuaron has given us a very clever rendering of a very English
dystopian novel. P D James, the "Baroness of Bad" is famous for her
well-written and absorbing police procedural novels ("Inspector
Dalgliesh") but in the early 90s she produced a vision of a world only
20 years into the future in which for unspecified reasons all the women
on earth have become infertile and no babies have been born for the
last 18 years.
The rest of the world has lapsed into chaos but the British, stoically, have put the remainder of their civil liberties into the fire and have settled down under an oppressive dictatorship to ward off foreign boarders and await inevitable extinction, though there are some violent dissidents called the fish.
Theo (Clive Owen), a journalist with connections to the top, is "persuaded" by his ex-wife and fish member Julian (Julianne Moore) to obtain some exit papers for Kee (Claire Hope Ashity) a young black woman, who, it turns out, is pregnant. Theo is swept up in Kee's escape across a grim decaying landscape. Not only are there the security forces to contend with, but some equally ruthless insurgents. Cuaron builds the tension exquisitely, interspersing the adrenaline fueled bits with quieter bits.
Kee' projected saviors are a mysterious group called the Human Project who conveniently sail their well-maintained Greenpeace style ex-North Sea fishing trawler past offshore light buoys in the hope of rescuing the human race. But the improbability of this doesn't matter much because by the end of the movie Cuaron has effectively demonstrated what the world would be like if humankind suddenly stopped reproducing. Having children is our way of cheating death, without them there is nothing but death, and in this future there are none about but the living dead.
The casting is pretty well perfect. Clive Owen as Theo puts his haunted good looks to good use as he turns from cynical reporter to a hunted enemy of the state. The motley characters he meets along the way his ex-wife, the fish rebels, the refugees who help him, the "fascist pig" border guard and above all Michael Caine's aging hippie are all wonderfully realized.
It has been suggested that Cuaron has really made a film about today, not 20 years into the future. The rampaging security forces we see might as well be in Bosnia or Iraq, or even Northern Ireland. In an age of terrorism, order without law very quickly becomes tyranny, which has never been the answer to terrorism. What he and PD James do demonstrate is just how fragile our civil society is.
As a film this is a very fine piece of work. The sets exude grimy Britain, the battles are hair-raising, the quieter moments intense. Cuaron would do a great James Bond movie. He has turned a rather rarefied novel into an exiting and engrossing thriller without obscuring the original message. He is a very versatile and enterprising film-maker and I'm sure he's going to do lots more good stuff.
Of all the visions of the future movie audiences have been treated to
over the past few years, the world of Children of Men may be the most
frightening and allegorically effective yet.
Directed by Alfonso Cauron (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), and set in 2027 London, the film takes place at a time when the planet is in the grip of an infertility crisis. Societies worldwide have collapsed after no children have been born in almost two decades, and the survivors of the ensuing wars, atrocities and civil breakdowns flee to Britain, which still functions under a harsh regime.
Clive Owen (Closer, Sin City) plays Theo, a former activist now working as a paper-pusher in the Ministry of Energy and downing a large amount of Scotch to get him through the day. He walks to work past terrorist bombings, cages filled with illegal immigrants rounded up by riot police, and piles of garbage littering the London streets. When an old flame and revolutionary, played by Julianne Moore, appears with a request that he use his governmental connections to help her move a refugee girl across the country, he agrees on the basis he be compensated. When he discovers that the girl (Kee, played by Claire-Hope Ashitey) is pregnant, his mission takes on new dimensions.
Cauron and his team of production designers have created what is, perhaps, the most believable vision of the future seen in quite some time. Advanced technology exists side by side with squalor, and is never allowed to steal the audiences attention away from the proceedings for too long. As far as being a realistic portrayal of Britain in twenty years time, the film is light years ahead of last year's disappointing V for Vendetta, which stripped away British iconography and culture and essentially kept London as a rather two-dimensional metaphor for the United States.
As a thriller, the film is blisteringly intense and incredibly effective. From the bomb blast that caps off the opening credits to the frenzied urban warfare sequences that dominate the film's closing thirty minutes, Cauron never lets the film lag. Though it slows down enough to deal with character development and exposition, the film maintains a running intensity as Theo and Kee try to stay one step ahead of terrorists, the police, the army and random opportunists. Several action scenes are shot in continuous takes, and make for compelling and electrifying viewing.
However, the film works as a socio-political drama as well. Though Cauron's two central messages (that immigrants enrich, rather than threaten, Western society, and that the outlook for human survival is dim when operatives on all sides let ideology displace compassion and good judgment) are strongly put, he is never so heavy-handed that they dominate or displace the actual storyline. Similarly, while the film makes numerous metaphorical references to present-day events, they are never so contrived as to derail the narrative.
The film features solid performances from Clive Owen, who is at his rugged, rumpled best, and Julianne Moore. Supporting players also do well: Michael Caine is terrific as Theo's pot-growing hippie friend, the versatile Chiwitel Ejiofor is again in fine form as a revolutionary cell leader, and Pam Ferris is also good as another of Kee's protectors. It is, however, Claire-Hope Ashitey who stands out as the illegal immigrant who may well be humanity's hope for the future.
Children of Men is packed with explosive action, incendiary social commentary and some white-hot performances. As a result, it may well be the best film of the year.
Worthy addition to a very British literary, televisual and cinematic
tradition of dystopian and apocalyptic narratives. H.G Wells, John
Wyndham, SURVIVORS, 28 DAYS LATER.
These texts are revealing of the times in which they were made. Rather than looking forwards,they re often, at heart, deeply conservative. They frequently express a desire for a world where the centralised, industrial society has broken down entirely, replaced by an agrarian based model comprising small, rural communities. These narratives coincided with the rise in 'alternative ' lifestyles, interest in self sufficiency, organic farming, low technology and a different relationship with the Earth. Nostalgia for a pre Industrial past is more prominent than hope and anticipation of a glorious new future when civilisations been destroyed for a new, better world to emerge.
The grand narratives which we once imagined were going to change and improve the world no longer seem credible. Following the collapse of communism, there's a distrust of ideologies, especially those of the left. Arguably, the left has collapsed in the Western World. Thats the context this film arrives in, one where there seems no meaningfully effective counterbalance to the continued dominance of global capitalism, media saturation and environmental meltdown.
Arguably this film offers some hope but my overall impression is of something a lot bleaker than other apocalypse narratives. Without children there is, literally, no future left. Although emerging from a different context, this film shares with its predecessors a thoroughly revealing indication of the concerns preoccupying the time in which it was made.
Two scenes haunted me. The man in Battersea, isolated with his art collection and the set pieces of the illegal immigrants, rounded up and caged.
The Battersea scene uses its location and choice of Picasso's Gernika painting in the background to make a searing comment on a civilisation which, despite its pretensions to Art and Culture, has managed to engineer its own extinction. A civilisation whose intellectual and cultural elites, instead of challenging the prevailing discourse, isolate themselves, collusive in a form of collective denial.
The illegals scene is composed in such a way as to recreate images from the War on Terror, images which are now iconic. Both scenes link together through use of the painting which is an inspired device. This is definitely a movie to watch and work at. I was also intrigued by the recurring animals, and reminded of Tarkovsky, whose work is consistently loaded with symbolism. The scene at the empty, abandoned school was very reminiscent of the Russian director. Also praiseworthy is the astonishing use of sound, particularly in one of the key scenes when dogs can be heard barking in the distance.
Another haunting image is that of the flowers and wreaths laid very early on, after the youngest person on earth has died. Reminiscent of the mawkishness, sentimentality and mass hysteria of those laying floral tributes to murder victims they never knew, the so called 'Diana effect'. Again, a clear reference to todays world.
This is an outstanding piece of film making, I agree totally with previous reviewers comments, especially regarding the battle scenes, which have an immediacy, bringing to mind COME AND SEE or APOCALYPSE NOW. I ll give the last word to Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian newspapers film critic who called this 'a thinking persons action movie.'
this film is one of the best things i have seen this year. It's an
improbable cross between "Brazil" "a clockwork orange" and the video
game HALF-LIFE2 (from which it borrows it's final sequences and use of
on shot action-sequences) it manages to be both entertaining in the
Hollywood way (with incredible action sequences and a very clever way
of using digital effects) yet very sad and different with a very very
dark and realistic overtone. No comic relief, no cartoon character
bravery, only human behavior in it's best and most horrible way. This
realistic overtone makes the main characters very engaging and moving.
CLive owen (whose i have always disliked) is excellent as the man
drowned into an adventure too big for him (sorry for my bad English)
It's the same kind of film than V for vendetta (both taking place in a futuristic fascist British society) different from the usual mainstrean studio teenager pleaser crap
GO see it! help intelligent cinema
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