THE CHILDREN OF
STARRING: Clive Owen, Julianne
Moore, Gary Oldman, Charlie Hunnam, Chiwetel Ejiofor
2006, 109 Minutes, Directed by:
is the year 2027 and the world’s youngest person has just died. What makes this
particularly newsworthy is the fact that he was 18 years of age. See, for the
past 18 years or so women across the planet have been infertile and unable to
bear any children. No-one is exactly sure why this happened. Pollution? A
genetic fluke? No-one knows for sure.
Needless to say the fact that
the entire human race would be extinct in about fifty years or so has left a
bitter taste in humanity’s collective mouths and the world is going to hell in a
hand basket in an orgy of nihilist anger and violence. What’s the point of the
human endeavor is no-one is left around in a few years’ time to appreciate our
efforts? As random violence spread, the regime in Britain has become
increasingly obsessed with the whole issue of illegal immigrants and Muslim
terrorism and has descended into a brutal dictatorship. Movement without passes
is an impossibility and travel in the countryside a dangerous prospect because
of a lawlessness and gangs of marauders.
Into this familiar dystopian
milieu steps Theo (Clive Owen), a cynical and embittered civil servant (yeah, I
know that describes most of them anyway). Except for the occasional visit to an
ex-political activist friend of his (played excellently by a long-haired Michael
Caine) life seems pretty pointless until one day he is contacted by his ex-wife
(Julianne Moore). Moore’s character belongs to a “terrorist” organization
opposed to the current British regime and they have made a startling discovery
that would give humanity hope again . . .
"Strong contender for the best science fiction film of 2006 . . ."
This latest film by talented
director Alfonso Cuarón of Harry Potter and the
Prisoner of Azkaban and Y Tu Mamá También fame is simply put one of
the best films of 2006 . . . in any genre, be it science fiction or anything
else. It works well as both science fiction drama and action thriller.
Science fiction fans will in
particular enjoy Cuarón’s brilliant realization of the now familiar black
uniformed soldier-run dystopia which has been a staple of the genre since
Brazil and rehashed in anything from
Barbwire to the more recent
V for Vendetta. But whereas the future depicted in V for Vendetta is
pure comic book stuff, the one in Children of Men is incredibly gritty
and real. The same goes for the film’s action scenes, in particular an extended
urban combat scene that is so intense and well executed that it puts Stanley
Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket to shame.
Like the recent
V for Vendetta, Children of Men isn’t
really about the future, but about our post-9/11 present. Europeans, and in
particular Brits, will find the obsession with illegal immigrants and radical
Islamism, the decline in civil liberties and the concept of zero population
growth familiar, if grossly exaggerated. It is this gross exaggeration that
makes it fair to describe Children of Men as a satire of contemporary
times (remember, satires needn’t be funny).
Add to the film’s very poignant
central plot conceit some unexpected twists, a very clever and literate
screenplay, realistic production designs and some great acting by the principal
cast and you have a film that is a strong contender for the best science fiction
film of the year even though the truth is that it is the sort of film that would
be appreciated by even those who usually despise the genre.
Watch Trailer / Clip: