RogerBW's Blog

Children of Men (2006) 09 October 2022

2006 SF action, dir. Alfonso Cuaròn, Clive Owen, Clare-Hope Ashitey: IMDb / allmovie. Twenty years after babies stopped being born, there may still be some hope.

In a fairly confused way. P. D. James is not the most straightforward of writers in the first place, and the adaptation went through four separate sets of scriptwriters before reaching the screen. In theory, it seems that if this one pregnant woman can get to the ship full of scientists, everything will somehow be all right… but as two of the characters point out, the world was going to pot before the infertility started, and it's gone more to pot now, and even if everyone somehow magically started having babies again that wouldn't actually make things better!

But there are some fine performances here, particularly from Julianne Moore (who yet again takes what might be a dull role and manages to do something interesting with it) and from Clive Owen, who rises slightly above sentimental thuggery; and visually it's lovely, with some well-faked single-shot sequences (particularly an attack on a car, with things happening both inside and out; technically there are hydraulic rams moving the seats around to allow the cameras in, and CGI to cover for shot changes).

The problem is that we keep getting back to the script. I was an interesting character, but I've delivered my lump of exposition, so I have to leave the story in order that Theo and Kee can be the only two left at the end. Why do we have to break into Not The Warsaw Ghetto Honest to get to a ship that's going to be in a particular place off the coast? Why can't we just go to a less heavily fortified bit of coastline and steal a boat there? And oh look it's the Miracle of the Squaddies (complete with heavenly choir) as both sides lay down their weapons at the miraculous sight of a Baybee (even though one side is attempting to capture that baby for its own propaganda purposes, and one assumes the other would too when they find out about it).

And because I'm not distracted I notice the heavy-handed colour grading: almost everything's blue-tinted apart from one or two friendly orange moments. I can admire a lot of what's done here, but I find it hard to enjoy the film as a whole.

If you want more of my witterings, you should listen to Ribbon of Memes.

  1. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 10:49am on 09 October 2022

    The story is what brings me joy. A story can be poorly told, have flaws etc, but if it hits the emotional spots I want, I will enjoy it. Enjoyment is clearly about taste, and everybodies taste is different.

    However, P D Jame's story is what I'd label as SF for those who don't like SF (a slot that Michael Crichton served in a slightly different manner). I enjoy some of Crichton's work, some strays too far over the line.

    Children of Men was lauded IIRC when it came to the scree, I saw it, and as a film buff I can appreciate the technical skill etc, but as a story it was IMNSHO a bit meh!

    The premise, or McGuffin is so low hanging that the item has rotted away, but for those watchers who are not SF fans, I can imagine watching this film felt revelatory.

    Colour me Peter Watts'ish at the plot. YMMV. Just here to shoot the breeze and talk shit.

  2. Posted by DrBob at 03:56pm on 09 October 2022

    I much preferred the film to the book. That latter smacked too much of nice middle class people who thought the whole frightful mess could be sorted out with a strongly worded letter to The Times.

  3. Posted by RogerBW at 09:02am on 11 October 2022

    DrBob: the overpowering impression I get from James's detective stories is that she thinks people should stay in their place and not try to be something they're not. And if they are poor or lower-class or ugly or suburban they should not offend real people by coming to their notice.

    Ashley: I am always edgy when a writer known for another field (particularly lit-fic) decides to do some SF or fantasy, and usually comes up with something very old and tired and tropey, because they're thinking of their childhood memories of SF which may not have been the good stuff even then and certainly aren't now.

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime crystal cthulhu eternal cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics en garde espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 essen 2023 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2021 hugo 2022 hugo 2023 hugo 2024 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust scala science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1