I personally love it when typical genre films take a simple idea and twist it around so that the perception is different than what you’d typically expect. Take What Maisie Knew, for example. That was another film about a typical genre seen dozens of times – divorce…but told through the eyes of a young child. As an audience member, you get what’s going on, because you’ve seen this played out several times, but the perception of the young girl is what really makes that film special. If you can do it right, you can make a number of movies ultimately special by changing the outlook. That’s what they sort of do with The Girl with All the Gifts…but they also add some originality to the overdone concept as well.
This film focuses on Melanie, who is the girl with all the gifts, as it were. As the film opens, you learn that she, and a number of other students, are all locked in cells. They are strapped down and forced to stay strapped down throughout their class while the teacher speaks. You soon learn the reason why they are strapped down is because they are a special variant of the “Hungry’s”, which loom outside at all times (Zombies). The kids are thinking, speaking zombies that a corporation is studying to try to find some kind of cure to synthesize and fix this dead person problem they’ve been having. When a horde of zombies breaks into the facility, Melanie, her teacher, the doctor, and two armed soldiers attempt to escape into a zombie-infested world so that maybe one day, they’ll finally get around to making that cure.
This is one heck of a movie. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting with this one, but it definitely met all my expectations and more. Besides being incredibly unique and original in terms of zombie films, it’s also beautiful. Yes, they took careful notice to make the setting of the city look dead, but I’m not even talking about that. The way the camera gracefully follows around this mysterious child as she explores her surroundings, finding beauty in the weirdest things, those are the extraordinary shots that make looking at this film a pleasure.
Now, this movie is chosen for this week as one of the not-so-common dystopian films. I went searching for a number of lesser-known dystopian movies, and this movie came up (among others). So, obviously one of my questions was if this is truly dystopian or just another zombie apocalypse movie, which I don’t necessarily consider dystopian. However, I’ll give you the answer to that in a bit, but first…we’ll get down to the nitty-gritty and break this thing down.
PEOPLE SCORE – 8/10
Acting – 2|Characters – 1|Casting – 2|Importance – 1|Chemistry – 2
First off is the people score, in which they did a pretty great job with everything. The acting was phenomenal right off the bat, and I don’t think I’d have anyone else play these roles. Even though a majority of the roles are cast by what I consider unknowns, I think they all worked really well together in a way that no one else could. Where it faltered was most definitely in the characters and importance. You’ll remember Melanie, her teacher, and the doctor, but everyone else is undeniably forgettable and their real goal in the film is hardly touched on. Yes, we know the doctor is obsessed with curing the world, but I didn’t feel that with anyone else. Everyone else was vibing “survive!”…which is fine, but it does mess with the writing a little.
WRITING SCORE – 8/10
Dialogue – 1|Balanced – 2|Story – 1|Originality – 2|Interesting – 2
Next up, we’ll talk about how the film was written. Having a cast that is mostly made up of five people, the film doesn’t really feel over-convoluted. It just follows them through the forest of the world as they try to find a safe haven to continue their research. I believe that the perception and concept of this film have so much unique and original factors. The living zombies, the pods that are growing, etc – so, it is definitely a very interesting idea in general. That being said, nothing they say really stuck out and the story was severely lacking in parts. I would have given story a zero if it weren’t for the fact that I was really invested in what I was watching for whatever reason.
BTS SCORE – 9/10
Visuals – 2|Directing – 2|Editing – 1|Advertisement – 2|Music – 2
That brings us to behind-the-scenes. The technical aspects about this movie are pretty much key for how great it turned out. The people behind-the-scenes really knew what they were doing. First of all, like I said above, it’s really visually impressive. It’s a beautiful movie inside and out. The shots in this film are untouchable. Also, the director was able to visualize those shots and make it a reality to complement his storytelling, which is perfect. I feel like this was as-advertised, the music was really great. The only complaint, if anything, would be to the editing team, which nothing really stood out…but everything else did.
NARRATIVE ARC SCORE – 9/10
Introduction – 2|Inciting Incident – 2|Obstacles – 2|Climax – 2|Falling Action – 1
The story arc is similarily done well. The introduction may be the most unique and important parts of the film, as we are introduced to the zombie kids and mostly what’s going on. The inciting incident is when the zombies knock down the fence to the business doing tests on the kids. The obstacles were primarily really tense moments where people were trying to survive. The climax and the falling action are also mostly there, but I won’t get into spoiler territory.
ENTERTAINMENT SCORE – 6/10
Rewatchability – 1|Fun – 2|Impulse/Buy – 0|Impulse/Talk – 1|Sucks Audience IN – 2
Next up, is it entertaining enough? Well, I think it was mostly entertaining, but it wasn’t perfect. I would consider watching it again, but I won’t be tripping all over myself to watch it again anytime soon. I do think it’s a movie you can have fun watching, as it’ll probably suck you in while watching, but I have no impulse to buy it or really talk about it. I mean, I have some things to say about the movie, but I’ll be okay if I don’t get it off my chest.
TOTAL SPECIAL – 50/50
Dystopian – 10|Zombies – 10|Drama – 10|Thriller – 10|Halfway Decent – 10
Finally, the questions that are written before seeing the film. Firstly, being dystopian week, is this movie dystopian or simply just a zombie apocalypse film…because I don’t consider that the same thing. I would say the beginning of the film didn’t feel dystopian, but once they got outside and explored the ruins of the country, it suddenly felt very dystopian. The zombies are definitely pretty obvious and terrifying. These are the kind that run, but their ability to sense you in this film is a little different…a good type of different. Also, was it dramatic? Very much so. I would say the theme of the movie is pretty dramatic in general, so a lot of the shots, in particular, were shot with drama in mind. Being zombies, how tense was the thriller? I’ve seen a ton of zombie movies, and I gotta say…this movie really does have some tense moments that rival The Walking Dead in some parts…so that’s major points. Finally, was it halfway decent? Yes, yes, and YES!