This does contain spoilers!
I had some free time today, so I sat down to watch the movie Children of Men, starring Clive Owen. I was really excited to finally find the time to watch it, as I remembered being entranced by the trailer when I first saw it. I am sorry to say that I turned off the DVD player thoroughly disappointed.
While the cinematography was brilliant, I was not thrilled with the storytelling. I hadn’t read the book on which the movie is based, but as an inexperienced viewer, I really had no idea why things had happened the way they did.
“That thing in New York” was mentioned a few times. Okay? What thing in New York? Why all of a sudden were completely fertile men and women suddenly unable to have babies and all at the same time?Two main characters in the movie, had a child once before, so what had happened that was a fertility killer? Michael Kane’s character suggests it could be a multitude of possibilities; pollution, genetic experiments and the like and I think you had some belief that it was the wrath of an angry God.
I don’t know if the book is different and doesn’t keep the reader in the dark, but I think you owe it to the viewer to give them some insight into what really happened to make Earth such a crappy place to live. For instance, why are there dead and burning livestock in the fields of England and yet there are live ones in the city of London and in the refugee camps? It also stuck me as odd that humans can’t have babies, but apparently cats and dogs can, as you see a multitude throughout the film, which would lead me to believe that the cause was not necessarily a pollutant or a genetic de-evolution. What happens to Michael Kane’s wife in the film? The only clue we get is that she is catatonic and overwrought over something? The death of Theo and Julian’s child perhaps? Who knows!
You do learn that England was one of the only semi-decent places to live since the world went to hell, so everyone flees their homelands to enter the country which then closes its borders and throws illegals into Hitler-esque death camps. The government also advocates the use of suicide kits to quell its depressed population that just can’t seem to go on without a miracle. I guess we are allowed to treat fellow humans as trash when we’re not going to be around in a 100 years.
There were also subtle hints throughout the movie that were groan inducing as well; A ‘don’t invade Iraq’ sticker in quickly flashed against the screen in a photographic montage. Later in the end of the movie, we see tortured people strung up in camps invoking memories of the recent prison scandal in Iraq.
Hard and desperate shots of death and destruction in this near future are everywhere, from random government blamed cafe bombings, to squashing an uprising of illegal immigrants in their own death camps. I couldn’t even take solace that someone was finally going to have a baby and possibly give the world the miracle it was looking for, because the tone was so hell bent of destroying your sense of hope for a future, that you emulate the feelings of its main character, Theo. You want to give up, and you’re constantly asking yourself the question; why bother?
The ending was particularly disturbing in the fact that almost every single person in which you shared this horrible journey dies. Couple that with an ending that is largely left open, I sat there and asked myself why I wasted two hours on this flick.
I don’t know if it was trying to show the horrors of war when waged against any people, or it was a sad attempt to politicize and bring our current conflicts to a closer and more identifiable setting, but this movie had more holes than the Titanic and we all saw what happened to that unfortunate ship. This movie did get decent reviews when it was originally released, and for the life of me, I’m trying to figure out why.Any movie that makes its audience try to deduce or make up the clues that hold the story together, needs a little less art direction and more substance and explanation.