Ask anyone on the street about children and odds are they will respond that children are our hope and are the obvious future of the world. We strive to improve our lives and fight for every available right so our children can live the best possible life. Imagine a world where children have become such an absent feature of daily life that everyone gathers around the TV when one dies. Visionary master Alfonso Cuaron invites us to sit back and imagine a future that is drab, dull and lacking the brightness of a world we expect for our children.
The year is 2027 and the surrounding world seems to be down for the count with no real sign of getting up. Cities and countries around the world burn from fires and explosions. Infertility has resulted in no child being born in nearly 18 years, and Britain is controlled by such a repressive police force that it seems like an Orwellian world has resurfaced. Police forces round up illegal immigrants called Fugees throwing them inside cages for immediate deportation (some later sequences seem like concentration camps). We soon meet Theo Faron (Clive Owen), a man who isnï¿½t really the ideal type of hero that we would think of. He tends to drink, smoke and curse quite a lot almost feeling as if life doesnï¿½t have a point. His old girlfriend Julian (Julianne Moore) approaches him, causing Theo to be immediately thrown into a world he never thought possible for himself. What we, and Theo quickly learn, is that Theo must protect the first pregnant woman in over 18 years. In the blink of an eye Theo, the seemingly disillusioned character, has now become Theo, the last hope of the human race.
After viewing this film, it has become clearly evident that Alfonso Cuaron has the mind of a visionary. Children of Men, in the simplest definition, is an incredibly powerful film, sometimes so powerful that I had begun to wonder if Cuaron had wanted to create this decadeï¿½s Schindlerï¿½s List (think about it). The film contains so many important themes that one canï¿½t help but become immersed in the material. Think of the idea that a world similar to the Holocaust could occur again in a mere 20 years. Frightening no?
On the visual side of the film, the cinematography, particular the filmï¿½s closing 12 minute sequence, is breathtaking. Shot in one sequence, as we learned in one of the accompanying features, this was a battle that felt like it was out of horrifying novel about the end of the world. The camera work is stunning here as each visual feeling is captured almost like a painting being painted in front of us. Even though I havenï¿½t seen Panï¿½s Labyrinth yet, I canï¿½t help but feel that the Academy robbed Children of Men out of the Best Cinematography award. The fluid style used by Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki captured each background perfectly.
Children of Men is one of those films that you see once and really never have to see again. Similar to Schindlerï¿½s List in this aspect, the film presents many important themes that make us look into our lives and wonder what the future may hold for us. Constantly we hear the statement that we need to improve our lives for our children will live out our mistakes if we donï¿½t. I canï¿½t think of a truer statement. Children of Men easily ranks up there as one of the yearï¿½s finest efforts.
Presented in a 1080p, VC-1 Encoded, 1:85:1 widescreen aspect ratio, Universalï¿½s Children of Men has the type of transfer that one might not necessarily rank as Tier 0 (read demo worthy), but has more of a transfer that captures all of the important themes in a rich, stylistic manner.
Color usage was just fine with many sequences boasting fine, rich colors. A lot of the filmï¿½s thematic issues resulted in the colors feeling kind of drab and dull (mostly dark blacks, blues and greens). Grain was virtually non-existent never really becoming noticeable to a point where it annoyed. Sharpness was kept in check with no evidence of the filmï¿½s print becoming jagged. All in all this was a solid presentation.
Arriving with the standard Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 available in either English or French, Children of Men has a few noteworthy sequences that put this one higher than it normally would rank.
It should be no real surprise to anyone who has seen this film that Children of Men has a type of front heavy mix. Dialogue was crystal clear throughout the filmï¿½s presentation. Surround usage was surprisingly impressive considering this is a dialogue heavy film. I found how, despite all the dialogue in the film, surround effects were still present (check out the filmï¿½s initial explosion sequence, the sequence with Julian in the car or the closing sequence for evidence of the quality of this mix). Dynamic Range was effective to a point of becoming immersive with deep, clean bass. Universal rounds up the A/V aspects of this disc with a truly effective audio presentation.
- The Possibility of Hope: Running about twenty-seven minutes, director Alfonso Cuaron put together this documentary on the varying themes discussed. While completely eerie as to what the future may hold, this one was excellent throughout.
- Under Attack: Running about 12 minutes, this feature covers the behind-the-scenes effort that went into creating one of the filmï¿½s key sequences.
- Deleted Scenes: This is one of the only real lackluster features present on this disc. Weï¿½re given only three different scenes that donï¿½t really add much to the entire film as they only run about four minutes in length.
- Children of Men Comments by Slavoj Zizek: Mr. Zizek (a philosopher) speaks briefly on the filmï¿½s themes and how they connect to our modern world.
- Theo & Julian: Actors Clive Owen and Julianne Moore sit down and speak to us about their characters and what both actors did to prepare for their respective roles.
- Futuristic Design: Alfonso Cuaronï¿½s ideas and thoughts are discussed here. We get to hear how exactly his themes went from paper to the big screen.
- Visual Effects: Creating the Baby: Here we get to find out exactly how the filmï¿½s subject was created.
HD DVD Exclusives
- Picture In Picture: Director Alfonso Cuaron sits down and speaks to us throughout the course of the film on topics like story production, locales, themes, and cast and crew. Speaking of the cast and crew, a few of the cast members, most notably Clive Owen and Julianne Moore spoke on their desires to be a part of the film. Universal continues providing us with HD DVD Exclusives and they donï¿½t disappoint here.
- Information & Commercials: Now this one was just plain cool. Obviously anyone who has seen the film knows that there are numerous ads that fill the screen. What this feature does is allow us to actually watch the commercials in their entirety.
Alfonso Cauron has created a true gem in Children of Men. The film has such a rich stylistic visual appeal that as audience members we canï¿½t help but be absorbed by the events enfolding before our eyes. Universal continues their winning ways by giving us a disc with fine video, impressive audio and a solid set of features that any fan will be pleased with. Recommended on all front, solely for the film.
Special Features List
- The Possibility of Hope
- Under Attack
- Deleted Scenes
- Children of Men Comments by Slavoj Zizek
- Theo & Julian
- Futuristic Design
- Visual Effects: Creating the Baby
- Picture In Picture
- Information & Commercials