The early hype around this movie is pretty amazing, some calling it one of the best action films of the year, some saying it's a contender for best picture. Accoording to the footage we saw, those accusations might not be too far off.
The trailer shows us a realistic looking future. People still buy coffee, watch TV and walk their dogs in tune with the routine nature of a comfortable western society. Yet, there are obvious signs of a future world spiraling into something very bad. Under animated billboards and around slightly modernized automobiles are tanks, armed guards and people surviving in ghettos.
In 2009, procreation between humans ceased to work. Fast forward 18 years and the last kid ever to be born is murdered. Immigration is an extreme no-no. The world has a tone of deep depression knowing it will face human extinction within a few decades.
Our protagonist (Clive Owen) is thrown into the middle of all this when he's part of a group protecting a woman who has somehow become pregnant. People want to kill her in addition to what seems to be complex revolutions between immigrants, the government and unknown others causes that seem to be creating some major conflict. Michael Caine appears as a John Lennon hippy idealist sporting long hair and glasses. The shots are great, the plot is interesting and lots of details remain shrouded in mystery.
To talk about the film (and raise some new questions and anticipation) was special guest moderator Guillermo del Toro and director Alfonso Cuaron. He stated the trailer has more cuts than the movie itself. Instead of elaborating verbally, more clips rolled...
One of many really really really long shots. A cafe full of people are glued to a T.V. set where newscasters report on the murder of the world's youngest human. Clive Owen walks in to order coffee. He watches a little then is followed outside, where the audience meets the world of 2027. Grey, bleak and falling apart. The scale of this movie seems huge. TV's in the background continue explaining the breaking news as poverty striken peoploe amongst a big-brother presence quietly speak volumes about the state of the world. The location is epic. It's as if they actually went to the future to film this. I'd guess they used CG set extensions, but much of the place is interacted with. In any case, Clive Owen walks down the street, going on with his day when, BOOM! The cafe he was just in explodes.
A herd of burnt cows fill the foreground as a car passes by. Said car is driven by Michael Caine and Clive Owen. In an interesting choice of adding humanity to a bleak world, Caine tells Owen to pull his finger. He ends up pulling it himself causing much laughter both to Clive Owens character and to the audience. The happiness doesn't last long, however, as a giant cage bus (think a modern bus fitted to hold holocaust victims) passes by their car. Cain explains they are immigrants. Sad people look outside the bars towards the car.
Religious protestors kneel outside a city as their leader boasts that infertility is God's punishment and they all must repent. Clive Owen drives through the city going from the military/poverty zone to an area where people walk dogs, bands play and life doesn't feel as bleak as the other locations we've been exposed to. It continually gets nicer as he gets closer to his destination, a large, important looking artistically futuristic building with lots and lots of security. Clive walks thru a metal detector where he sets out his metal belongings...and a bottle of whisky. Having passed security, he enters a room with the Statue of David. A leg is missing. A man wearing a white T-shirt and jeans walks out, gives Clive a hug and explains how they saved the statue from vandalizers.
This one, as said by Alfanso, took 5 days to shoot. 4 days of prep and only 3 chances to get it right. On chance #3 they got it. Not only was it exciting but it should win some kind of "complicated long shot award." We're in a warzone following Clive, pregnant girl and friends as they get captured by some kind of rebel group. The rebel group kidnaps pregnant girl and casually kills one of Clive's compadres. Gunshots. Clive is in the crossfire of what appears to be rebels vs government complete with tanks shooting, lots of gunfire and a decent amount of people getting shot. The camera follows Clive as he constantly fails at finding a decent place to hide. People die, walls break and it goes on for an interesting 5 minutes. He takes refuge in a bus full of people. A passenger gets shot and blood spray remains on the camera lens for the remainder of what we see. Clive waits outside a building, ducking, as a group of people walk out holding white flags. They get shot. Clive goes inside said building where a group of immigrants (maybe?) seem to be hiding.
The clip turns off. Alfanso states he doesn't want to give away any plot points. Either way, the shot was solid and impressive at it's current length...but it goes on another 5+ minutes! Children of Men (especially the last clip) is much like Saving Private Ryan if it was about WWIII and had a solid sci-fi spine. But maybe "sci-fi" isn't entirely the right word. Perhaps the Walt Disney coined term "science faction" is more like it, as Alfanso states "this was suppose to be the anti-blade Runner." All ideas of the future were based on actual reference of what should be real technology by that point in time.
The film goes a little deeper, hitting on social commentary through it's portrayal of immigration. "One of the things that will mold the 21st century is immigration." Furthermore, belief systems, seemingly of every variety (political, religious, scientific, etc) are challenged on all sides, as the central theme, acoording to Cuaron, is "ideology getting in the way of communication."