If there is something that cinema is not short of today, the post-apocalyptic is it. Whether it’s full of adolescent teenagers fighting to topple evil regimes or hoards of car junkies driving across barren wastelands we see many of these films a year. The zombie genre is another which frequents our screens often usually with a horror or comedic tone. ‘The Girl with All the Gifts’ combines the two genres but could it make any real impact to audiences who are shown films like these all the time?
The fact that the film is based on the best selling novel of the same name gave me hope and there is definitely a lot here that deserves praise. The film offers no background information for its audience as the opening scenes unfold but I really enjoyed the mystery as to what was actually going on. The whole first act is really super and was the strongest section to the film. As the film progresses there is plenty of tension present which always enhanced scenes and the story has elements of creativity for the very crowded zombie genre. There is a great musical theme running through the film too which suited the atmosphere and had a really catchy hook which made many moments that bit more special. The cast who brought this book to life all do a good job. Sennia Nanua who plays the title role joins the ranks of the other brilliant child performers this year has discovered as she plays a challenging character in Melanie. Gemma Arterton plays a teacher here and she has a major role in terms of her relationship with Melanie. She does well here nailing all the aspects of her character. Alongside these actresses come Glenn Close and Paddy Considine in supporting roles. I would have liked Close to have had a little more screen time but both fulfill their roles with energy and come across well.
However for all of its strengths I did have some issues with the movie. My biggest one takes place during the finale and was an element of the narrative. It’s hard to get into things without venturing into spoiler territory but I just couldn’t make sense of one character decision. Whilst I enjoyed elements of watching said characters decision play out it really took me out of the movie and it almost felt like a ‘what the hell’ writing moment. This will come down to personal preference really but I just couldn’t understand the motivations behind it. As a whole I think the narrative was only good, but with great moments. At times there seemed to be something lacking in terms of holding everything together and joining up the dots of scenes. I don’t think it was an editing issue but after the first act I felt like the film struggled with its flow. As I say though this doesn’t ruin the movie as many individual elements to the story are impressive and within many scenes I thought the writing was of a good quality, for me it just didn’t transpire across the film as a whole. One final distraction I found also was the mannerisms of the zombies, or ‘hungries’ felt a bit too animated for a live action film.
‘The Girl with All the Gifts’ doesn’t reinvent the wheel with either of its genres but is a rather enjoyable entry for both. Whilst I struggled with one element to the narrative in particular and some other minor issues the film still achieves much. The cast work very effectively as a group with believable and intriguing chemistry. When the writing is good, it’s very good and there is plenty of tense and exciting action too. The first act of the film was my favourite though, mastering a section of the story that so many films struggle to make entertaining. Although, the next sections didn’t quite live up to the strong opening this film is still worth seeing and I have a feeling could grow on me with repeat viewings.
Rating – 6.5/10
Question: What is your favourite zombie movie?
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