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#19761 03/30/07 02:18 AM
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Kate Offline OP
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Like last year's Code 46, Children of Men (CoM) is set in the near future when escalating social problems force authoritarian regimes to invoke drastic "solutions" on the world's populace. Unlike Code 46 though, CoM is not a love story, it's much harder-edged and ugly. It's also got oodles of action as well. CoM is best described as a sci-fi road movie, it's also surprisingly good, certainly one of the better sci-fi releases of recent years.

CoM is set in England in 2027, where London appears to be the last place where "normal" society still goes on. Due to some unspecified environmental disaster, humans have become sterile. The biggest celebrity on the planet is the youngest person alive ? the last baby born, who is now an 18 year old. Unfortunately, he doesn't stay alive too long, stabbed in a brawl which triggers a Princess Diana style outpouring of grief across the globe.

Our hero, played by Clive Owen, is a cubicle gnome working in some Brazil-like future-Britain bureaucracy. Owen, against all the odds, actually manages to turn in a decent performance in this movie, far better than his recent outings in the woeful I'll Sleep When I'm Dead and hugely over-rated Croupier. His performance in CoM is, as usual, wooden and stoic, but this actually seems to work within the context of this film.

The plot revolves around a young girl who through some freak of nature has managed to become pregnant. Our hero then has to spirit her through the bizarre wasteland that is future England to an offshore rendezvous with an outlawed scientific organization that may represent mankind's last hope for survival. The pair are hotly pursued by the authorities - looking to score a propaganda coup with the pregnant girl - and all manner of feral (think Mad Max-ish) characters along the way.

The never explicitly stated motives of the authorities and the somewhat obviously "engineered" nature of the pursuit don't really stand up to scrutiny, but as a plot device it works fine, only really coming unstuck at the end, but even then a little suspension of disbelief will carry you through. This is really the only quibble I have with the film.

The best performance in the film is from Michael Caine, who turns in a blinder as the elderly, pot smoking (could this be a new elderly character stereotype, started by Alan Arkin's heroin-snorting grandad in Little Miss Sunshine?) father of our hero. Caine lives in a secret forest hideout with his mentally ill wife, spending his days toying with the chillingly named "Quietus" euthanasia kit.

Action fans will enjoy the stunningly staged urban street-fighting, with plenty of automatic weapons and a smattering of tanks. But the real star of this move is the production design.

The director (Alfonso Cuaron) has created a future urban tableau that is utterly believable and horrifying. Homeland security is everywhere, "illegal immigrants" (read Muslims and other minorities) are routinely shipped off to "camps", beaten and shot. Travel papers are de rigueur. Cardboard cities are ubiquitous as are the flat screen advertising billboards. Society is breaking down, people realizing that without children, there is no hope and without hope, why bother doing anything? Schools are overgrown, long deserted, ghost-buildings ? a stark reminder that humanity's days have come to an end.

The attention to detail in the production design is incredible and like Blade Runner, the futuristic vision created in CoM will likely live on and influence other movies. The DVD release of CoM contains plenty of detail about the production design and is recommended!





Last edited by Kate; 03/30/07 02:20 AM.
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Good review. Loved the film. When they walked from the building holding the baby amidst the fighting and everything stopped for a moment while people stared in wonder, was an exceptionally powerful moment. It captured the sometimes fickle nature of people - the future of humanity was right in front of them, but after two minutes they returned to killing each other.

********SPOILER*********

I thought a better ending would have been to end it before the science vessel turned up. I liked the idea of the fragility of a situation where the saviour of the human race was in a small boat, bobbing on the water, surrounded by fog, drifting out to sea, maybe never to be found.

Blacknad.

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Kate Offline OP
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Thanks B, I actually thought that bit were everyone stopped was perhaps the weakest in the movie, it all sort of didn't tally up in my mind. I agree with you about the end, they probably did that to satisfy the American distributor! Gotta have a (sort of) happy ending!

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I haven't seen the movie yet, but I did see an Outer Limits episode that seems to be exactly the same plot, and that was a few years ago. So I gotta ask: Has anybody here seen that Outer Limits and also seen the movie? If so, is it just a direct rip off, or do the commercials just make it look that way?

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OK, Kate, if you say so. I'm gonna run out and rent this right now. If it sucks, you owe me too-dallah.

I seem to remember an old "Outer Limits" episode called "The Inheritors" that sounds a lot like the premise for "Children of Men". I grew up in an area that was heavily Japanese. James Shigeta (from Honolulu) was in the episode, and he was big hero among the Nips. I never actually saw the show. A friend of mine, Arthur Konishi, had the Outer Limits Trading Cards back then. Robert Duval was also in that episode, if I recall. Is that what you are thinking of?

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I looked up The Inheritors, and it seems unrelated. But it did inspire me to start actually researching it. I found an Outer Limits episode guide and read through all the plot descriptions until I found Dark Rain:
Quote:
The value of the greatest of joys -- a healthy baby -- becomes evident after chemical warfare leaves humanity unable to produce normal offspring. Those rare couples like Sherry (RACHEL CRAWFORD) and Tim (DON FRANKLIN) who do conceive a normal child become the focus of intense government attention as desperate officials seek a cure. Held captive in a secret maternity hospital run by Dr. Royce (ALAN SCARFE), Tim and Sherry realize the panic-stricken government plans to make their beautiful new-born daughter a permanent ward of the state.


A little more research turned up a Wikipedia Article on it which revealed that the Outer Limits episode was based on the novel "The Children of Men". So it's not that the movie copied the Outer Limits, but rather that both used the same source material.

So, has anybody out there seen the Dark Rain episode of Outer Limits and this movie? If you've seen one is there any point in paying to see the other?

w

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well i saw children of men a while ago (i actually snuck in w/ some friends cuz im not eighteen yet, but thats besides the point) and it was amazing. one of my favorite all-time films. i agree w/ Blacknad about the best part of the movie. most people i know said it was depressing, but i thought it was possibly the most hopeful movie ever. it was amazing, and i liked the ending; unprecedented and anti-climactic from a traditional hollywood standpoint. but it was a very good movie. and i heard that children of men is adapted from a book of the same name written a while ago. so yeah.

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The movie was good, and though it differs from the novel it is fairly close to it, apart from the ending which is contrived in the movie,and much more fluid in the book. I read the novel in 1992 (the year of publication) after being given it for a present at Christmas! It's by P.D.James, she usually writes amazingly well plotted detective stories that have an ethical edge. I really like her work, and also read SF, so it was a perfect gift! I have to say that the book for me is far better than the admittedly very good film.


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