| The Red Right Hand
CHILDREN OF MEN
Based on PD James' novel of the same name, Children Of Men has taken a fairly different route to the storyline available to them. Rather than focusing on the nature of an infertile globe, director Alfonso Cuaron has centred on one nation [The World Has Collapsed! Only Britain Soldiers On] and the political side of the story. Set in an Orwellian future (2027AD), the world has been plunged into madness as an unknown (and seemingly incurable) epidemic of worldwide infertility has crippled our race for the last eighteen years. As cities fall to riots and bombings, fascist governments take control and refugee/concentration camps are erected. Former activist, Theo Faron [Owen], gets roped into transporting a young Fujian girl, Kee, [Claire-Hope Ashitey] to the border, in an attempt to get her to 'The Human Project' - an organisation that may or may not exist, flying no flags of allegiance, determined to find a cure. Theo becomes attached to the rebellious group when their leader is killed and it's only then that Kee's pregnancy is revealed to him. The plot is one of a fairly simple dystopian chase thriller and offers nothing that can't be found in the best of science fiction novels but it's the directing and visual styling that give this film its' impressive finish. For a film based in the future very little has changed, technology has improved a little and cars are slightly rounder but that's about it; adding a realistic (not-too-distant future) feeling to the whole story - more so than V For Vendetta.
Cuaron, fresh out of directing the $130,000,000 Harry Potter & The Prisoner Of Azkaban, has been awarded an extra $20,000,000. On first hearing that, I must say, I was a little shocked. Despite shooting on-location, surely tearing up well known British streets doesn't cost that much. Most of the budget has actually been spent on small CGI touch ups; bullets carving holes in walls, narrowly avoiding our leads, subtle technological advancements such as HUD's [Heads-Up Displays] projected on the inside of car windscreens, acting as a GPS map and sensing pending obstructions. The biggest CG effect that I noticed (even though most of the audience remained blissfully unaware) is a bit of a plot spoiler so if you must, skip ahead to the next paragraph. Kee's baby is born; a girl. From the moment she's born to the final scene, the tiny infant is pure, unadulterated computer graphics - sorry to spoil the magic kids. It's great to finally see a large sci-fi flick with a massive budget that only uses CGI in small, effective doses.
A large array of fine actors and actresses have been assembled but seemingly for the smallest of parts. Oddly enough, this adds an air of uncertainty as anyone can be 'taken care of' quickly and efficiently without tagging loyalty to the brand name - in other words, the big-sale is the plot and not the names. Having said that, Theo's best friend, Jasper [Caine], sitting in his hide-away cottage, growing marijuana and playing rave music was hilarious; offering a light contrast to the otherwise bitter proceedings. It would appear that the smallest elements prove to be the most effective. A lot of the back story is never brought to light (how the epidemic broke out, how/why cities fell and if it's as fascist as portrayed, why is the UK such a haven?) but you don't seem to mind much; a few explanatory news reports blame terrorism and extremists but, naturally, no one knows the real cause. The action is spectacular - not over the top Michael Bay nonsense - in a realistic manner, reminiscent of Black Hawk Down and Full Metal Jacket. The long, singular tracking shots are wondrous and add to the lived-in feel of a tense, front-line London - all shot with handhelds over 16 weeks. The problem with a flooding of mass realism is the streak of humour that will not only seem out of place to some, but downright offensive - especially considering the current state of affairs. It's almost odd to be questioning the nature of a police state, human tolerance and compassion then undercutting it as Michael Caine holds out his hand and says, "Pull my finger."
22nd September 2006
The Scene To Look Out For:
The resistance group (The Fishes) have infiltrated a refugee camp, the military have moved in with heavy armoured divisions and Theo & Kee are caught in the middle. Kee quietly steps out of the building, Theo's arm wrapped around her. As she passes through the crowd of combatants, everyone stops and stares; people crossing themselves. Once out of harm's way a rocket-propelled grenade hurtles toward the tank and the fighting resumes. Not only is it a beautifully designed scene but the fact that even in the midst of a miracle, man is willing to sacrifice everything out of stubbornness.
The annoying, dread-lock clad Charlie Hunnam is thankfully not present on my list as I have decided he's a no talent, loutish geordie who can't act to save his life; nor did I choose Julianne Moore, whose character is only a big name sell and doesn't hang around long enough for me to care. Instead I have opted for Peter Mullan's crazed, psychotic, pot smoking soldier, Syd. Adding an uncomfortable element of humour to the atrocities of the camps and a frightening slap of realism to the corruptibility of man.
"You know that ringing in your ears? That 'eeee' sound? That's your cells dying, you'll never hear that pitch again. Enjoy it while it lasts"
In A Few Words:
"Created with a relevant poignancy that raises the question, 'Considering what we are capable of, does our race deserve to survive?'"