Friday, January 12, 2007

Names as clever as Story...


There needs to be another saying because "On the Nose," just doesn't cut it for these type of names. It would be like a character literally telling you what is going to happen in the movie and calling it foreshadowing.

As some of you may have figured out, I am talking about the movie CHILDREN OF MEN.

Many will argue that I missed the whole point of this movie. No I get it. There will be claims that I want the movie "dumbed down." That I'm not sophisticated enough to get it. Maybe they're right. But with names like those mentioned above, I find those claims hold very little water.

I want the story to be sophisticated as possible, but still entertaining. In truth, CHILDREN OF MEN is neither.

I love the world that CHILDREN OF MEN creates. I am a big fan of futuristic films that are reminiscent of our own, but given certain liberties that let it tell a story you couldn't otherwise. Make a movie like this and I'll gladly hand you my 10 bucks. For that, CHILDREN OF MEN succeeded. My 10 bucks was worth it. Especially considering the alternative movies this year... BLECK!

But it is not a great movie. It is not really even all that entertaining.

I could go to great lengths to describe all the flaws with this movie, but I'd rather people see it for themselves, since it is actually one of the better movies of the year. I'll stick with two problems that really bother me.


1) Clive Owen's character.

SETUP THE CHARACTER!!! We need to know who this character is before he crosses into the second act.

His, is a story of redemption, but it is somewhat half-hearted. The main reason for this is that, from the audiences perspective, he is never really in need of redemption. He is a luke-warm character throughout the entirety of the film.

Here's a question that'll stump all the "you don't get it" people. What did Clive Owen's character do for a living?


We even see where he works, people in his office at work, and you have no idea what he does.

I bring this up because... the reason Julianne Moore gives for abducting Clive would actually play better if Clive had a different line of work. Perhaps one that actually had access to what she needed...?

My guess, is that the writer and director fell in love with the scene in which... well, the art scene. It really is a darling that should have been axed. (Or developed further, which would mean completely changing the story). And don't get me wrong. I like that scene too. I also like the dinner scene in THE BLACK DAHLIA, but that doesn't belong in that movie, either.

So #1 is Clive's character should have been developed better.

2) The stakes and jeopardy are rather amorphous.

In CHILDREN OF MEN, you do not know what is at stake, nor what the consequences are should they fail. I'm not dumb. I understand that the child being born in a world where children cannot be born has significance.

The problem lies in the fact that there are questions that are never answered that needed to be in order for the plot to work.

What happens if she gives birth?
What happens if she dies?

Let's take TERMINATOR as an example.

Sarah Connor will give birth to John Connor who will lead the war against the machines.
If she dies, John will never be born and the machines will exterminate mankind.

That's clear cut.

Key is a single woman able to have a baby in a world that cannot. How does that impact the world? We never find out. Furthermore, we are left to use our best judgement at what the death of her baby might mean. I can only guess that it means that man's existence is doomed, but for all I know it is doomed even with her baby in it.

If it doesn't have the potential to change things then why should anyone care?


Matt Langdon said...

I think basically the story is one of hope. That basic idea that people will do a lot for hope is all you need to justify the story. I agree that you don't know exactly what will happen, but everyone reacts pretty strongly when they're made aware of the pregnancy/baby.

I initially thought the ending could have come a little earlier, leaving the boat as something for the audience to figure out. Did it come, were they real? However, after a day, I thought that would have betrayed the feel of the movie. That is hope.

James said...

"but everyone reacts pretty strongly when they're made aware of the pregnancy/baby."

By everyone, I take it you mean... the characters in the movie. The audience knows about the pregnancy from the trailers.

Hope...? The prospect of a single woman being gangbanged to death in an effort to save humanity...?

Or her baby stripped away...?

Or tested on until her "secret" is cut out of her...?

I'm not sure why people assume this ending is a positive one. It is ambiguous. Which is perfectly fine, but nothing the movie sets up is resolved. That's the problem.

Matt said...

I truly understand your point. A lot of it depends on the person watching, I guess. It also depends on the mood of the person watching. I could have easily had your reaction if I was in a different mood while watching it.

And yes I meant the characters in the movie.