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With Jim Sabatini

Girl With All the Gifts

Girl With All the Gifts
Gemma Arterton, Dominique Tipper and Glenn Close

Rated: R for disturbing violence/bloody images, and for language.
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: February 24, 2017 Released by: Saban Films

Another zombie apocalypse flick from the U.K. doesn't measure up to others like World War Z or 28 Days Later, though it works fairly well off an interesting premise, at least for a while.

The Girl With All The Gifts has been available for on-line viewing and is getting a theatrical release which may lure some of The Walking Dead (now in the last half of Season 7) small-screen viewers. Perhaps that's the intention of the director Colm McCarthy working with scenarist Mike Carey from his own novel as the allegorical influence of George A. Romero will be felt by those immersed in the genre.

The central figure is a very cerebral, inquisitive pre-pubescent girl, Melanie (Sennia Nanua, a 12-year-old during the shoot), guarded and restrained with other children (being tested on because of their perceived nature) in a fortified bunker because of a strange fungal infection ravaging her native land. The early portion is rather striking and riveting like Nanua's shaded, thoughtful unexpected portrait.

What happens to victims of this virus whom Melanie has become immune is like the shifty, swift undead of Danny Boyle's superior Later, here called 'hungries.' The Girl pivots on the scary encroachment and grim aftermath of Melanie rising to the fore when beset by the harrying hungries and plans to outwit them which often obviously get thwarted as the destination turns out to be a major metropolis.

The pacing of the midsection and latter reels begins to reveal the pragmatic approach of McCarthy and Carey that could have benefitted from more judicious editing to offer more immediacy as taut set-pieces are rendered to intermittent engaging effect. The bacteria itself becomes finally important as a camouflaging gel is employed against the various assaults. Melanie's blood and spinal fluid could be vital in terms of handling the virus, but captivating images as an arresting enclosing (one-take) feral ambush give way to more enervating erraticism than emotional provocation.

What is more imprudent and less pointed than what All The Gifts appeared to unfold as a solid horror entry isn't due to a nifty Nanua whose Melanie learns to adapt to a new terrain. On a treacherous trek she has some ironic, witty lines opposite Paddy Considine's wary, if protective Sgt. Parks. Glenn Close offers an icy, inveterate treatment to her calculating researcher Dr. Caldwell, while Gemma Arterton forges a palpable bond with Nanua as her caring, increasingly concerned instructor Helen. Too bad Melanie's plight leaving the only place she's ever unknown with ensuing violence for the primary demographic doesn't nearly live up to the attributes of an inviting moniker.

  Frank Chris Jim Dave Nina Matt Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Girl With All the Gifts        C+                     C+ 

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