Children of Men (2006) Poster

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10/10
A gut-wrenching look at an all too possible future - but also an immensely entertaining thrill ride featuring some of the best cinematography you'll ever see
gogoschka-111 January 2017
I first saw 'Children of Men' when it came out, 10 years ago, and while I liked it a lot, I kind of forgot about it soon. At the time, it failed to resonate with me on a deeper level - which in hindsight I find astounding.

Last month, a decade later almost to the day, I suddenly felt the urge to revisit the film (because it was mentioned in an article about "long takes"), and upon re-watching it, it just blew my mind. This film is so, so, good!

It not only manages in many aspects to be the most prophetic - and most shockingly realistic - sci-fi film I have ever seen: it achieves that feat with a level of style and through such an abundance of fantastic creative choices and innovative camera techniques that I was simply left in awe.

I was forced to conclude that this film was a visionary piece of art (and how that fact had eluded me the first time around I couldn't - and still can't - explain). It's a cinéphile's dream come true; it's a masterpiece in the true sense of the word.

'Children of Men' is a gut-wrenching look at an all too possible future, but it also works as a heart-stopping, adrenaline-rush-inducing piece of entertainment featuring some of the most breathtaking camera work you'll ever see.

The performances are flawless. The artwork, the production design, the music; I could go on and on: this is one of those few real masterworks where everything just comes together right. And I believe the final 30 minutes of the film rank among the finest achievements in the history of Cinema. Period.

10 Stars out of 10.
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10/10
"The future's a thing of the past." Tremendous from start to finish.
Youkilledmypine23 September 2006
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.
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10/10
Utterly transfixed
Greg White22 September 2006
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....
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9/10
Highlights of the movie
anton_lak2 November 2006
OK, I only got through the first 3 pages of comments but let me add my own.

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.

Cheers!

Anton.
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10/10
Restored my faith in the art of cinema
adamk-223 October 2006
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.
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9/10
Amazing Film. Truly fantastic! Mindblowing...
green_fairy22 September 2006
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.
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5/10
What's all the fuss about?
richard-19678 January 2008
I have to say I was shocked to find how mediocre I thought this film was. I mean people who I trust about movies loved it -- the people who raved about Million Dollar Baby, or Eastern Promises, or Amores Perros.

But this one I just don't get. Trite plot, obvious twists, trite AND obvious ending, superficial characters, and even Clive Owen wasn't as good as his usual terrific, intense performance. Compared to Inside Man, the role, the character, and the actor were nothing much at all.

Was it awful? No. I remained mildly interested though increasingly disappointed. But a great movie? Not a chance.

It's interesting that a comment has to run to ten lines when there's not much more to say here. But here goes: A good cast (Julianne Moore, Chewy Ejiofer, the wonderful Michael Caine) was wasted playing characters that were more caricatures: the faithful radical, the bad radical, the aging hippie. With the exception of Caine, they (incluidng Owen) sleepwalked through their parts -- and these are actors I love to watch.

That's ten lines, and enough said about this flic.
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9/10
A thinking person's thriller
Philby-36 November 2006
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.
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10/10
Electrifying thriller may be best of 2006
darth_random28 October 2006
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.
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6/10
Not Deserving of its Present Rating
mike-morgan6 January 2007
After reading various reviews and seeing the previews, I was quite excited to see "Children of Men". Upon viewing the movie, however, I was unable to see why users were rating it so highly. I believe there is a predilection to highly rate any Futuristic Dystopia, as they graphically transport us to a time that we are ever so interested in -- our not-too-distant future. "Children of Men" does this better than most, since -- with the exception of the infertility theme -- it does not highly disconnect us from what our future is likely to be.

Other than that, however, the movie lacks what it was claimed to be; it is not "Bladerunner" Redux -- not even close. The movie does not operate on multiple philosophical levels, and those attempting to dissect it are having difficulty not because it is especially deep, but because it lacks much beyond its initial layer. As a futuristic thriller (and very graphically violent, at that) it works marginally well, as there were a couple of moments when I felt my heart pitter-patter in that movie-theater way. Outside of that, there is not much going on here, besides the obvious: the world is going to hell and there are too many guns. Get on with it.
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