"The Girl with All the Gifts" 2017 Movie Review
Directed by: Colm McCarthy
Written by: M.R. Carey
Genre: Horror, Drama, Zombies
Release date: 24 February 2017 (US)
My Rating: 5/10
Verdict: Watch if you like zombies with less gore
If you've seen any zombie film, and then you watch this, you will know that this movie is definitely on the non-gore-y side in comparison. But just in case you get fooled, this is a zombie movie, and there is gore. But it wasn't anything gross, and I usually get grossed out by blood.
I have to start off by saying that I'd been looking forward to this movie for ages. I've been a fan of Gemma since I saw her in Prince of Persia and Byzantium (I will review both one day). She is a good actress and she's gorgeous. But yeah, I did not know this movie existed until I stalked her filmography page. I haven't read the book, so can't say much (though I read the summary and know one little difference near end of book/movie that I will compare). This rating is solely taking into account the movie by itself.
Okay, now that we got that out of the way, let's talk zombies.
I have to say, I loved the premise. I loved the idea, the direction the film was going, the cause of the zombie outbreak was very unique, and it had a twist near the end. There were some really slow parts in the middle (which, frankly, almost made me dose off), but it picks up again. But what made me give this movie 5 stars instead of more is because of the ending. Because I thought it was stupid.
It was a twist for sure, but the movie could end in 2 ways (that I saw), and near the climax, both were possible, but I was hoping she would go with the other because it would be so disturbing (I'll explain later), but at the same time, it would make Melanie the hero, and mankind's savior.
I won't spoil what actually happens - here - but I will be thorough in the spoiler section.
In terms of acting, it was good. Everyone delivered. But god, did I end up really disliking our main characters. I liked the villains more than the "heroes" in this movie. Which is ironic, since this movie was really trying to make us like the main characters - they concentrated on philosophy here (to some degree), and paint the villains as the real bad guys. Ha. Maybe I'm evil.
I love controversial topics - as you may know by now, but I like them because I have fun either tearing it to pieces or doing insane research to support that topic. In this case, I ended up doing the former.
It's so unlike me, with controversial topics. I thought that I would really support this one. If I compare the theme of this movie to the theme of I am legend (the book - movie completely changes this), then they are the same. But the delivery is terrible for this movie/book compared to I am legend.
Here's the thing (I'll try to be as spoiler free as possible), if we are following a story where we have humans on the brink of extinction, zombies, and hybrids that are human but with zombie appetite, there is grounds for arguments rising on whether we should treat these kids humanely instead of as abominations or test subjects.
Throughout the film, we follow Melanie, who is this hybrid. She loves pleasing the people around her. She's super sweet and smart. She is unique. She's a special snowflake of sorts - although technically she's surrounded by others like her. Melanie loves Helen, her teacher. She would do anything to appease her. Well, until it comes time to change tactic. I'll stop here.
Let's talk about the zombie outbreak.
So we aren't told much about this, we sort of jump right into the midst of it. We are in some military base, then something happens and they end up leaving.
The first thing I liked was the main military guy - sergeant Parks. The reason I liked him was because he didn't fall for the zombie tropes used in movies and tv shows. I'm sort of really tired of people being stupid and not checking their partners and then having them turn and bite them. This is so common in the zombie universe that I am sick of it. Parks, on the other hand, did not hesitate for one second to blow someones brains out when they were bit. I really love that about a character. Sure of himself, not dangerously emotional (as Helen will be - you wait). The doctor had her faults too, but she was certainly goal oriented and determined to find a cure. If she succeeds, she will be mandkinds savior; if she fails, she will die trying. These two are the villains of the movie, by the way.
The zombies are hardly a danger because they've created this masking cream; it hides human scent, so you will have to provoke a zombie to get sniffed for a live human when wearing it (though it doesn't last too long). I liked this part of the movie because finally, a movie that has scientists that are worthy of their title - being useful and creating things to avoid getting bit. You would think the scientists from the walking dead would have figured this out and created a similar thing, instead of having the main characters take a zombie-blood shower to hide their own scent...but I digress.
But here's the fun part: Spores; speed pods with spores that if released (by burning the spore plant), will end humanity. Fun. Airborne zombie virus. They don't explore this too much, but I really liked that the zombie outbreak was caused by some fungal infection. And now, it's evolving to be more effective: airborne to kill off all humanity (not yet though - needs outside intervention to become airborne). I'm skipping some very vital information here, but that's because it will spoil it.
My theory, while not explained in the movie, is that these zombies are still live. They are just infected. They eat and they die - without human intervention (again, skipping something very important on purpose).
In terms of the hybrids, I can't say how they came to be (it's a cool story, and very believable scientifically. In fact, aside from the fungal virus, this was my second favorite part of the movie. The story of how the hybrids came to be. It's really messed up, but I won't spoil). All we need to know is that there are hybrids, and they're all kids (at least that's what we're shown, and based on the premise, it's understandable).
I'll leave it there.
Helen and Melanie:
Before I talk about these 2, I have to criticize this picture/scene from movie (it's in the trailer, so not a spoiler).
So because of some issues at the base, Helen is "escorted" out of somewhere by 2 soldiers. Then the zombies overtake the base (still not a spoiler), and Melanie ends up biting and killing those 2 soldiers. And instead of running away, Helen picks up Melanie and then later thanks her.
What is wrong with this woman?
What Melanie did was not to save Helen. She was just acting on her zombie instincts. I don't understand why Helen felt so indebted to her after this. Honestly, that was beyond stupid. There was zero indication that Melanie wouldn't have bit her had those 2 soldiers not been there. Also, why would the soldiers be a threat to Helen during that whole scene. I would expect them to either Protect Helen, or just ditch her and kill zombies. Nobodies actions - except Melanie's - made any sense.
I'm still scratching my head.
But whatever, let's talk about Melanie and Helen.
This is a student teacher relationship. Being the brightest from Helen's class, Helen has taken a liking to her. Her affection for the hybrid has made her do stupid things such as: pat her even though it's dangerous, be so close that the kid loses it (clip included below), carry the kid even though she can bite her when she wakes, be protective/trusting of her even though there is real reason to fear the kid. Honestly, I kept expecting Melanie to bite one of the group-mates. Hell, one time that kid had to literally yell "yo, I'm realllllly hungry" to let the group know she was becoming a danger. That's how oblivious Helen and others were. It was embarrassing.
Personally, I was on the side of the kid until the kid started displaying a superiority complex. Then the story went to shit.
Ending (No spoilers):
The ending, while almost mirroring the book, was still very lacking. I was really disappointed, and it's the biggest reason why I couldn't give above 5 rating.
I love movie endings of all sorts, happy or sad, but this one had a lot of issues that I will address in the spoiler section.
For now, this is all I can say: watch if you want a decent zombie movie, but you might end up enjoying World War Z more (especially if you like action). If you like controversial endings, you might want to give this one a go, but go in prepared. It's controversial, but it's got major flaws.
Ending (Spoilers Included):
Ok, for the fun stuff!
The ending: spoilers included. You have been warned. This is a long analysis with some fun scenarios.
Book vs Movie:
The teacher ends up in a Lab enclosed to outside pollen toxicity, and ends up teaching the kids how to be...smarter, I guess. The book ends similarly, but the difference is that she has a suit she can wear to go outside. To touch others and be outside. In the movie, she is just locked in the lab, indefinitely. More depressing, for sure. And I kept feeling like she deserved it. I liked the movie more. If they're going to end humanity, might as well torture the person who essentially played a role in humanity's downfall.
She almost chooses to end her life for humanity to survive, but once hearing that she is "alive", she ditches that effort, locks the teacher in a place, and then releases the pollen so it's airborne.
Why I hated this: humanity was extensively evolved and not crazy meataterians/zombies. We communicated well and had a very functioning society verging on space exploration. But the ending the little girl chooses was selfish, irrational and pathetic. She decides to kill off the more superior race (yes, the human race was much more superior), and instead chooses her race of.....honestly, her race of Cavemen (the hybrids are exactly like cavemen, and they're all young). Talk about some serious DEvolution. Honestly, I would have been more impressed had she given up her life for the teacher she loved to save the human race, rather than imprison a teacher and basically sentence her to very soon death once the little pod she's enclosed in will break down and stop functioning (nothing lasts, and Helen will turn sooner or later).
Helen is seen crying as she wakes in her new prison, to teach the hybrids/cavemen some human lessons. I did not feel sorry for her situation. She was so damn caring and empathetic. There is good empathy, and then theres dangerous empathy. From the start, her empathy was dangerous (which is actually how I predicted that human extinction was imminent and the new "race" would be the one surviving)...and it ends up dooming her and humanity.
Lets do a simulation of this new world the hybrid girl envisions: the teacher teaches them human ways as much as possible before she dies, the hybrids become as human as possible, end up taking over the new world and adapting to human technology and learning our ways (probably a few generations for hybrids to be back on track to where humanity was)...and then bam. They're out of meat. This is assuming, they didn't run out of meat to began with (keep in mind they are competing with billions of zombies at present). Society is usually more civilized in larger numbers, and better at advancing because of this...but there can't be that many of them...and they all need meat. I'm going to assume that half the planet is completely radioactive and uninhabitable (containment purposes from military perspective---blow up a city/etc to prevent spreading)..and the rest died already from the extreme meat intake from the zombies...leaving very little left for this new generation of hybrids. So...they're going to have to learn to control themselves to breed animals(aka, they're going to need a few generations to be up to speed on this topic)..by which time it might be too late.
I'm no genius on this, so speculation on my part...but i highly doubt that this new species would be able to control their instinct of wanting to eat/lost their minds and chase/eat whatever they come across....this isn't a desire that humans face...it's instinctual on their part. Because of this reason alone, I don't see this new race surviving long or even in large numbers. I suspect the meat resource will run dry before they learn how to breed(keep in mind, that while these hybrids are less crazy and more constructive, their competitors-the zombies-r less so and will eat anything they come by--and because they're no direct threat to the hybrids...the hybrids won't kill them when they should have)....and by then it will be too late. The reason why humanity is so advanced is because we are extremely good at consuming anything and everything we come by. We don't depend on one food source to sustain us...or else we would have most surely died off long ago, or at the very least, would not be this successful(less food=less of us=less of society=less advancement--think cavemen days).
I'm taking a leap here. In reality, I highly doubt they would know how to plant veggies/keep farms (Helen does not seen knowledgable in this and the kids are more intent on learning history lessons than more important subject matters).
But lets try another simulation(star trek inspired): They did succeed in solving all of the above problems, they now have some serious ranches of animals on lands (screw vegetation unless they directly feed animals that they will consume-- I suspect chickens will be victims again)..and they've learned the human ways and have even excelled at them..advanced in tech and science. Let's say that they have mastered space exploration and somehow end up finding new alien species.
Problem: they will probably want to eat them. LOL. They will be the monsters humans would wish they didn't encounter in outer space. Needless to say, perhaps they have learned to completely block their smell senses. Other species who are less carnivorous would be less susceptible in accepting them into their circle. They're more likely to make enemies than friends. And they most certainly will not be accepted into other alien worlds when they pose a direct threat (they might eat us).....Space exploration will not be friendly and might most likely be threatened by other more advanced and less carnivorous aliens (who might find their existence or their space exploration not to their liking: could go both ways: "go back to where you came from and never space travel", ORRR...they will just kill them--these aliens might not be very...nice).
This is all assuming that they somehow got their shit together and found a way to control their urges and have a good society (probably mimicking a human one, with one major flaw of insatiable hunger for live meat)...and then go into space exploration. What if they find a way to replicate meat: This is pretty useless considering the second simulation. Whether they eat cloned live meat or not, they are still eating a live animal because they can't control themselves. Star trek scenario still stays (in fact, I don't think they can truly explore space that far to find other aliens if they haven't mastered replication of food).
But what if they find a "cure": I highly doubt it. Their body probably wont live without meat. Their need for meat is probably heavily connected to their need to live on. Try giving an animal that can't eat veggies to eat veggies. Their body won't take in nutrients/can't digest and will most likely be poisoned. They literally can't survive without meat.
What if they learn to control their hunger: Same as above. Unless they can master genetic engineering and somehow manage to weed out the genes that make them go crazy over live meat. BUT: if they succeed in this, then the original act will have been for nothing = the hybrids are a defect, and the humans were more superior; by removing the hunger, they have become human (which was the only thing differing the human from the hybrid).
Melanie's argument "you had your chance, it's our turn now" becomes null because they actually have to mutate themselves through genetic engineering to become like humans to be more successful: which means, her race was inferior, and she should have helped humanity find a cure.
(back to 2nd simulation):
Even if they found allies in space or conquered our galaxy, they are still less superior than humans because they can only eat meat (and not just meat, live meat-very inconvenient), and they are victims to their own uncontrollable hunger.
Note: near ending of movie we see the teacher teaching about 20-30 students. I'm sure there are very savage hybrids all over the world at this stage...and if you do even a little research on this matter about child psychology and the importance of the first 5 or so years of its life..you will know that it's extremely difficult, almost impossible, to change their ways once they've lived like that for so long (and these hybrids range from 5-15 years old). I suspect that my original plan of them becoming intelligent beings in a few generations was optimism. Maybe only Melanie's little group might be that intelligent, or their offspring, but I doubt anyone else. The rest of the hybrid savages will be very cavemen like for many generations (human evolution all over again, but possibly slowly because of hunger issues). Which means....hybrid society becoming intelligent and advanced would probably not happen in time).
I originally didn't want to add this part, but I will anyways: at this point in time, I suspect that humanity has a number of underground places that are safe from the spores being released into the air. I suspect while a lot of humanity will have turned after the spores were released into the air (I feel like I'm talking about alien series, lol), there will be enough of them underground, ones who are doctors and scientists, who will continue their search for the cure. My point: I think Melanie will have competitors even with her plan of trying to eradicate the human race in favor of her cavemen-hybrid race.
And this very long analysis of scenarios is why I couldn't stand the ending. Sure, it might feel nice and hopeful that these kids survived, but they could have survived and gotten help if humans had a cure too. All Melanie did was choose her race of monsters over the humans that had built this society and advancements.
This movie was trying to mimic I am Legend - where (book) the vampires become the new better race (which is more believable) - but this movie did not convince me of its ending. All I could think about was how it was the wrong decision. Wrong to kill of humanity, wrong to give her species a chance when all my scenarios point to their downfall too.
Maybe it's for the best. This planet needs a break from us humans anyways. ha.
I hope you enjoyed my rant (it felt more like a rant).
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