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Colm McCarthy
Gemma Arterton, Glenn Close, Paddy Considine, Sennia Nanua
Writing Credits:
Mike Carey

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

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.00:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 112 min.
Price: $24.99
Release Date: 4/25/2017

• “Unwrap the Secret World” Featurette
• Previews
• DVD Copy


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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The Girl With All the Gifts [Blu-Ray] (2016)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 27, 2017)

Eventually Hollywood will tire of zombie movies, but “eventually” doesn’t come today. Via 2016’s The Girl With All the Gifts, we get another take on the genre.

In the not-too-distant future, a disease ravages mankind and turns its victims into brainless people-eating monsters known as “hungries”. Some children find themselves semi-immune, however: while they crave the taste of human flesh, they retain normal mental and emotional abilities.

Researchers hope to use the kids to further understand a way to combat the disorder, so the hybrids undergo terrible experiments under the eye of Dr. Caroline Caldwell (Glenn Close). The children also attend school, and teacher Helen Justineau (Gemma Arterton) grows especially attached to a girl named Melanie (Sennia Nanua).

During an attack by outside “hungries”, Melanie manages to escape. Along with Helen, Dr. Caldwell and Army Sgt. Eddie Parks (Paddy Considine), Melanie goes on a journey of survival and self-discovery.

As I implied at the start, filmmakers have beaten the zombie theme to death over recent years. Sure, most of these works attempt their own twists, but they still come with the same vibe. Call them “hungries” instead of “zombies” if you like, but the basic character orientation essentially remains the same.

To my surprise, Gifts offers a solid variation on the theme. No, the hybrid kids we meet aren’t unique in the genre, but they add a curveball, especially because the film makes them seem so pleasant and likable.

This works well, especially at the story’s start. When we first meet Melanie and the other children, we get no explanation of their “hybrid” status. Why are they kept in restraints when they seem to be sweet, nice youngsters? We don’t know – not until Sgt. Parks reminds Helen about the threat they maintain.

I like this choice – even though I read the synopsis and knew where the characters would go, the reveal of the kids’ “inner hunger” proves awfully effective. The movie doesn’t telegraph the “secret”, so despite my foreknowledge, this sequence offers a nice punch.

The rest of the movie follows suit, as Gifts manages to blend genres successfully. It gives us a deeper, more character-based feel than usual for the zombie theme, but it doesn’t sacrifice action or suspense.

Gifts also boasts a nice cast, all of whom develop their roles well. The actors add gravity to the potentially silly proceedings, and Nanua offers a near-revelatory performance.

Face it: Melanie easily could turn into an unintentionally amusing role, largely because the movie places her in scenes with real pitfalls. Forced to snarl, growl and snap, Nanua could’ve made Melanie laughable and goofy.

Happily, Nanua avoids those issues and creates a strong character. She does Melanie’s sweet, gentle side well but also manages the part’s rougher edges with aplomb. Nanua becomes critical to the movie’s success and she acquits herself nicely.

I do think Gifts loses some steam as it goes, but this doesn’t become a substantial impediment to its success. The movie delivers a nice variation on its genre and becomes a thoughtful, engaging exploration.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B+/ Bonus D+

The Girl With All the Gifts appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.00:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This turned into an appropriate presentation.

Overall definition looked fine. Interiors tended to be a little soft, but most of the movie offered good delineation. No signs of jaggies or moiré effects appeared, and I saw no edge haloes or print flaws.

As usual, the palette opted for heavy doses of orange and especially teal. It gave these a somewhat drab feel to fit the story, and the hues looked fine within those constraints.

Blacks were fairly deep and dense, while low-light shots delivered acceptable clarity. This was a more than competent image.

With the movie’s violent action, its DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack offered many moments to shine. In particular, attacks by “hungries” and the military response opened up the spectrum to create a strong sense of the material. These sequences used all the speakers to fill the room with lively, involving information.

Quieter scenes added a nice sense of place, and the mix also used music well. The score spread to the various channels in a vivid manner that worked nicely.

Audio quality also satisfied, with effects that appeared accurate and rich, with deep low-end response. Music seemed warm and full, while speech remained concise and distinctive. This turned into an impressive mix.

A featurette called Unwrap the Secret World of The Girl With All the Gifts runs 20 minutes, 45 seconds. It offers comments from director Colm McCarthy, screenwriter Mike Carey, producer Camille Gatin, movement director Dan O’Neil, makeup artist Scarlett O’Connell, VFX supervisor/2nd unit director Sebastian Barker, and actors Gemma Arterton, Glenn Close, Paddy Considine, Fisayo Akinade, and Sennia Nanua.

“Unwrap” looks at the project’s origins and development, story/characters, cast and performances, makeup and zombie design, sets and locations. “Unwrap” mixes promotion and details to become a perfunctory behind the scenes piece. It doesn’t come with much depth but it gives us a smattering of useful notes.

The disc opens with ads for 31, American Heist, Cell, Come and Find Me and Maggie. No trailer for Gifts appears here.

A second disc provides a DVD Copy of Gifts. It also presents the “Unwrap” featurette.

A clever spin on the well-worn zombie genre, The Girl With All the Gifts manages to mix horror, action and character development in a satisfying way. It blends the various elements in a seamless manner that allows it to become a better than average tale. The Blu-ray offers very good picture and audio but it skimps on supplements. Chalk up Gifts as a compelling experience.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 8
6 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

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