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Children of Men (2006)

Children of Men
"Y'know, you almost had me talked in to having sex with you until you mentioned we don't need a rubber. I'm sorry but gallows humor does not do it for me. Then again we do have the bus all to ourselves and the world 'is' ending and everything -"

Directed By:

Alfonso Cuaron

Starring:

Clive Owen
Julianne Moore
Michael Caine
Chiwetel Ejiofor

Released By:

Universal Pictures

Released In:

2006

Rated:

R

Reviewed By:

Victoria Alexander

Reviewed On:

Sat Jan 13th, 2007

Grade:

B+

zBoneman on Rotten Tomatoes

The Black Death, or Black Plague, was a devastating pandemic that began in south-western Asia and spread to Europe by the late 1340s. It killed between a third and two-thirds of Europe's population and, including Middle Eastern lands, India and China, killed at least 75 million people. The Black Death had a drastic effect on Europe's population, irrevocably changing Europe's social structure. If you are alive today, your European ancestors managed to beat it! We're the survivors!

Nowadays, we have much more efficinet means to easily carry a virus quickly all around the world.

In 1992, researchers at colleagues at Copenhagen University reported sperm counts were falling around the world. British research found that men born in the 1970s had 25 percent fewer sperm than those born in the 1950s. The National Institutes of Health reported that data collected from 1938 to 1990 indicates that sperm densities in the United States have exhibited an average annual decrease of 1.5 million sperm per milliliter, or about 1.5 percent per year and, in European countries, have declined at about twice that rate.

Why? No one knows for sure, but there are lots of "environmental" theories.

Director Alfonso Cuaron paints such a realistic bleak future that we do not need to know the social or political agendas behind the catastrophe. It does not matter since the film is a thrilling adventure with a tough, hard-nosed sensibility.

An American director could have never envisioned the future like this.

Set in the U.K. in 2027 and based on a novel by British writer P.D. James, the world is in the tight vice of an 18 year global human infertility crisis. Apparently, scientists have not been able to rectify the problem. See what happens when you spend decades screaming about over-population and implement draconian laws limiting births?

The women started to miscarry, then stopped getting pregnant altogether. Everywhere there is disease and people are left dead in the streets. Anarchy reins as governments have collapsed, and the U.K. is beset by throngs of refugees. Violence and hunger have stripped mankind of it's basic humanity as evidenced by the way the dead are immediately robbed of anything of value that they may have possessed.

A washed-up, un-washed civil servant, Theo (Clive Owen), is kidnapped and brought to a meeting with Julian (Julianne Moore) his former lover, mother of his dead son, and now a rebel leader from the U.S. They haven't seen each other in 20 years. They were activists back then.

Julian needs Theo to get "transit papers" for a young woman, Kee (Clare-Hope {how would you like to grow up with ashitey name like that} Ashitey), to get out of the country. There is a shadow group who will help Kee. London looks like Baghdad after years of constant "shock and awe." Julian offers Theo a lot of money and he does secure travel papers for him and the girl. Theo asks his well-connected cousin Nigel (Danny Huston) for the papers. In a wonderfully ironic touch, Nigel has Michelangelo's damaged "David" in his foyer and Picasso's "Guernica" in his dining room. With no future generations to live on to appreciate art, art and most material things have lost their value.

So now Theo is in the thick of this escape caper. But when their vehicle is attacked, Theo takes Kee and her aide to his friend Jasper (Michael Caine), a pot-smoking, former cartoonist. For some reason, Jasper has a comatose wife he cares for. Or is she just tired of his jokes and loud Beatles music?

What is going on and who are the rebels? Why is there a resistance? To what? How did Julian's crew find out about Kee? Was she also an activist or an innocent party girl thrust into this mayhem of being the first woman in 18 years to get pregnant?

Could you imagine the product endorsements Kee could get in the U.S.? She's carrying the world's savior – to boot!

Why doesn't anyone consider that Kee's pregnancy means the infertility crisis is over and everybody should start having sex again? Having sex was popular enough back in the day to catch on again.

The story of "Children of Men" suggest a run-down, two decades in the future, "Blade Runner" with Theo being a less-than-perfect hero. He doesn't kill, gets hurt a lot, and doesn't know what to do. It really looks as if Cuaron brought Owen to the set and said "Run," as gangs fired weapons and blew up buildings around him. I've never seen so much rubble in a movie.

It is the look of the future and Cuaron's tough approach to the material that is so surprising.

Five writers are credited with writing the script: Alfonso Cuaron & Timothy J. Sexton and David Arata and Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby. I was surprised not to see Barney Rubble listed with them.

(We at zboneman.com are excited to welcome the prolific and multi-talented writer Victoria Alexander to our staff. Critic for http://www.filmsinreview.com/ and pundit and humorist responsible for the candid and fearlessly funny "The Devil's Hammer," her column appears every Monday on http://fromthebalcony.com. Start off your week with a good hard laugh. It's a thrill to have her on board. Victoria Alexander answers every email and can be contacted directly at masauu@aol.com.)

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