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.

Favorite films: IMDb.com/list/mkjOKvqlSBs/

Lesser-Known Masterpieces: imdb.com/list/ls070242495/

Favorite Low-Budget and B-Movies: imdb.com/list/ls054808375/

Favorite TV-Shows reviewed: imdb.com/list/ls075552387/
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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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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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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
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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9/10
Carefully crafted piece of work
jflet12 September 2006
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.
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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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1/10
Stop the madness..
hermoinois17 January 2008
It is hard to believe that the movie we saw tonight is the same as the one praised here on this website. Where is the intrigue? Where is the view of a world that is tormented with the knowledge of being barren? Where are the deep insights into a 'very possible future'? All I saw was a simple chase movie that was obviously done differently compared to what we are usually dished by the likes of Hollywood but also one that not for second convinced me. Worse yet, I can't remember the last time I saw a movie this fake and contrived.

Apart from the fact that no reasonable explanation is given for the whole ordeal of getting the child through the violence to a ghostlike organization other than that it provided some sort of subterfuge for shooting the battle-scenes, no credible reasons are ever given for Anything that happened on the screen. The same goes for the motivations of most of the characters in the movie.

Sure, most mainstream productions hit us over the head with exposition making such productions not very challenging to watch, but to simply reverse it and unaffectedly explain nothing is just the opposite side of the coin and equally insipid even if it was shot from a first person perspective. The fact that the audience has to dig with shovels to find a plausible story somewhere is what makes this a masterpiece? By God, I think not.

I think I speak for the four of us who saw this movie tonight that we were all totally underwhelmed considering the acclaim and current ranking of Children of Men. The acting felt labored, especially by Caine whom we adore, the script embarrassingly poor in places, nothing really profound or philosophical to sink your teeth in and the ending, if one could call it that, was unimaginative and completely devoid of any intelligence to it. But frankly, so was the whole movie, so ten stars for coherence.

We remain dumbfounded considering the praise of this clearly overbudgeted but all the same cheap effort and feel totally hoodwinked by the glorifying reviews.

Ann, Kate, Deirdre and Cathy
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9/10
Enthralling, haunting addition to the apocalypse genre
trpuk196823 September 2006
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.'
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6/10
Despite Its Strengths And Awards And Critical Praise This Is An Often Mediocre Movie
Theo Robertson7 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I was really looking forward to this movie . I do like British dystopian / apocalyptic movies which have been in vogue for the last few years , think 28 DAYS/WEEKS LATER , V FOR VENDETTA etc and CHILDREN OF MEN was very well regarded by the critics even picking up a couple of Bafta awards and three Oscar nominations . Three Oscar nominations for a dystopian apocalyptic movie ! This means it's gotta be a great movie right ? Unfortunately it's not

It did have the potential to be a great movie but what ruins it is the lack of any type of internal or external logic . The human race has been sterile for 20 years so humanity will become extinct . Don't you think the sharpest minds in the world will go out of their way to find a cure for sterility ? They've even found a cure for this in real life and have done so for many years , it's called IVF treatment , something that is conveniently forgotten in this vision of the future

Even worse is the confusing idea that because we're dying out the British government has become fascist and they're stamping down on illegal immigrants . I'm sorry but if Britain is an island why don't the government just block the channel tunnel and search every boat docking in the country ? Surely that's a much better sensible idea than allowing the scenario seen here ? Not allowing illegal immigrants on to an island ( Whilst allowing immigrants with much needed skils to stay ) merely takes some political will combined with some common sense and would be a vote winner with the indigenous electorate regardless of voters ethnicity so why the need of fascism when you can have populist democratic government ?

There's also something else wrong with this premise - why does the slow extinction of mankind lead to so much nihilism ? Put it like this: you've been diagnosed with a terminal illness meaning you have a few years to live so how would you live out your time ? Would you face the future with dignity and calm going about your life as you always have or would you become entirely apathetic about life or would you use the time you have embarking on hedonism ? I think most people would choose one of these options but very few people would genuinely become violent apocalyptic nihilists as seen here

It's been said that Alfonso Cuaron doesn't like to explain narrative turns similar to Michelangelo Antonio and it shows . The characters are often underdeveloped and their motives are often unclear. Like the government we never find out what motivates the terrorists and apart from casting Julianne Moore and Michael Caine in a rather cynical attempt to bump up the box office is their any reason for their characters to exist in the screenplay ? Neither Julian or Jasper contribute anything to the confused plot

Having said all this Cuaron excels in the visuals . The grimy London of the future is certainly memorable while the battle scene towards the end is right there with SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and BLACK HAWK DOWN . Also well done is the ambush in the countryside with the burning car and it's those scenes that will linger long in the memory long after you've forgotten the often risible screenplay

All in all CHILDREN OF MEN is a very frustrating , flawed film . It's by no means the masterpiece many claim it is . It's interesting how many American critics enjoyed it . Could it be that America is more religious in its outlook and recognised an ecclesiastical subtext to the story such as having the protagonist called Theodore who sacrifices his life for the future of mankind ? Perhaps , but this screenplay won an Oscar nomination and if anyone thinks is a great screenplay then gawd help us all
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1/10
This has to be a joke....(a 5 user resume)
TzoTang5 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Unbelievable what I read about this movie! I don't have one single positive comment to make about it since during the entire movie I only contemplated whether to leave or see it through hoping to see it turn for the better and at least get my money's worth.

What a bore. What a lack of suspense. What an inane script. What a poor plot, it leads nowhere. The story totally fails to unravel, it is poorly acted, especially by Clair Hope Ashity who puts in an abysmal amateur performance and Julianne Moore who is just an add on to attract some viewers but more than clearly fails to impress during her way too brief appearance. The Human Project is mentioned continuously during the movie and comes up as a boat named Tomorrow? Please! Give us a break!

You would think that somewhere in the process of writing, directing, and producing this unmitigated disaster of a film, someone would have paused and said "eh...guys....what 'TF' are we doing here exactly?". The characters have absolutely zero depth, the setting is more artificial than a Borg cube, and the storyline....well, I'm still trying to figure out what the storyline WAS, exactly.

Things not explained in this movie include: the title, The Human Project, the infertility, the reason for the treatment of the immigrants, what happened to the rest of the world, why Julianne Moore is offed by the Fishes, what the Fishes actually DO to help immigrants (other than kill every native they encounter???), how the Fishes believe that having the baby will save THEM (not just provide hope for humanity), why the army wouldn't immediately take the mother and child into custody rather than letting them stroll through a gun battle, why they wouldn't have gone worldwide public with the news of a pregnancy or birth to begin with, given the celebrity of the youngest person on earth, and I could go on and on and on. If this is the thought-provoking side of this film everyone is talking about then I think I just wet my pants. That's not thought provoking, it's…plain stupidity?

And the lack of logic in the movie is just stupendous.Starting with their "silent" escape from the farm, when they were opening and closing car doors and trunks with enormous noise 5 meters from their captors. And ending with the unreasonably hopeful mood of the terrible 'ending', despite the absolute uselessness of having one accidental baby for the restoration of the world. Sweet lord, some of you reviewers are seriously disparate for a hopeful state of mind, aren't you.

This is the third movie I recently saw based on high ratings and claims of superb acting, story, directing and cinematography and have been utterly disappointed with. We all know that there will be film companies out there writing their own rave reviews, but I'm beginning to question if there are not now rave review factories fixing the movie ratings on IMDb. Just as is done with internet search engines. I simply don't believe that a movie can get such great reviews and then turn out to be so blatantly poor.
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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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1/10
Betrayal of Men
evycomelately4 January 2008
This film seems to have received incredible high praise and is currently listed in the Top250 of this website. I hate to fly in the face of such adoration, but this film left me completely indifferent and rather irritated if not highly annoyed. Sure, there are a few nice setpieces, but it's all set against a hack-handed background rendering them only a mild distraction from the otherwise continuous amazement at the film's triteness and mindboggling illogical plotpoints. The film is poorly structured and almost entirely if not completely un-engaging with the most lame and sappy ending I have ever seen to a film.

This film is supposed to be full of big ideas on Britain's dystopian future and the reactions of the public to an infertility plagued society. Angry youth throwing rocks at trains, the rails to Auschwitz have been reopened and are deporting the fugees (not the band) back to where they came from (hell) and even the spectrum of light is somehow compromised*. With this kind of background, you'd expect the movie to actually focus on any of it, something which this movie is acclaimed for. But apart from the main characters being in a bad mood for 90 brief minutes, there is surprisingly little this movie reflects on. The exposition on these theme's was simply replaced by endless shots of people being deported Nazi-style, the English countryside and mind-numbing dialog that was doing little else than driving the weary plot onward. The whole infertility and the world-gone-to-hell themes could just as well have been left out entirely and it wouldn't have made any difference to the actual storyline of two people on the run.

*Truly Amazing that someone would spent enormous amounts of money on expensive filming equipment only to make the actual picture look like it was shot by my Uncle Fred (who has Parkinson's) who just got his Handicam yesterday for Christmas and is still working his way through the manual which is written in Chinese and which apparently only describes how to deprive the picture of colour.

In Children of men subtlety was not allowed. Everything is as bad as bad comes and even good is apparently bad. The sets look over the top sleazy, our main characters are anything but likable, a pasture of grazing cows has been replaced by a smouldering pile of meat and bones, the rebels simply kill their leader over a dispute or kill policemen when they turn up at the wrong place at the wrong time. The overemphasized way of portraying such a dull and drab doomsday landscape as was done in Children of Men, surely would bother anyone who is not into cartoonistic film-making but in stead likes some subtlety on any subject matter if indeed this is presented in a serious movie. Maybe I misunderstood, but I believed that's what this movie was.

Meanwhile in the film, the script is pretty awful. Caine certainly tries his utmost with it, but his lines are one-note and much too viewer-informative only to result in a feeling of 'we get it already, move on please..". Owen is his usual wooden self and thus type-casted perfectly in the role of Theo Faron, a morose lower government official who couldn't give a fart about anything. Although I really liked his performance, his character is screenplayed terribly and I couldn't give an equal fart about his fate in the movie. Next up a utterly forgettable cameo by Julianne Moore, some B-actors to play the bad guys lead by Chiwetel Ejiofor who since his performance in Serenity for me lost all credibility as an actor. And newcomer Claire Hope Ashity as the Black Virgin Mary who does little more than swear a lot, which by modern standards, is apparently good enough for a 'solid performance' in the books of the critics. Frankly, her performance wouldn't even cut it on Eastenders.

The story in Children of Men is practically non-existent and covered not much more than an action packed chase from the old peril to the land of deliverance. But this was done on purpose to not loose focus on the sublime messages it miserably failed to communicate because they forgot to include them. As a result many of the scenes drag relentlessly while jarring opera music and a hate-crime of a muzak cover-version of 'Ruby Tuesday' plundered that what was left of the viewer's will to live. Indeed, it's really all that bleak and pointless. But intentionally so! The end result of all this is an aesthetic crime against the art-loving moviegoer or the one with more than 2 brain cells to rub together.

The end result is also one that is critically acclaimed by nothing less than the entire society of professional movie critics minus one or two who probably didn't receive the letter which stated they would get a nice percentage of the movie's revenues when their review would be kind. Seriously, you'd think all these glowing reviews and those on this website, were written by people who had somehow managed to miss the entirety of Western cinema.

The gourmet-fare that is Children of men is actually a night out at the McDonald's of film-making where the second bite of your food is already spoiling the experience of the first. Let us all gather in prayer and hope that there won't be a sequel. Unless the sequel was already made when they created 'Shoot Em Up'. Another highly creative movie in which mr. Owen is once again protecting a baby that people are trying to kill.

Evy
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8/10
a must see= brilliant and fresh
blestang25 October 2006
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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5/10
Revelation? Not by a long shot.
Azrael26925 February 2007
Set in a slightly futuristic world filled with racial hatred and terrorism, a former activist (Clive Owen) takes up the task to escort to safety the first pregnant woman in 18 years. He has to battle through extreme situations with danger lurking around every corner of a war-weary England.

Clive Owen attempts a rather melodramatic role in this war drama, not without success. However, his otherwise interesting performance is shadowed by the actual storyline. The film attempts to show a world in turmoil, filled with death and with no hope of new life. However, it fails to instill any hope and even fails to instill despair. It begins without any premonition of greatness, unfolds into something of interest but falters somewhere half-way, leaving the viewer with a sense of apathy.

Not that it is a bad film. The direction is rather good, the acting overall inspiring, the battle scenes giving the feeling of a BBC documentary of conflict in Iraq or Saudi Arabia. The storyline unfolds rather predictably, however, and the twists of the plot are more or less common and outdated. In the end, it's the atmosphere of the film that lets the viewer down. Where this could have been a glorious epic of hope amidst the ruins, it ends up being an indifferent film about some guy and a woman running around among people with guns.
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1/10
Total Confusion
ReadyToLeaveEarthNow6 December 2007
I'm confused. Very much so even...

I just saw Children of Men. A movie which currently holds a stunning nr 147# position on IMDb and is critically acclaimed. A movie with also little to no plot (and what it had was dumbfoundingly illogical and übersimplistic), wasted performances by otherwise fine to even great actors and a political or social slant so inane, so completely sophomoric that it's hard to believe this movie was made as a serious attempt at social commentary. Alas, the extra's on the DVD leave no room for ambiguity. No spoof here, this was meant to be serious...

So we have one fertile/pregnant woman amidst 3 billion who are not. We have an organisation presented to us in a lame stork-joke, which ocupies itself with getting the human race fertile again. That is, if this organisation even exists. They set out to find a raft to paddle to that phantom organisation which is said to bob somewhere around the coast of England. Why they chose to not just buy a raft but get one in one of the most violent parts of the country where bullets fly freely, tanks shoot at anything that moves and walking cameramen are trying to set records for the longest single-take ever made, all this with presumably the only infant alive in the world, is never even remotely tried to be explained.

I really don't mind that pompous, vacuous films are being made under the pretext of being subtle, deep and insightful. What gets a rise out of me is that people can't see a really terribly made movie for what it is, but in stead sing praise, forgive the exuberant defects they are willing to admit this movie has and vote it a ten anyway, without breaking a sweat. Like the headline-reading buffoons or game-console addicts they are.

Shame, especially to the professional moviecritics who along their careers surely must have seen movies like The Usual Suspects for plot and suspense, Full Metal Jacket for steadycam cinematography, It happened One Night for social commentary and God knows how many other quality films that have been produced over the years.

No, these movies were in fact never made. Apparently the line was drawn at October 2006, conveniently forgetting that a particular scene should display some profundity if you accompany it by long and abstruse orchestral manouvres. Forgetting that movies used to have some form of plot other than something any writer for Sesame Street could come up with using nothing but a broken pen and a paper napkin. And Forgetting that overexposing, completely plotdriven and patronizing scripts don't usually help the actors to do their jobs convincingly nor challenge a moviegoer in any way.

But..you've already seen this caper.
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3/10
A disastrous adaptation
Carl_Tait2 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
*** This review contains HUGE SPOILERS for the movie AND THE BOOK ***

Although I don't usually write reviews with spoilers, this total botch of a film requires me to discuss several essential plot points in order to explain just how poorly the movie has been made.

Films need not slavishly follow the books on which they are based. Movies often need to remove minor subplots and to rearrange certain details for dramatic effect. With that said, however, Alfonso Cuaron's dreadful screenplay manages to take a pretty good book by P. D. James and turn it into a preachy, incoherent mess driven largely by fight scenes, chase scenes, and heavy-handed political statements.

Let's start with the climax of the film: for the first time in over eighteen years, a child is born. Excuse me, but aside from the novelty value, why should anyone in that sad world care? No one knows what's causing the sterility, so there's no reason to believe that the birth is anything but a fluke. Even if the child herself turns out to be fertile, there are now two fertile women in the entire world. Big deal.

This illogical point is nowhere to be found in the book. The novel makes it clear that only men have become sterile, so finding even one fertile man would indeed be a basis for hope that the world might regenerate. The father of the child is clearly fertile, and the battle for his sperm is charged with both dramatic and political interest. The child also turns out to be a boy, providing additional hope. Unfortunately, Cuaron ditched this logical and interesting story in favor of a soft-headed Christian/feminist allegory that doesn't work at all. Worse yet, he allows the movie to plod onwards through a mind-numbing half hour of tedious fight scenes after the climactic birth.

The book raises some thought-provoking issues about how such a society might function. Much of the book's thoughtful balance is achieved through the back-and-forth between Theo and his friend Xan. Xan? Who the hell is that? Xan is the nominal leader of England and one of the book's central characters. Replacing him with some minor bureaucrat who has about two minutes of screen time was a fatal error. The moral ambiguities of Xan's edicts -- should even minor criminals be carted off to some hell-hole prison to preserve order in a crisis? -- have been replaced by ham-handed and endlessly repeated scenes of illegal immigrants being mistreated and deported.

Cuaron could have taken this interesting story, tightened it up a bit (the book is too drawn-out), and ended up with a fine film of psychological and moral complexity. Unfortunately, he took the opposite route, grossly oversimplifying the ethical issues and focusing on the tiresome chases and fights that represent the book's weakest moments. A major disappointment.
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10/10
A Wonderful Surprise
DansLaLuna5 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this movie at a screening a few months ago. I admit I wouldn't normally buy a ticket based on the premise, but I love Alfonso Cuarons work and I covet Clive Owen. Here was a review I posted at the time.

Last night I had the opportunity to attend a screening of "Children of Men" which I jumped at. Although I love Alfonso Cuaron's work, the driving force in getting me to see this film is Clive Owen. I didn't read the book, but I knew a little going in. It is a Sci-fi piece that takes place in the near future, and the world is infertile. This is not something that I would normally buy a ticket for but again, my boyfriend was in it, so I was there. Firstly I can say that though this piece is touted as Sci-fi, it is a far cry from it. The whole movie had a very realistic feel to it. The time is 2027 and the settings are almost post-apocalyptic. There is a huge crack down on immigrants, who at this day and age, are treated with disdain, hatred and violence. There are key scenes in the movie that are reminiscent of Nazi Germany. The movie takes place between London and the English countryside. There is filth, trash, rot, decay and death everywhere. The attention to detail in this stark life is prominent in every scene, it's brilliant. I loved this movie!

The movie opens with the death of the worlds youngest citizen, who was just 18. This kid was a celebrity simply for being the last human being ever born, and the world goes into mourning, the inevitability of becoming extinct has just become even more apparent to all. Clive Owen's reluctant Theo is pulled into a plot by his activist Ex-wife, Julianne Moore, to save a girl who has a little secret. This girl, Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey) is pregnant and an immigrant. Theo is pulled in different directions, not knowing whom to trust in a world which would embrace having a baby, but wouldn't acknowledge (and probably kill) the baby's mother because of her immigrant status. Theo is not a hero type, and would rather just take slugs off his Scotch Whiskey than save the world. He never even picks up a gun. Theo is aided by his friend Jasper, the Patriarch of pot, played to the hilt by Michael Caine. I couldn't help but smile every time Caine was on the screen, he was such a pleasure to watch, and you could tell he was having a hell of a good time with this part. Jasper lives in a house out in the woods with his sick wife and his pot plants. This house is the only place in the movie that translates to any type of peace or light, as are the scenes between Owen & Caine. Theo's ultimate plan is to get Kee and her baby to a boat that will lead them to safety and freedom. Along the way they learn that the people they should be able to trust, can't be trusted, and the ones who look a bit on the dicey side turn out to be OK, just a bit insane.

I don't want to go much more into the storyline, having been abused here before for including too much of the story. One thing I did notice early on, which became a main stay in the movie, was the presence of animals. Having not read the book, I am guessing that animals are more prevalent in families, to take the place of children. There are very few scenes in this movie where you won't see or hear a dog or cat. Also, this movie is a very visual one. I didn't expect as much violence as there was and some of it sneaks up on you and hits you on the head. There is a lot of hand held camera action, which can tend to get kinda shaky. And the use of sound in this movie is key. There is a scene towards the end of the movie done in long-shot where one sound literally stops the world, for a minute, it's literally breathtaking. It was also interesting to see how the immigrants were set-up in the camps. There was some segregation, but for the most part you had all different types of people from all over the world living together in these hovels; in the halls, on the stairs, every race and religion, crammed together, for survival sake. I guess some people might say the movie is slow, but Owen was on the screen the whole time and I AM biased, so I think at about 1 hour 35 minutes, it moved fine and overall I think it was a great film. I don't know how Universal is going to market this, but I think if they do it right they could have a sleeper hit on their hands.
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4/10
Slick production of pretentious claptrap
lance246 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This well directed first rate production can't overcome the film's pretense that it is "deep" or "meaningful"; in fact, for all it's production value, the movie is, at its core, meritricious. Those reading the astonishing number of positive reviews beware--this is a classic example of viewers bringing preconceived expectations to a movie and then agreeing with their own pre-assessments even though the film they watched sorely missed the mark. At heart, the story is simple: the world has been infertile for unknown reasons for 18 years. As a result, everyone is in a bad mood for the entire film, except Michael Caine, who looks like a refugee from the 60's, growing marijuana, and giving avuncular advice to Clive Owen while getting high. Clive Owen, one of our great actors, is perfectly cast as an angry man working at a meaningless job while an apparent perpetual riot is ongoing in London, the last of the world's major cities not to have been destroyed. Ener Julianne Moore, divorced for 20 years from Mr. Owen. Nonetheless, she has him kidnapped to assist in a critical mission--the delivery to safety of a Young black woman (symbolically and obviously named Kee) who is about to have the world's first infant (obviously a woman) in nearly two decades. While one could think of twenty important issues raised by the premise of the film (religious, social, philosophical, etc.) the great failure of the film is that is doesn't deal with any of them--content to watch Owen scowl, Caine fart and various lunatics babble in foreign tongues. In any event, Owen undertakes this mission and effectively delivers the mother and child to safety. Left behind, however, is a nightmare of war, riot, lunacy, rival factions, and general mayhem. Are we supposed to believe that the birth of one child will transmogrify the "end of days" world she's born into? Who knows and who cares? The director's job is to make the issues surface--and not supply a story from which we can create our own meaning. As far as I'm concerned, the film was an equivalent of a blank canvass and the viewers are supposed to supply meaning to it. This ain't art history, it's film. In the end, I couldn't help comparing this film to Sam Mendes great failure "Road to Perdition"; while it was technically superior, it painted a small story on a big canvas and, ultimately, had nothing to say to me. Potential viewers are on notice!
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1/10
Waiting for a story which is just not there
Vozzywuzzy27 June 2007
Watching Children of Men was a really odd experience. Expecting at least something above average, all I got was something almost amateuristic.

I don't know, but I like my movies with something of a story or plot to it. Especially when a premise as in Children of Men provides an abundance of opportunity to do just that. What they did with it, came off slightly B-movie-ish and so did much of the cinematography with that nauseating homevideo-style cameramatics and bits of the acting as well. Why this movie is adored by so many people I cannot begin to fathom. Was the polling rigged in some way?

The movie is basically a chase-flick in which a woman and her baby are escorted to a safe-haven while everyone helping her get offed during the travel. The whole premise of a barren world was completely wasted when the movie sloppily turns into this chase-vehicle, leaving its original dystopian backstory being merely an afterthought. The way they tried to pull it back in during the chase-sequences (e.g. the abandoned classroom scene) was clumsily forced, as were all the 'references' to: the immigration issue, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, The Bush Empire and what have you more. If you have something to say about these issues then say it, a movie is a great format for that. But surely they deserve much more than just a lazy nod in their general direction in some underdeveloped chase-movie.

What I truly don't understand is why they didn't make the characters more likable. After all, we as onlookers are following their plight and should be concerned with it. When I watched this movie I had no sympathy or empathy for any of the characters or their predicament. This simply because they were either not very well portrayed (The sketchy part of Jullianne Moore), unlikable (Theo, Kee, the 'Fish') or Simpsons-like cartoon-figures (Sid, Jasper, that gypsy woman).

I am a sucker for chase movies and that was the only reason I sat through the entirety of this mess. But even the chase plot didn't work for me at all. So many improbabilities* in the shovel-fed storyline and the pacing was just so off, rendering it ultra boring. A patronizing script making sure that every imbecile and his five brain cells got what was going on and the jarring soundtrack suitably missed the mark completely while multi-featuring the worst Stones-cover to date. Which was rather annoying.

*I mean if Tom Hanks can build a raft from FedEx wrapping paper, I'm sure they could have built something seaworthy from the abundant piles of trash scattered throughout the sets.. did they really have to go to that refugee camp being exposed to all that violence with a baby? I thought they were trying to save it, not getting it killed...

A complete mishap as far as I'm concerned with a most embarrassing 'ending' when almost out of nothing "Children of men" is blazon upon the screen in bold print. My oh my...

Acting: 5 Story: 2 Cinematography:3 Script: 2 Soundtrack: 2
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1/10
Derisory story poorly executed, pretentious rubbish.
Gorgon Zola7 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
A good day to all.

Children of Men was not a good movie and although the subject matter logically has a mass appeal which has probably lead to the incredible high rating, I'd really wish people would quit voting purely on the entertainment aspect. Needless to say, a movie should score highly on a variety of aspects if it is to be anywhere near the level of a true top-250 film.

I really enjoyed e.g. Spielberg's War of the worlds, again because of the subject matter. But that is not to say that that is a great movie either. Great it truly is not, even though Spielberg did a much better job directing it and the cinematography and the acting can't even be compared to that of Children of Men.

Children of Men has an absurd premise. In stead of depicting a world where human fertility has dropped significantly resulting in chaos, we are to swallow that 'over night' women stopped giving birth period (did the aliens from Worlds finally get it right this time?) and that the only country which can deal with this is Great Britain partially due to the introduction of a nazi-like regime. Why the rest of the world failed to do so is never explained just like everything else which is thought up as the storyline progressed.

The story which is served is equally as absurd as the premise. In a nutshell we are to believe that the birth of a single baby doesn't sound the dawn of a new age but in stead will lead to scientists implementing what 'naturally' happened to this horribly acted Kee on a global scale? This to further the idea that despite the self-destructive nature of humans we are still in control of our fate? Or the proof of the existence of God since it wouldn't be possible for ordinary people to stroll through a warzone with a freshly born child being shot at with endless rounds of amo and survive? Again, this is not explained in the movie, narratives were absent much like any memorable acting, the cameo of Caine aside.

The baby being born into the childless world has no real enemies, only the opposite. Yet it is being hauled through a warzone on a tip by a stoned and aging hippie whose purpose in life is to have his fart-finger pulled, in order to reach a certain group of people who's intentions remain completely vague throughout the entire film? Sigh, how utterly stupid. In 2027 there are only two boats left? One in a warzone and one owned by the 'Human project'? Sounds more like a video game to me, hardly like the story of top-rated movie.

No plot development, no character depth, serious low-budget-feel cinematography and a script without any poignancy. Nothing in this movie that would make it worthy of its high ranking. Totally out of place action-shooter war-scenes and the cheap Hollywood appeal on the senses which initially seemed to be left out, magically appears (alongside the terrorist cell) during the urban shoot-out and henceforth during the so called ending of this movie. The boat being called 'The Tomorrow' came straight out of the Shallowwood textbook and made me bite my teeth till they finally broke off one by one.

The poorly developed chase story which CoM basically is, is just too one-dimensional and frankly just straight out flimsy and it got boring fast. And it is so filled with implausibilities that even the greatest mathematicians of our present world will not be able to count them all.

This movie could have been much much more if its back-story had been fleshed out to some degree and its storyline aspiring to be more than just covering a bunch of people constantly traveling from one dreary set to the next. Preferably with one or two strong and discerning messages (and not a score of them which are never explored and certainly had nothing to do with the actual storyline, making it the pretentious twaddle it truly became) and performed by actors worthy of playing next to Caine.

An unarguably over-hyped piece of pretentious rubbish. Simply a vehicle for art-director Lubezki to play around with his camera and editing-room and for Cuaron to bludgeon the audience with disjointed references to contemporary issues with no tale to tell. A typical product of the headline-society we've become with on par appreciation.
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5/10
Much Ado About Nothing
chris-imdb-1117 March 2007
I have visited IMDb for many years and I have been so moved by the fuss about this film that I had to register and comment. What is a film without a real story? The cinematography is good but I have just come away from watching this film with a sense of nothing. It is 1984 without being sinister. It is the same as "28 Days". There are no explanations to anything in the plot. Characters are one dimensional and poorly developed, and has just been pointed out by my fiancé that the continuity in the scene with the ginger cat is awful !!! The person who chose the soundtrack deserves to be employed again as it was one of the few reasons to sit through the credits at the end of them film. Distinctly average !
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