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As a prolific reviewer, you tend to often discuss a film in terms of
traditional arcs, and riffs off those same arcs.
Which is why it is always a treat when a film comes along that throws the script template out the window and forges its own path.
This is such a film. It reminded me of THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN 1957, the first legitimate A-list sci-fi that, like this film, started off in what seemed a traditional manner -- and then went down a plot superhiway that no one had ever seen before.
It is not a perfect film. It has some flaws. For example, the first 30 minutes are better (more impact, more empathy, more entertaining) than the last 60 minutes. Which is not to suggest that the last hour is bad, merely that the first half-hour is drop-dead stunning and unforgettable.
And the director often seems confused about who the real star is? Ditto for the PR dept of the studio. If you check the IMDb reference, you will see that the young girl so brilliantly played by Sennia Nanua is given billing lower down on the cast list. That's an error. Sennia IS the film -- she practically picks it up and carries it to the finish line. The scenes without her are weak, the scenes with her are wonderful.
Nice iteration of a "really smart" zombie film. Recommended.
Excellent performances and interesting source material (MR Carey
adapting his own novel), plus imaginative direction (Scottish director
Colm McCarthy), create a chilling sci-fi tale of hungries (zombies)
The opening sequence sets the tone. Melanie, a young, polite, and courteous girl manacles herself into a wheel chair. She seems entirely innocent and harmless, yet her captors fear otherwise. She and other children, each similarly restrained, are given an armed escort to a classroom. It's an arresting start and it grabs our attention. Sennia Nanua plays Melanie and the story revolves around her. We watch society collapsing through her eyes, see her threatened by the human beings around her, and fear for her. We watch her do terrible things, and yet we root for her. Everything is uncertain. Nothing is as it seems. It's a brilliant performance from a new talent, and it serves the film perfectly.
Melanie is surrounded by contrasting emotions from those nearest to her. Gemma Arterton is excellent as protective and caring psychologist/teacher Helen Justineau, fiercely defending Melanie against the machinations of Dr Caroline Caldwell (Glenn Close) who sees Melanie as a specimen to be dissected. Paddy Considine convinces as Sergeant Eddie Parks, a tough, no- nonsense soldier fighting a losing battle.
Colm McCarthy brings this all together superbly, belying the film's modest budget. Striking visuals and frenetic action are never allowed to overwhelm the characters, who take centre stage. And at it's heart is Melanie. Confusing, ambivalent, terrifying, lovable Melanie. It's a wonderful turn from Sennia Nanua.
Highly recommended, and vastly superior to most of the genre.
The film opens with Melanie, a very polite young girl, strapping
herself into a wheelchair at gunpoint. She and many other children are
wheeled off to a makeshift classroom where they're taught the periodic
table and Greek mythology, before they're each returned to their
individual cells. Melanie also gets little logic problems from one of
the doctors. She's treated with fear, curiosity, and love from various
different military personel. It's not long before her curiosity gets
the better of her and she finds herself topside in a military base
surrounded by hungry hordes, strapped to an examination table. Who she
is, why she's important, and why she's treated the way she is is left
mysterious for quite some time.
The zombies themselves take a leaf out of The Last of Us. They're caused by a fungal infection that completely takes over the brain and replaces it with the insatiable need to eat. Their primary sense is smell, allowing the soldiers to mask themselves with a blocking gel and enabling them to carefully navigate through the hordes without being detected. Being a fungal infection though, there's more than just one stage, and the next stage holds the potential for the end of humanity. As zombie concepts go, this one is certainly one of the creepiest, and actually has a precedent in nature as well.
I was hugely surprised by the visual sufficiency of The Girl with All the Gifts. I figured it would just be another low-budget English production. Okay, that's exactly what it is, but it doesn't mean they scrimped out on the film's visual quality. The CGI present is subtle and sparingly used, preferring to use and merge in-camera footage instead. The apocalyptic landscape on display is one of the most convincing apocalyptic landscapes I've seen, created by putting the overgrown scenery of Chernobyl across London's skyline. It's obviously been a number of years since the initial outbreak, so the city is overrun with trees and shrubbery. The cinematography is great as well though, with some inspiring imagery created with interesting uses of composition and lighting. I wouldn't go so far as to say it looks particularly artistic, but it certainly has a good go at it. For such a bleak story in such a bleak setting, the movie looks really good (in such a bleak kind of way).
The music as well goes a long way to setting the scene, driven by haunting theremins as they swell and slide, backed by a simplistic orchestral arrangement. It's unlike any soundtrack I've heard before, but fits the movie so well. I was actually disappointed that I couldn't find it to listen to while I wrote this review. It knows when it be unsettling and when to be emotional, and at times even uses what you wouldn't expect to give a different angle to the scene in question.
The Girl with All the Gifts is a solid movie in it's own right, but it stands amongst the very best zombie movies. It certainly gives 28 Days Later... a run for its money, both in it's use of it's low- budget and it's re-invention of the zombie trope. It's another fresh new take on a genre perpetually at risk of going stale, but finding itself constantly injected with more creativity and imagination. I give The Girl with All the Gifts a solid 8/10, and would absolutely recommend it.
I remember once having a ridiculous drunken dispute at a works
Christmas party many year's ago that went along the lines of "if you
had the chance to save the world, but had to kill your child to do it,
what would you do". There's a variant of this conundrum at the heart of
this brilliant new film from Colm McCarthy, best know for his TV work
on shows like "Peaky Blinders", "Sherlock" and "Dr Who".
As most people already realize, this is a 'Zombie film' (cue, a number of other single blokes in the cinema) and illustrates the dangers of not treating that Athlete's Foot as soon as it appears! I would normally provide a quick synopsis here, but I really think this is a case in point where it is best to go into the film as blind as possible to the story and let it envelop you. (This includes not watching the whole trailer if possible.) To merely set the scene, we open with a morning school ritual like none you've seen before: children strapped to wheelchairs by heavily armed military in their cells; wheeled to an underground classroom; then made to sit in serried rows being taught by their teacher Helen Justineau (a deliciously un-made-up and natural Gemma Arterton). What IS going on? Who ARE these children? WHY are the soldiers so scared and dismissive of them? The ever-great Paddy Considine ("Pride") plays army Sergeant Parks (who also has a bit of a crush on Helen) and Glenn Close plays Dr Caroline Caldwell, who is studying the children in more ways than one.
This trio of stars, supported notably later in the film by Fisayo Akinade as the trooper Kieran, turn in what is a superb ensemble performance. As for Glenn Close, I have never quite been able to shake her awful "silk blouse" performance in "Air Force One" from my mind, but here she is quite mesmerizing in the role of the Doctor on a mission: I would suggest a career best. Her final scene reflects such a complex range of emotions, and is brilliantly executed. And Gemma Arterton pulls out all the emotional stops in what is also one of the performances of the year.
But good as these performances are, they would be nothing without the central performance of young Sennia Nanua as the titular "Girl". I have made the point before that there should be an Oscar category for "Young Actors" rather than pitch them into the adult categories like Quvenzhane Wallis and Anna Paquin were (successfully). Here in her debut feature performance Sennia is just mesmerising and (provided this film gets the recognition it justly deserves) she should be a shoe-in for the BAFTA Rising Star award next year, if not an Actress nomination. A young lady most definitely to watch.
Also assuming a starring role is Chilean-born composer Cristobal Tapia de Veer's astonishingly effective music which drives up the tension superbly. This is his feature film debut and another name to watch.
The screenplay by Mike Carey from his original novel is beautifully crafted, with some great one liners dropped in to ease the tension a notch. And the story adds a level of emotional depth and angst that surpasses other films of this genre, at least as far back as the "28 Days" films.
Astonishingly, the film was made on a budget of 4 (FOUR!) Million Pounds, giving it a 'BvS quotient' (see bob-the-movie-man.com!) of 2.1%!! Every penny of that budget is up on the screen, and whilst you might like to pick at a few of the matte paintings and effects, it is a remarkably achievement in special effects (Nick Rideout is the SF supervisor) and production value.
So, its great! Go see it... but with a few caveats: it is a zombie film, and it ranks about an 8.9 on the splattometer scale, which might not be to some tastes; definitely don't go to see it if you are pregnant (though I am constantly reminded how I took my heavily pregnant wife in 1989 to see "A really great film called 'Alien'"); and you might want to avoid it if you are a great cat or dog lover, or indeed a pigeon-fancier. Other than that, get yourself down to a multiplex and see this great British film: surely a classic to be recognized for years to come.
(You can read the full graphical version of this review on bob-the-movie-man.com. Agree? Then please visit and leave a comment. Thanks.)
The Girl With All The Gifts is yet another entry in the ever popular
yet often uninspired infected/zombie genre, but it's one that actually
manages to be refreshingly original, refusing to follow many of the
rules established since Romero brought us Night of the Living Dead.
The film opens in an underground military facility where a group of children are being detained, locked in cells during the night, and strapped into wheelchairs to be educated during the day by teacher Helen Justineau (Gemma Arterton). But these are no ordinary kids: they are infected with a pathogen that causes them to crave human flesh; despite this fact, however, they are still capable of rational thought, with Melanie (Sennia Nanua) being a particularly bright student.
Dr. Caroline Caldwell (Glenn Close) believes that the children can be used to create an anti-virus for the disease that has ravaged mankind, but before she gets a chance to prove her theories, the base is over-run by 'hungries' (as the infected are known). Justineau, Caldwell, and Melanie narrowly escape the ravenous hordes, joining forces with Sgt. Eddie Parks (Paddy Considine) and his men on a hazardous journey to safety.
With its cognisant second-generation zombie kids, born of infected mothers, this film quickly distances itself from the countless zombie films out there, but the film also has several other cool ideas that mark it as different: the humans can make themselves invisible to the hungries through the use of a special gel that disguises their scent; the pathogen mutates, turning the zombies into huge plant-like structures bearing seed pods that, if opened, will make the virus airborne; the humans are attacked by feral second-generation children who can use weapons and lay traps.
Best of all, the ending of the film questions humanity's right to survival, and whether, when the time comes, we should accept our fate and allow a new race to take our place. It's a thought provoking way to wrap up a neat little film.
One film I was looking forward to in 2016 was THE PURGE ELECTION NIGHT
but that ended up as a predictable disappointment . There was nothing
else cinema wise that was on the horizon until I caught Mark Kermode's
movie review on the BBC where he raved about a low budget British
horror movie THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS . Catching a couple of short
clips I was instantly intrigued and thought to myself how similar it
was to Danny Boyle's 28 DAYS LATER . Despite Kermode's praise it's a
film that seemed to disappear very quickly with little acclaim .
Despite this I made a point of catching it first opportunity I got so
what better way to celebrate the start of 2017 by watching the film
that wins my award of the best film of 2016
Yes you read that right a low budget British zombie apocalypse movie is my favourite movie of 2016 . I know I didn't see too many films last year but even so this doesn't negate TGWATG in any way shape or form . It's only a zombie film on the surface and scratch away the wafer thin surface and you've something totally compelling and multi-layered
Okay let's get the very few negatives out of the way first . First thing is the central character Melanie is just far too knowing to be entirely convincing as a child , but I guess that's narrative convention . Secondly the first 15 minutes of the film builds up a lot of mystery as to who Melanie and the other children might be , but this mystery becomes totally redundant if you know what type of sub-genre you're watching . Thirdly the army unit is more cosmopolitan than the united colours of Benneton . For some reason every TV show and film has the British army being more racially diverse than Daesh/ISIS
Positives ? I'd just tell you watch the movie but that'd be too easy . If you're expecting a relatively straight forward take on 28 DAYS LATER you'll be very surprised because nearly everything here surpasses Boyle's film especially the story details . The quasi zombies nicknamed "Hungries" have suffered their condition due to a fungal infection and the fungus adds another obstacle for the human survivors to worry about. Some scenes are genuinely disturbing but the most chilling scene involves Dr Caroline Caldwell describe an incident in a maternity ward . Let's just say if you know anyone who is pregnant don't let them see this movie . Yeah it's only a movie but it's so intense and convincing that I'm glad I'll never get pregnant . In fact I'm glad of there being little chance of me getting anyone pregnant
With a budget of £4.000.000 director Colm McCarthy works miracles and the two best aspects are using an amorphous soundtrack by Cristobal Tapia de Veer which is oppressive and atmospheric in equal measure and McCarthy - "British foreign legion" aside - casts well . Gemma Arterton proves she's more than a pretty face , Close and Considene are better than usual and the real revelation is Sennia Nanua as Melanie who makes her feature film debut and this will certainly not be the last we'll be hearing from her
I don't want to over hype TGWATG but I was looking forward to seeing it and all expectations were surpassed by a very long margin . I should guard my back somewhat by stating once again by stating this is a grim . gritty but great apocalyptic thriller . I like these type of stories but even so I'm going to have trouble sleeping for a long time . It's undoubtedly the best horror film I've seen since THE MIST from ten years ago and just simply the best and most powerful movie I've seen in a long time
The atmosphere it builds, the eeriness of the children humming from the
music score, how brilliantly orchestrated that opening scene or the
entire first act was, are just everything you need to get excited on
how things will unfold.
When the actual plot kicks in, it somewhat follows the familiar zombie/outbreak movie tropes, with them wandering around this rubble. The second act does slow things down, since the zombie's dynamics here are pretty standard. But the subtext is what keeps it more interesting. The whole setup is basically a metaphor on how we treat the next generation: we get Gemma Arterton's character who finds hope on the young infected girl, Melanie, while everyone else fears on how she and her kind could threaten their existence. It's a complex dilemma that makes it tough to predict how everything would turn out. The greatest feat of the directions is how it keeps its scenarios quite disorienting, especially with its music score, increasing its disorientation. It's amazing.
And the movie ends with probably one of the cleverest punchlines I've seen in film. This movie is basically the I Am Legend movie done right. This movie is based on a book and contradicting to what I said, the readers claim that the ending of this movie was mishandled. I dunno in what way, but it makes me more curious about reading it. For now, I think The Girl With All the Gifts is mindblowing. If Glenn Close fighting a zombie is not enough for you to see it, I dunno what will.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is my review of The Girl With All The Gifts (spoiler free)
THE GIRL WITH all the gifts opens with Melanie (Sennia Nanua) in a boxed jail cell counting in her head, until a hockey-like siren sounds and two heavily soldiers come to the door and wheel her to a classroom full of other infected children who become frenzied when they smell uninfected blood and they learn some lessons with their teacher Miss. Justineau (Gemma Arterton). Each day is like this until she is put under the microscope with Dr. Caldwell and her desperate attempt to find a vaccine and she thinks that Melanie is the answer out of their struggle. The base where they are hiding out is then attacked by a whole horde of un-dead and Melanie along with everybody else must escape alongside Sergeant Parks (Paddy Considine) and their fight for survival has begun as the team is always weary of their safety. Sergeant Parks is a marine type soldier who despises the disease and believes that every single infected must die including Melanie, he doesn't see Melanie and her gifts he just sees a monster, and he just wants her dead. Melanie is unlike any other Hungry she doesn't feel the need to feed on human flesh well not the flesh of Miss Justineau anyway.
Melanie is just a child with an extraordinary gift of immunity to a mysterious fungal disease which as the film goes on we learn what that disease can do. Adapted from the 2014 British best-selling novel by Mike Carey who also helped write the screenplay alongside director Colm McCarthy in only his second feature this is a haunting tale of survival and love and Nanua was just the perfect discovery to play the role of Melanie. Unlike other zombie-ish movies out there instead this is very clever with a lot of drama and scares rolling through it, in this the infected called Hungries hunt in packs and they are a clever mix-up of between the sprinting infected in 28 Days Later and the fungus covered infected from The Last of Us but they also do the most unique thing a part that nobody has seen in a zombie movie before these infected fall asleep, and when the team of survivors must walk quietly between an entire horde of sleeping un-dead. Plus this movie learns the lesson that guns are loud and when you shoot a gun you can get an entire horde on you, also the mass hordes of un-dead don't hang around in buildings they just loom on the streets of London.
As the story goes on the female characters Miss Justineau and Dr. Caldwell even during her desperate attempt to make a vaccine, start to fall in love with Melanie, they start to see that she is a wonderful character who doesn't have the desire to eat them. However Miss Justineau saves Melanie after she eats two soldiers who turn on her and after that Melanie tries everything to stop a frenzied horde attacking her. Not just the female's fall in love with her as the story goes on the she grows on the two men even Sergeant Parks who is in a desperate fight for survival starts to see that she is much more than a monster, she even helps them get rid of the mass hordes but not by killing them instead she lures them away with an animal or another living being. The story is brilliantly complex and very moving as it goes on there are some very tender moments surrounded by some dark laughs and intense scares throughout. Melanie starts to feel like a normal child again and she sees Miss. Justineau as a motherly figure to her. The third act gets even more complex as we learn about these pods which if they are opened they will end civilization as they no it, because the infected will be airborne and anybody who breathes it will turn into an angry monster. Melanie grows on another soldier named Kieran (Fisayo Akinade) but there is one moment that we feel for that character as he ends up like the other characters in many other movies like this, you know exactly how that is.
Along the way the team of survivors and a monster not seen as a full monster find another answer to survival and this is where Dr. Caldwell begins to turn on Melanie as she is worried about the damnation of human life, in a plan that wasn't quite thought out. Although Dr. Caldwell still loves Melanie she just wants the best for her and, as the third act goes on the story gets upsetting as these characters are in total danger, and Melanie does something to save her soul and to save Miss. Justineau in the saddest ending ever that may even make you cry the finale is powerful and moving and very upsetting at first we see a girl whose smart, beautiful and strong and this is shown throughout the film there is one moment when she shows her strong side in a move that's a bit brutish but still quite engaging to see. Despite the camaraderie during the finale it's very powerful, moving and extremely beautiful and the story ends the way it started, this is an immaculate zombie-ish movie that isn't just the best British zombie film but it's the best zombie film ever.
VERDICT: The best zombie-ish movie ever. Sennia Nanua major discovery, but it's the dense social commentary and moral dilemmas ahead that will haunt you.
I've been looking forward to watching this movie and it didn't disappoint! I am a big horror/thriller/drama fan, and I do love zombie movies, and this was a completely new variation that focused more on the human story, which I also love, but the story behind it all is unlike other films I've seen. I'd say this is more of a drama with thriller/horror aspects mainly due to the situation the characters are in, and I'd encourage everyone to give it a watch! The acting is great, the story is unique and interesting and It was not predictable at all. I haven't read the book but I'm going to do so next. I really enjoyed this movie!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'd be lying if I told you that I didn't love zombie films. There's
just something about them, no matter how good or bad, that draws me to
the them like a moth to a flame. The Walking Dead has played a major
part in bringing zombies back into fashion and it's one of my favourite
shows of all time.
There have been so many zombie films over the years but there are only a select few that I've been able to label as anything higher than good. 28 Days Later is certainly one of them, as is Colm McCarthy's The Girl With All the Gifts. As with The Walking Dead and 28 Days Later, The Girl With All the Gifts is a film that gives you the vital ingredient for a good zombie film; characters you care about.
Melanie (Sennia Nanua) is a young girl with a very special attribute; one that could lead to the creation of a vaccine against a virus that has wiped out the majority of the population. Alongside Sgt. Parks (Paddy Considine), Helen Justineau (Gemma Arterton) and Dr. Caldwell (Glenn Close), Melanie embarks on dangerous journey of survival that could lead to the survival of the human race.
I mentioned that the film has the vital ingredient for a good zombie film in characters you care about and it's one of the main reasons I loved The Girl With All the Gifts Mike Carey, who also wrote the novel this has been adapted from, has written characters who do more than just run away and make stupid decisions when being chased by a horde of zombies, or "hungries" as they're labelled in this film.
It's great to see a couple of the characters have some form of arc, Considine's Sgt. Parks having my favourite and the most compelling of the film. All of the characters are so different and it makes for a much more interesting experience seeing how their behaviour towards each other changes throughout.
Colm McCarthy tells this story with such a delicacy but gets down to the gritty stuff when necessary very well, and you really do feel the transition, one stand out moment being a disturbing sequence set in an abandoned newsagents. Aided by some beautiful cinematography from Simon Dennis and intricate production design from Kristian Milsted, The Girl With All the Gifts is one of the most captivating films you'll see all year. Cristobal Tapia de Veer's score adds such a haunting element to the film as well.
Coming to the performances, The Girl With All the Gifts possesses a number of experienced actors such as Paddy Considine and Glenn Close, who only help the film excel above other zombie films as they're good actors, an ingredient usually missing from these films. Along with Gemma Arterton, they are both very good in their roles however, the real star of the film, and rightly so, is Sennia Nanua as Melanie, the twelve year old showcasing a performance of complete innocence and maturity beyond her years. I expect we will be seeing a lot more from Nanua in the future.
I fully expect the final scene to become a very polarising one but I thought it suited the film to a tee. It certainly didn't end the way I was expecting and that's what makes it a such a breath of fresh air for me. The Girl With All the Gifts is one of the must see films of the year and I can't wait to see it again and again.
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