April 7, 2007

Children of Men - $4

I expected a lot from Children of Men, it has been widely praised and reviewed as an outstanding science fiction movie with stark imagery and a frighteningly prophetic look into the future. For me it did not live up to this high billing.

Children of Men takes place in 2027, no person on earth has had a baby in over 18 years and humanity is in complete and total chaos. Set in England, Children of Men also shows a future where illegal immigrants are being rounded up and deported or killed. There are massive refugee camps everywhere and anarchy reigns in these camps. The story follows Theo, a former activist who is thrust back into a rebel movement he left long ago to help a miraculously pregnant woman avoid government detection.

Where Children of Men is successful is in some of it's imagery, there are some incredible cinematographic moments in this movie, particularly in the battle scenes in the storey's climax.

Where Children of Men fails for me is nearly everywhere else. While at times the cinematography was gripping, at other times it had the feel of a home movie. This method of going back and forth between regular movie making and documentary style filming was unconvincing and left Children of Men with a TV movie feel.

The writing does not make up for the choppy filming style. The characters are one dimensional and the dialogue reminded me of an airport novel. Even Michael Caine could not make up for the bad script he was given, though he and Clive Owen (Theo) deserve credit for their effort.

Though there is some creative imagery, overall this is a movie full of unexplained plot lines, cheesy stereotypical characters and a picture of the future so bleak it's laughable. It was never clear to me what connection the lack of fertility on earth had with the complete and total crumbling of society. I suppose there is an implication that with no children there is no future, but why that would make people all over the world give up on any sense of order is never explained.

Children of Men is on my 'Don't Watch It' list and I give it a somewhat generous value of $4 due to it's imagery and a couple of adequate acting performances.


Coutts said...

disappointing when a great plot idea gets butchered.

Sheamus the... said...

oh man...i loved this movie. Some of the shots are freaking insane. The only thing i didnt really like was the pregnant girl...her acting and some of her lines got on my nerves. but I did indeed love this movie. I thought it should have won best cinematography.

Tony Tanti said...

sheamus, I get that. As I was watching it I thought that the imagery was amazing. I couldn't get past the hokey writing though, the performances were ok but I thought a lot of the dialogue was pretty cliche.

I know a lot of people loved it though so I'm aware I could be alone on a limb on this one.

Jeff Coutts said...

I did not LOVE this movie. But I really really really enjoyed it. The dialogue was not stellar, but it was still better than most movies out there so I don't really see where you are coming from here. The acting was great for the most part. I agree, there were a few stereotypical characters but again, what movie doesn't have these? I can understand why you didn't love this movie but I can't understand why you gave it $4 dollars based on bad dialogue and "300" still get $8. This is absurd.

The visuals in the movie were outstanding and never once did I feel like I was watching a TV movie. The great thing about the visuals in this movie is that they served a purpose for telling the story from one mans perspective. Unlike most movies that try to dazzle you with imagery that has no purpose at all. We see everything as it is happening to the main character and that is why a lot is not explained. Although I didn't feel like anything was left a mystery. No, the movie did not spell it out for you, but I think that one of it's strengths.

You said, "It was never clear to me what connection the lack of fertility on earth had with the complete and total crumbling of society. I suppose there is an implication that with no children there is no future, but why that would make people all over the world give up on any sense of order is never explained."

This is a ridiculous comment. Maybe it's never explained because your supposed to think about it. And if they would have explained it anymore it would have become a childrens movie. I don't get this criticism.

All in all, this wasn't a perfect movie, but how you only gave it $4 dollars is beyond me.

Tony Tanti said...

jeff, nice, I like your feistiness.

I don't the comment you pulled out as ridiculous at all. Children of Men paints a very Orwellian picture of the future, doom and gloom and human failure to maintain any control all over the world. The only thing the movie offers as even a remote explanation of this is that noone is having babies anymore. That is ridiculous!

The TV movie comment came from the feel I got in every scene at the hippie's house. Cliche is not a strong enough word for those scenes. Also I couldn't get over the switch to documentary filming, especially when blood splattered on the screen and stayed there.

I wonder if I should give this movie another shot though, none of the people I watched it with liked it and that may have affected me. I might be able to overlook the bad writing but I'm not convinced I'd rate it higher if I saw it again.

And we disagree on 300, that's been made clear. 300 was exactly what they said it was, entertaining imagery. Nobody was trying to win an oscar but it was fun to watch. As far as I know you haven't even seen it yet so the comparison is moot.

Jeff Coutts said...

Dave, I probably shouldn't have brought up "300" again, I just couldn't resist.

I don't feel like your comment about switching to documentary style is valid. The movie is quite consistent througout. The opening scene follows the main character for some time before anything actually happens, and it has a very real feel to it. The rest of movie follows this feel.

I don't see how you can say this movie offers no explanation. Sure it never came out and said, "this is exactely why people are reacting this way", but it didn't need to. The reasons were alluded to again and again. It was done in subtle ways through tv reports, and things people would say in general conversation. In no way were we left in the dark about how the world got to that state, and in no way were we expected to simply accept it without reason. The reasons were definately there, but you have to look for them.

I can see where you are coming from in a lot of your criticism's, but if you listen to me on one thing, listen to me on this one. I think your dislike for the movie made you miss how much it was actually portraying and communication effectively. And if you gave it another shot, I'm confident you would see this too.

Tony Tanti said...

Alright Jeff, I'll watch it with you next time we see each other.