Ricky's Film Reviews

Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases

The Girl with All the Gifts

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A scientist and a teacher living in a dystopian future embark on a journey of survival with a special young girl named Melanie.

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Cast

Gemma Arterton – Helen Justineau

Sennia Nanua – Melanie

Glenn Close – Dr. Caroline Caldwell

Paddy Considine – Sgt. Eddie Parks

Anamaria Marinca – Dr. Selkirk

 

Day 1 - 69th Locarno Film Festival

 

What Gifts?

The Girl with All the Gifts. At first, I wondered exactly what the “gifts” were. I mean, what can a girl chained to a chair provide anyone? Jewellery? CK One? Family planning advice? And then I realised – in an artistic, melodramatic way the producers obviously mean’t knowledge. Personality. Possible vaccine. And all those other crappy cliché elements the lead characters parade through the movie.
That said, I was very glad this movie didn’t zone in all of its scenes on Melanie. Fortunately, it is constructed of various action scenes using her as he protagonist but not the movie’s leader. In a sense, all characters were as important – and got enough screen time – as each other.

The backing story was fantastic. But still didn’t top one of my all-time favourite movies..

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28 Triffid Legends

The Girl with All the Gifts reminded me of three features I have seen before:
Day of the Triffids.
I Am Legend.
28 Weeks Later.
And for this, I really enjoyed it. It made a very entertaining watch.
What you have here is a plague / zombie-style apocalypse which slowly worsens when it is revealed that the strange vines and plants growing all over the city will bring an even more tragic fate – and possibly the entire end of mankind – when the pods open. It’s an intriguing watch, and splits the movie into a guessing game towards the end.

The ‘Hungries’ are just brilliant; sprinting all over the city to devour their next victim. This time round however, the practically deceased beings have a different quality to zombies we’ve seen in previous 28 Weeks-type movies. A touch of I Am Legend here when they stop – and sleep whilst standing. The zombies become idle until woken by something. This is a nice touch and ensures one of the final scenes of the movie is positively nail-biting. I loved watching the handful of survivors step incredibly slowly through the crowds, it was a scene I didn’t expect at all. Again, with such cliché undercurrents to the plot I expected a load of shit – but got a load of fantastic. Top marks for the gripping tensity used during The Girl with All the Gifts, the producers couldn’t have done better.

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The backing cast / extras playing zombies are flawless. They are your standard flesh-eating zombies, but they perform with such a great energy.
I say ‘standard’ zombies.. there are those classic characteristics I’m sure many of you have picked up on:

The actor runs directly forward,
arms down at his / her sides,
flapping shirt & trousers,
wildly blowing hair,
sprinting (as though taking part in a military exercise) legs,
and with that classic shifting camerawork which gives the zombies an almost 3D appearance.

I can’t help but notice this in most of the zombie movies I’ve seen – that they carry the same characteristics as the previous movie. Weird.
Good, but weird.

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A Good Split

What this movie does nicely is split the emotion and apocalypse so that they balance each other out. Like the starter, viewers get a few heart-tugging scenes involving Helen (Arterton) and Melanie (Nanua) as the teacher tries not to get too close to the charming, intelligent girl whilst trying to save her. And like the main course, once outside in the dystopian world that has been destroyed by the fungal disease, the shit kicks off as the zombies gather and a fight for survival (and cure) begins.
This is good; it ensures any slow-moving parts of the movie are nicely compensated for by jumpy moments and a few scares. Great stuff.

As for the overall story – brilliant. Never before have I seen a concept such as fungus growing around people’s brains which turns them into man-eating monsters. This imaginative story develops even further when many of these monsters (zombies) are found huddled, dead, with roots and stems growing from their mouths. On these roots are pods; which once opened cause catastrophic consequences..
Just brilliant. It’s a new twist on the genre that creates a big impact, top marks for this also.

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Arterton and Close – what a match! For some reason they are one of the last couples I would think of partnering up to lead a movie. But, it works. Although being at different ends of the spectrum from each other, Arterton’s naturally homely ‘British big sister’ traits and Close’s dynamic disposition mix well and deliver the goods. They are highly effective as enemies-turned-friends, a pleasure to watch.
Christ. To think Arterton was nearly two years old when Close starred in Fatal Attraction. And now they’re both on screen together.

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Torch Tower

Loving the whole focus on London’s BT Tower. The use of a famous (if you walk down the right street to see it) landmark is always interesting (Musée du Louvre in Da Vinci Code, Greenwich Cutty Sark in London Has Fallen, etc.). If you are local to the area the movie is filmed in – or using the location of – it adds a familiar touch which is nice. So for once the BT Tower gets its own cameo, instead of all those bridges and churches that are always used.

In a sinister plot twist, the vines which now sprout from the Hungries mouths (a froup of them obviously at the foot of the tower) start to creep their way up the BT Tower, engulfing it totally in a new form of plant life. The tower quickly becomes a beacon of pods which are wrapped around the entire building. It makes a bizarre image, as well as gripping plot element. I liked this. It rang familiar with me as I see the tower a lot when I pop into central London for a foamy Starbucks in Soho.

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And that’s that. The Girl with all The Gifts. Much better than I anticipated, with some nice performances and great set.

Good stuff.

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This entry was posted on October 8, 2016 by .
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