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WGUC Reviews

Children of Men

Children of Men
Universal Pictures
Rated R
Review by: Larry Thomas


Most people have an opinion of what the future might be like. Some of the most imaginative among us manage to turn this vision into really good science fiction. And the really good science fiction mirrors our own contemporary society in one way or another.

Many of those sci-fi tales have a decidedly grim view of what may be anticipated by future generations: Francois Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451; Ridley Scott's Blade Runner; Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange; Richard Fleischer's Soylent Green and Val Guest's The day The Earth Caught Fire come immediately to mind.

And such is the case with the recently released Children Of Men; based on the novel by P.D. James, and tipping it's cinematic cap in one way or another to all of those films.

Children Of Men is set in the London of 2027. The youngest person on Earth has just died at the age of nineteen. Most of the world's countries have collapsed into chaos. England is on the verge of coming apart at the seams. All women have been infertile for years. The immigrant population is being rounded up, caged and deported. Or worse. And all under the watchful eye of "Homeland Security." Masked gunmen are waging war in the streets against the military. If these scenes sound familiar, yes, the film is as much contemporary allegory as it is science fiction.

Into this bleak scenario comes news that there is one pregnant woman. She is an African immigrant who doesn't stand a chance surviving the current political regime. All the self-absorbed warring factions are consumed with using her for their particular cause. Does the future of mankind, and by extension planet Earth, rest with the survival of this one child to come?

Director Alfonso Cuaron, who has helmed films as varied as Y Tu Mama Tambien and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, has created a film that skillfully blends action, suspense, and, yes, even humanity into one entertaining, beautifully filmed, well acted film. Not only is it thrilling, but also there's much to ponder about what direction our planet is headed. While 2027 will probably be no more like this film than 2001 turned out to be when viewed from 1968, it's still intriguing to pose the often-asked question "what if…"

A particularly outstanding cast brings much to their roles. Clive Owen is a disillusioned civil servant, who just goes through the motions of daily life. He does have one bright spot however: an old friend named Jasper, a leftover hippie who listens to sixties music and lives in a secluded area where he can care for his invalid wife and grow marijuana. While the role isn't much of a stretch for Michael Caine, it's always good to see a grand old pro at his best. In the course of events, a gang of thugs unceremoniously kidnaps Owen on behalf of his former wife, Julianne Moore. She wants to recruit him to assist in getting the pregnant Kee to a group called "The Human Project." Also along for the ride is Chiwetel Eijofor, the excellent British actor who really doesn't have much to do, but like Caine, always manages to do it well. There are also terrific supporting roles by an unrecognizable Danny Huston (John's son), and Peter Mullan, as a corrupt immigration officer who always refers to himself in the third person.

The terrific music is by British classical composer John Tavener, whose work is evocative and moving. His original score, along with a couple of pieces by Handel and Mahler, are on a separate CD from the one featuring covers of all the great sixties tunes used in the film.

Most of the plot twists are fairly obvious, and like many ugly views of the future, everything about Children Of Men has a dark, grimy look to it. But despite this, it has elements of humanity and optimism that seem to be missing from some of the other films. Is this child a miracle? Perhaps. Just a small miracle. But don't most of us need just a small miracle now and then.


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