Open Wide

Open Wide

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

DVD Review: Children of Men

Children of Men is described by Netflix as a “futuristic drama” based on a “classic dystopian novel” by P.D. James. For that reason alone I made sure it was at the top of our queue a few days before it was released on DVD. Seeing the trailer a few weeks ago didn’t hurt either. I even remember hearing a lukewarm review of it on NPR when it was playing in theaters a few months ago [and I don’t think we can ever expect NPR to give anything from the sci-fi genre much more than that because they’re kind of stodgy despite being so well informed].

I confess to not having read the novel, which might be why I liked the movie so much. Maybe not. I’d put it in the same category with Blade Runner, A Handmaid’s Tale, A Clockwork Orange, Shaun of the Dead, and 28 Days Later. It is groundbreaking science fiction material as prescient as Blade Runner, and it further establishes Britain as the most likely setting of the filming of the end of the world as did Shaun and 28 Days. This movie could be considered both a cautionary tale and a likely prediction of our own future if current events continue in the same [looped] vein they have since 911.

Each frame of this movie is packed with pertinent textual and visual information. You might find yourself watching it twice and pausing so you can read all the graffiti, text, and motion graphics [video ads] that fill the background in many scenes. This text answers some questions [why did everybody stop having babies?] and raises others [not gunna be a spoiler] for a viewer whose curiosity is likely to be more than piqued. Although most of the scenes are dark and ominous, vibrant colors like safety yellow and blood red flash across the screen as brief visual punctuation marks that echo developments in the plot.

The plot and dialogue are well written, gripping, and easily believable in spite of how far fetched the premise might seem. The story begins with the murder of the youngest living human, Baby Diego. In the eighteen years since his birth, The West has descended into burning chaos with Islamists and nuclear terrorists slashing and burning every country except Britain, which is consequently overrun with refugees who are ruthlessly hunted down and eliminated or released into seething refugee camps.

One of these refugees has the first human pregnancy since the birth of Baby Diego, and she must be safely escorted out of fascist England so humanity can be saved. As a special treat along the way, we get to meet Michael Cain who plays a cannabis farmer.

I could keep typing, but I may have already given too much away. Go rent Children of Men.

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