The Best Sci-Fi Movie Of The Past 20 Years Is Now Streaming On Amazon

By Sean Thiessen | Updated

clive owen
Clive Owen in Children of Men

The 21st century has yielded many great films. One of its very best science fiction films is Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men, and it is streaming now on Amazon Prime. Set in a dystopian near future, Children of Men imagines a world in which women can no longer bear children, leaving the last generation of a hopeless society to rot.

Children of Men, starring Clive Owen, was an instant classic when it was released, and it’s now on Amazon Prime.

It sounds dark – and it is – but Children of Men is ultimately a story of hope. Clive Owen stars as Theo, an apathetic British bureaucrat living in London, now a police state riddled with refugees seeking asylum in one of the world’s last standing governments. Theo is riding the nihilism train straight into the abyss when he is approached by his ex-wife to help a young woman out of the country.

Theo discovers that the woman is pregnant, throwing his worldview out the window. From there, Children of Men becomes an epic race against time and the encroaching dangers of a broken world. Filled with dazzling camerawork and enthralling philosophy, it is no wonder why so many film critics and fans regard Children of Men as one of the best science fiction films of the modern era.

The Children of Men is a novel written by P.D. James in 1992. The story was optioned in 1997, with several drafts of the screenplay being written leading up to 2001, when Alfonso Cuarón boarded the project. Fresh off his breakout success with the acclaimed Y tu mamá también, Cuarón went to work rewriting the screenplay with writer Timothy J. Sexton.

clive owen
Clive Owen and Julianne Moore in Children of Men

While Children of Men was still in development, Alfonso Cuarón took a hiatus from the project to direct Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Screenwriter David Arata used Cuarón’s time on Harry Potter to get the script for Children of Men over the finish line. His draft won Clive Owen over to star in the film.

Children of Men flopped at the box office, bringing in only $70 million, $5 million short of its production budget, but it has since become one of the greatest films of the 21st century.

Even though the story takes place in a futuristic setting, Cuarón did not want the world of Children of Men to be full of advanced technology. Instead, he opted for a grittier, grimier, and more grounded look for the film’s setting. Films like A Clockwork Orange, The Battle of Algiers, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, and Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000 were touchstones throughout the making of Children of Men.

One of the film’s most striking elements is its use of long, unbroken takes. Several scenes, including complex action sequences, go on for three to six minutes at a time without cutting – at least, that is how they appear.

These complex scenes were uncompromising in many ways, with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki dissuading Alfonso Cuarón from an over-reliance on digital effects. Painstaking rehearsal and custom gear were employed to pull off the film’s ambitious shots, much to the anxiety of the studio.

Children of Men

The complex single-take shots in Children of Men are actually filmed in chunks that are stitched together with seamless digital effects. The results are immersive, aiding Cuarón and Lubezki’s attempts at a newsreel, documentary feel for the film.

By September 2006, Children of Men was finally ready to see the light of the world. It premiered at the Venice International Film Festival, shortly followed by a release in the United Kingdom. The film was released in a few theaters in the United States on December 22, expanding to a wide release in January 2007.

Children of Men can be hard to watch, but the single-shot sequence in the third act is worth battling with the depressing first half.

Children of Men quickly earned a reputation as more than an action sci-fi flick. Critics and audiences both adored the film for its balance of gripping survivalism and existential philosophy. Armed with entertainment and profundity, the film earned over $69 million at the box office and was nominated for three Academy Awards.

Since then, blogs and news outlets across the globe have singled out Children of Men as one of the greatest science fiction films of the past two decades. For others, it is one of the greatest of all time.

Tackling themes of hope and apathy, destiny and destruction, Children of Men is a sci-fi hit that will put you on the edge of your seat and leave you with something to think about. Movies like this do not come along very often, and you can experience this modern classic now on Amazon Prime.