Monday, May 14, 2007

Review: Children of Men

I wanted to like this movie. It has all the hallmarks of a good science fiction film. A dystopic future. Mankind on the brink of destruction. Roving bands of bad guys. Gestapo police AND crazed, do anything, terrorists/freedom fighters. I wanted to like it. I really did.

Unfortunately, it left too many thing unanswered for me to do so. Which I'm hesitant to say is a bad thing as now I feel the need to go get the book and read it to see if it answers any of my questions.

Regardless the plot is basically that mankind is sterile (though whether that's because of nature or man's own stupidity is not clear) and suddenly a girl shows up pregnant. It's a great plot, a great story, unfortunately, the execution of it here is seriously lacking. Frankly though, I'm not 100% certain how this concept COULD be made into a good movie and still get all the questions that it needs to answer answered. Maybe changing the protagonist from an office worker to a doctor or a biologist would help, but there's still serious issues about the whole concept that I want answered.

There are two primary characters. The pregnant girl and then the protagonist office worker who gets dragged into the storyline to watch out for her. Both of these characters are likable and in general are fun characters. Well at least as likable and fun as any character can be when they're from adystopic future.

As for villains. Well we have the faceless government threat! Yeah. That's it. Whee.

Special effects are nearly non-existent. At least special effects for a science-fiction movie. The things we get here are not that much different than the effects featured in Saving Private Ryan. Of course this is not a bad thing - the strength of this movie is on its story rather than the pretty effects, and again, that's good for science fiction.

The actors, directors and other "real" folks associated with this movie, I have no complaints against. I like the actors they chose for the lead roles, and have no complaints about the cinematography.

I guess that the only thing I can really complain about is the fact that we're not provided any answers, or even the direction of the answers, from the questions raised by the plot. Things such as "why are humans sterile?" and "how did the girl get knocked up?" Enquiring minds want to know after all. Frankly, I don't even know if there is a scientific or mystic rational for it. Was it Global Warming (our current scapegoat for any of the world's ails) or was it caused by a meteor? As far as the story tells us, it could be an Old Testament-style plague. In my Æon Flux review I stated this:

A good science/speculative fiction story is supposed to make you think. That's its entire purpose.
And that still holds true. I'm not contradicting that earlier statement. But making us think, and then just making us ask questions about your plot are two entirely different things and making us ask questions without providing us at least the clues to answer those questions for ourselves is just as bad as a story that doesn't make us think.

Ultimately, I'm not going to be adding this DVD to my movie collection, though I do hope to find the book at a used book store (or better yet the library) so that I can read it.

And it gets a 2 out of 4 because I still don't know the answers to my questions.

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