When I reviewed “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” I praised director Alfonso Cuaron for his visually stunning direction and
creativity in telling a story that could have just been a standard adaptation.
“Children of Men” is the more of the same; the same phenomenal camerawork and the same excellence in adaptation.
The film is loosely based on a novel of the same name by P.D. James. In the year 2027 the human race faces extinction because women can
no longer have children.
Theo Faron, played by Clive Owen, has given up hope for humanity. That is, until he discovers that Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey) is pregnant
with the first child in 18 years.
It falls upon Theo to protect Kee and deliver her to the mysterious group known as The Human Project before the corrupt government or
power-seeking factions can claim her.
What ensues is a masterful science-fiction thriller. Cuaron’s direction is always excellent in the film, but it is the action sequences that are
absolutely jaw dropping. The cinematography is phenomenal. There is an early scene where a car is assaulted by a rioting mob. It is one
continuous shot for several minutes.
However, even that is nothing compared to a truly climactic and epic shot that runs for nearly nine minutes long as Theo tries to rescue Kee
in the middle of the war zone that England has become. It has to be seen to be believed and fully appreciated.
But “Children of Men” is more than stunningly shot action sequences. The plot is very good with some excellent twists and characters.
The cast is quite good with Clive Owen leading the way. He has a certain likeable darkness to him that put him in the running for James
Bond and works perfectly in this mostly bleak film. Michael Caine is also much appreciated in a supporting role, as a pot-smoking hippy,
that gives the movie a much needed sense of humor.
The problems with the film are not so much what it does, but what it doesn’t do. We never get an explanation of why women stop having
children or discover much about The Human Project. Cuaron also seems to interject a bit too much of his politics on immigration into the
film. It just doesn’t seem all that relevant to the story. The ending is also satisfying, but a bit abrupt because we still have a lot of questions.
Nevertheless, Children of Men is a phenomenal piece of filmmaking that is intelligent, entertaining, and emotional. It’s one of the finest
films of 2006 and is highly recommended.
* * * 1/2
(out of four)
Directed by: Alfonso Cuaron
Written by: Alfonso Cuaron & Timothy J. Sexton and
David Arata and Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby
Starring: Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine,
Cinematography by: Emmanuel Lubezki
Music by: John Tavener
Released: December 25, 2006; 109 Minutes