I saw Children of Men last night…

…and the best way to sum up my reaction is, it’s given me a new appreciation of Æon Flux.

The characters are uniformly flat. Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey), the woman on whose miraculous pregnancy the story supposedly turns, is little more than a big-bellied MacGuffin. Julianne Moore is around just long enough to make you wonder why she bothered to do this movie. Chiwetel Ejiofor shows us what a charmless, underwritten version of Firefly‘s Operative might be like. Michael Caine, phoning in his role as an aging British hippie, repeats the phrase “Pull my finger!” until a merciful gunman puts him out of our misery. As for Clive Owen, about the best I can say is that he broods real pretty.

And then there’s the plot. Instead of exploring the potentially interesting implications of its premise—a world with near-zero human fertility rates—C.o.M. expends most of its creative energy on yet another cautionary tale about declining civil liberties in the West. Look, I’m as concerned about freedom in the post-9/11 world as anyone, but this is getting really tedious—not the theme itself, but the utterly safe and predictable way in which films like this deal with it. Couldn’t we please have a fresh angle? How about an SF movie set in Saudi Arabia, with a pregnant Shi’a human rights advocate on the run from the religious police?