Sunday, July 26, 2009

Children of Men

We’re still watching other movies besides those based on Tennessee Williams plays, of course. CHILDREN OF MEN, which came out a few years ago, is based on a P.D. James novel I haven’t read. (That would be true of any movie based on a P.D. James novel.) It’s a near-future science fiction thriller set in England, the only country left in the world that hasn’t descended into chaos after women everywhere became unable to have babies some eighteen years earlier. This sudden and unexplained catastrophe has evidently doomed the human race. It’s just a matter of waiting for everyone to die off.

But then somehow, a young woman in England gets pregnant, and a bureaucrat played by Clive Owen gets mixed up in the plot to smuggle her out of the country and get her into the hands of the mysterious Human Project, a group of scientists trying to figure out a cure for the sudden infertility that’s taken over the planet. Various feuding factions within England want control of the girl and her baby for themselves, which leads to double-crosses, shootouts, and running and chasing.

As an action movie, CHILDREN OF MEN is pretty good. Those scenes are plentiful, well-staged, and harrowing. As science fiction, it kind of falls flat because there’s no attempt to explain anything; the situation just is. On the other hand, the characters involved in this particular story probably wouldn’t be aware of any scientific explanations for what’s happened, so I’m willing to give it a pass on that. As entertainment, well, it’s awfully bleak and grim, but not totally without hope. I like Clive Owen (although after seeing the wonderfully goofy SHOOT ‘EM UP, I can’t watch him in anything without wondering where his carrot is), and Michael Caine is fine as usual in a strong supporting role. I don’t think CHILDREN OF MEN is a great film, but I enjoyed it and think it’s worth watching.


Bruce said...

Don't worry James if you did not read the book. So little of it made it to the screen

pattinase (abbott) said...

I enjoyed it too. Maybe due to Clive Owens.

Graham Powell said...

I thought the movie was very realistic, right down to some rather boring parts. But the long single take near the end was really brilliant, and some other parts were nearly as good.

But it still left me kind of cold.

Todd Mason said...

The film annoyed the hell out of me, inasmuch as it was one long latter-day hippie's paen to the hippies (down to Caine's character acting as if he was born when he was rather than his character being born about today, and use and reference to pop-prog-rock as King Crimson's early beautiful but lyrically inane "In the Court of the Crimson King" and Pink Floyd's ANIMALS balloons). However, it was watchable, which put it head and shoulders above James's novel, which is unreadable and homophobic...a real latter day Taylor Caldwell-style sf novel.

Jack said...

It is rather odd - but my copy of this DVD has been borrowed by every member of my family.
I don't know what it is maybe it is that bleakness with it's rays of hope. At the first watch I felt as though there was something symbolic going on that was just out of reach. Encampments and an ethnic type clensing that could be Bosnia, Africa, Iraq and Afghnistan. That out of the ashes could come a new life that everybody wanted a piece of.
OK - may be a bit deep that.