The Girl With All The Gifts Review

During the early 2010s, the zombie craze was huge. While zombies had been a part of entertainment all the way back from the 1950s (mainly through George Romero), as soon as The Walking Dead came out, along with things such as Call Of Duty‘s Zombie mode and others, the zombie craze blew up. Now, a few years after the buzz has died, a new zombie film.

The Girl With All The Gifts stars Sennia Nanua, Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine and Glenn Close and is directed by Colm McCarthy. Set in the near future after a zombie outbreak, a young girl called Melanie (Nanua) finds out she is immune to their infections.

Most zombie films deal with the immediate aftermath of the outbreak. Even films such as 28 Days Later, a corner stone of the new zombie films, are set during the initial breakout of whatever creates the monsters. Here, it is a few years after the disease first struck, meaning there has been some developments. Bases are set up that house the half-breed human/zombies, anti-zombie drugs are rationed and the mutation is ever evolving in the towns and cities, now overgrown with fauna and flora. It’s a set-up that apart from Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, I can’t think of many films that have explored it, but is brought to life wonderfully through the film. It’s got hints of John Wnydham’s Day Of The Triffids, with the abandoned cities and oppresive atmosphere, just this time with zombies instead of plants.

The cast are good in their respective roles. Paddy Considine and Glenn Close, who are both part of the military detail that is working towards a cure, have clear arcs and motives. None of them are reduced to silly stereotypes or have odd reveals, they react like real characters, with emotion and thoughts, rather than what the script needs them to do. Gemma Arterton is alright as teacher Helen, but nothing really standout. The best though is young Sennia Nanua as Melanie, the titular character, who has the bloodlust of a zombie but can regulate it and appear like a human girl. Through the film she moves from eager youngster, reading books and writing stories, before having to grow up and become a vital member of the survivors. Her full range of emotions and states, including when she goes into full-on zombie mode are incredibly good for an actress as young and untested as her (this is her second production, and first feature film).

The film has a relatively low budget (£4 million), but it works to the films favour. The stripped-back effect of the films creates a better world. This isn’t a big-budget Hollywood zombie film like World War Z or even a American-style satire like Dawn of The Dead. It feels more like a real-world event rather than a staged film, without zombies running left and right. The zombies are to be feared rather than fought. The biggest set-pieces hardly involve fighting the monsters but rather tip-toeing past them and hoping that they don’t sniff you out.

There is only one real action scene, just after the first half an hour. At the beginning, I wasn’t really sure where the film was going, it’s slow paced and focussing more on characters than giving us a creature feature. But once we are lead out of the underground facility where the first act is confined to, out into the open, we get a glorious raging battle between soldiers and zombies. The entire scene is done in one long take, spanning a few minutes and involving well over a hundred extras. The work and effort to create it must have been astounding, and is worthy of praise.

In the end, The Girl With All The Gifts is an interesting addition to the zombie canon. For those waiting on a The Last of Us film to come out, go watch The Girl With All The Gifts while you can. It’s the closest you’ll come to getting it.

Score: 7/10 A refreshing blend of horror and science-fiction.

Mad Max: Fury Road Review


This review come courtesy of Galleon newspaper film critic Zach Lockwood, who after coming back from the opening day screening offered to write a review for the website. Thanks Zach!


If there was one thing that was consistent in the original Mad Max trilogy, it would be the madness. The post-apocalyptic madness of Australian policeman Max, played by Mel Gibson, setting out to track down a vicious biker gang in the first part of the trilogy Mad Max.  Then the sequel The Road Warrior (and very much the best of the three) is basically a futuristic Seven Samurai. Finishing with Beyond Thunderdome whose narrative is so convoluted its barley possible to give a 50-word synopsis. One key theme follows all of these movies, madness. The outlandish design of the cars, costumes and landscape paints a horrifyingly punk-western future of the human race. Mad Max: Fury Road has that same element of madness, that takes the normal action movie, and blows it completely out of the water, and for the first time, George Miller (director, writer and producer) has got it right.

Max, played by Tom Hardy, is a survivor, living through the apocalypse that’s seen the world vying for commodities such as oil, water and bullets. Captured by the warrior slaves of Immortan Joe, self-elected God of the Citadel, Max finds himself tied to the front of Nux’s (Nicholas Holt) Death Race style desert car, leading the tirade of post-apocalyptic gothic vehicles in pursuit of Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) who’s escaped from the clutches of Immortan Joe with his slave wives (Zoe Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee).

If I’m entirely honest it is one of the strangest films I’ve ever seen. As it’s a continuation of the original Mad Max trilogy, and not a prequel/reboot, it would seem odd to cast Tom Hardy who looks nothing like Mel Gibson. He also seems to be channelling an even more silent and grizzly Harrison Ford from Blade Runner. The film is also near silent, with very little dialogue, which may seem a wise decision post-casting four catwalk models as leads. The film has the look of Rodríguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn, powerful reds and oranges highlighted by long wide shots of the deserts and the multitude of vehicles smashing and crashing into each other. The cinematography is breathtaking, and I would advise anyone to see this film in IMAX if they have the slightest opportunity. Saying that the 3D as usual is interesting in the first twenty minutes with multiple in your face action, but after that it just serves no purpose. There are many flashback scenes that Max has, hinting at the original trilogy with the murders of his wife and child, but other than that it doesn’t really delve into the original that much.

This film is not only one of the best of the years so far, I would find it very hard to think of any film other than the forthcoming James Bond film SPECTRE and the Star Wars sequel that could challenge Mad Max: Fury Road for best film of the year. Tom Hardy in his dialogue-free acting is electrifying. George Miller has assembled and directed a fantastic female cast, giving new voices to the action genre. Few people were expecting powerful feminism from the Mad Max franchise, yet here it is, and it’s refreshing to see. But most of the fun is in watching the magnificently eccentric and crazy world that Miller has created over four films. The cars that are just a mish-mash of what can be found at the nearest scrap yard with an engine attached. The violence is revolutionary for the action genre, evoking the films title, ‘mad’ in every punch, explosion and gunshot. It’s very surprising to see a clear blockbuster explosion film deliver so well without having to leave your brain at the door. The dialogue is punchy and the visual effects are spectacular. This isn’t just a great summer blockbuster; it’s a great film.

Score: 9/10 Thirty years on, George Miller still has it in him to create a great action film