“Children of Men” is a movie that I had heard a lot about, but just sort of ignored. I have Ryan Connolly from Film Riot to thank for convincing me to finally watch this film.
I didn’t know what to expect going into the film. All I really knew about the film going into it was that it starred Clive Owen, who is a pretty good actor, had some explosions which I saw in a trailer, and that it was a sci-fi film, which I only found out right before watching. I watched “Children of Men” on a four DVD pack from Walmart that came also came with 12 Monkeys which is a really great movie that I might review sometime.
I’m not going to say anything at all about the plot, because I knew nothing about it and I wish the same luxury upon you as I feel it might have heightened the experience.
“Children of Men” is a true masterpiece of film. I was completely blown away, even more so because I didn’t expect much. The performances are great all around, but they are not incredibly demanding. The impact of the film comes from the the atmosphere, the production value, the story, and how it’s told. Clive Owen does a good job starring in the role. He seems very real which is hugely pertinent to the movie. I’ll explain why a little later on. Michael Cain has a supporting role which is a little smaller than I had thought, but he’s a really great actor, and adds to the film in a nice way. Also in a co-starring role is Julianne Moore, or as I like to call her “Back up Jodie Foster.”
Alfonso Cuarón does a magnificent job directing the film. He wanted to the film to have a documentary feel. These events are happening and someone just happens to be filming it. The camera work is very shaky which is often over done in movies, but this is an example of how to utilize it correctly. The camera works really adds to the movie and makes the action scenes more intense. The movie is full of incredible long shots. I am huge fan of long shots in film and it made me love the movie so much more to see so many long shots. There are single shots that last over 12 minutes. That’s insane. To someone
who doesn’t know much about the production of film, that might not seem like such a big deal, but long shots are incredibly difficult to do from a technical production aspect. I sat back and marveled at some of these shots. I sat there and verbally exclaimed “Holy crap, I can’t believe they haven’t broken the shot yet.”
These long shots are not just static boring shots, but they are completely dynamic and just ridiculously impressive. There is a single shot where the camera follows Clive Owen through a complete war zone of a city. He’s panicking and trying not to die while running through the streets and buildings. The camera covers full blocks and goes in, up, down, and out of buildings. It’s astounding, I’m amazed by these shots. The took such magnificent orchestration to pull off, and it’s really a marvel of modern film making.
There is a shot in a car that lasts 12 minutes. It begins as a conversation among the people in the car and turns into an action sequence by the end. To make this shot work they had to invent a camera rig that went on top of the car and allowed the camera to move in 360 degrees through the entire car. The car seats were specially made, and the actors had to recline and move their chairs when they were off screen to allow for certain camera angles. There are actors inside the car, and actors outside the car, all working at the same time, also alongside some incredible special effects that most movies would cut away from to provide fake realism.
These very long shots are incredibly hard to organize and are an increased challenge to the actors. Entire scenes in the film consist of a single shot, similar to a play.
The production value is through the roof. The sets are huge and amazingly detailed. The setting is a post apocalyptic England, and it looks fantastic. You can see famous monuments throughout the film amid the destruction that’s happening. The setting is the future, but things in the future are old, if that makes sense. Most of everything is destroyed and in ruin, and the set designers did a truly great job. I hardly ever feel the need to address the sets of a film when I’m reviewing it, but it is necessary here.
“Children of Men” is a true masterpiece of modern cinema and will surely go down in history as an all time classic.