Adaptation Blu-ray Review

'The Girl with All the Gifts' Blu-ray Review: Spawn of the dead

April 24, 2017Ben MK

Officially, the movie and television genre reached "peak zombie" years ago. Yet, somehow, the pull of the undead is just too strong for filmmakers to stay away. Whether it's straight-to-video schlock, cult television programming or major motion pictures, zombies aren't just shambling — they're thriving, as evidenced by The Girl with All the Gifts, an adaptation of the 2014 novel by author Mike Carey.

A story about a young girl named Melanie (newcomer Sennia Nanua), The Girl with All the Gifts bears several of the hallmarks of young adult fiction, from the dystopian future setting — a world plagued by a virus that turns humans in zombie-like creatures nicknamed "Hungries" — to the adults (Paddy Considine, Gemma Arterton and Glenn Close) who think that children are the key to solving the crisis. The big difference this time is that Melanie isn't just the film's main character; she's also infected with the zombie virus. And when the British military base where a cure is being developed is overrun by hordes of infected, she may be the key to everyone's survival.

Outside of its zombie protagonist aspect, though, the rest of The Girl with All the Gifts unfolds exactly like how you'd expect a zombie movie would, which is to say that while director Colm McCarthy tries a few interesting things (most notably, an homage to "Lord of the Flies"), the bulk of the movie doesn't go beyond genre expectations. Otherwise, the cast is rock-solid, and there's just enough bloody carnage to satisfy hardcore zombiphiles. But if you're looking for a zombie movie with more brains, your best bet is to just keep calm and shamble on.

At the outset, The Girl with All the Gifts' Blu-ray presentation doesn't appear to be much to write home about. Much of the film's first act takes place within an underground bunker, and while the details in textures and closeups of the actors' faces are noticeable, the 1080p image just isn't that eye-catching, thanks to a drab color palette dominated by the hues of military camouflage. As the movie progresses and the setting moves to an abandoned London overrun by vegetation and the infected, however, things begin to perk up, with warmer tones and a more robust visual design rooted in lush greens and crimson red. As for the sound design, the film leans more on dialogue-driven scenes early on; however, where the disc's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix really gets to flex its muscle is in depicting the familiar genre sounds of feral growling, automatic gunfire and the gnawing of flesh.

Elevation Pictures' two-disc Blu-ray combo pack includes an iTunes digital copy and a DVD; however, there are no Blu-ray extras.

The Girl with All the Gifts is available from Elevation Pictures as of April 25th, 2017. The Blu-ray features an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track and is presented with English SDH subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 51 Mins.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original TIFF review, published on September 8th, 2016.

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