The Girl with All the Gifts Review

Using my Laughs, tears, cheese and cheers rating system, here is my spoiler-free review for British zombie-flick ‘The Girl with All the Gifts’, with links below if you want to find out more.


Quick Summary

I’ve been looking forward to watching this, both because of my general love of ‘serious’ Zombie movies, and because a large part of it was filmed just a few miles up the road from me in my home City of Stoke-on-Trent. Although it falls a little short of being a classic in the genre, it is entertaining, and showcases the ambition of British cinema.

Laughs: 0/5

I like my Zombie movies serious, and by that I mean not goofy. So, it’s kind of a good thing that there is nothing to laugh about, but it could have lightened the tone a little in places to help develop the sense of bonding between the characters.

Tears: 2/5

All good zombie films find a unique route through the genre. In this case we follow the story of a young girl who is, well, different. Her charm and innocence contrast with the brutal life she has been born into, making the viewer sympathetic to her cause, mainly thanks to a very sweet and occasionally chilling performance from the young star Sennia Nanua.

The rest of the characters were a little too stereotypical to care much about, although Gemma Arterton’s ‘Helen’ came the closest.

Cheese: -1/-5

To avoid spoilers, all I will say is that at one point it goes a bit ‘Lord of the Flies’ meets George A. Romero, and I don’t think it quite pulls it off in the way that I think they probably imagined on the storyboard, or in the original book (that I have not read, so I don’t know…)

Cheers: 1/5

I’ve been a bit stingy with the ‘cheers’ category because while I enjoyed the film, it never quite reaches the heights of drama or depth of character done so well before in ’28 Days Later’, which you naturally compare it to, being a British ‘big-ish’ budget zombie movie. As such, the finale doesn’t have the impact or the sense of scale that is implied by the plot.

Fears: 2/5

There are some good, tense moments of tip-toeing through herds of ‘sleeping’ zombies that could spring into life at a loud sound or fast movement. But it is inconsistent, and soon overcome in ways I shall not mention. Also, a lot of the action takes place in relatively well-lit areas, which is rarely the bed-fellow of nail-biting horror and sometimes showed up the zombies for what they really were: a load of extras in make-up. I find it hard to be scared at extras in make-up, especially when I may well know some of them because it was filmed in the bus station I used to visit as a spotty teenager.

Bonus Category: Up ‘Anley Duck +3

I’m unashamedly going to award a whopping 3 bonus points for being both a British film, and because a large part of the filming took place in my home city of Stoke-on-Trent.

We occasionally get the odd film crew up here in Staffordshire, but not often, and I think a lot of local people were used as extras. Presumably it also brought some money in somewhere along the line, but mainly, it’s always good when the industry breaks out of London and remembers the rest of us (even though the film was set in London, I will always know it was actually the old Hanley bus station, which, to be fair, already looked like a dystopian nightmare before it was closed).

Total: 7

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Westworld (1973) Review

Using my Laughs, tears, cheese and cheers rating system, here is my spoiler-free review for the 1973 movie ‘Westworld’ that inspired the recent series on HBO of the same name, with links below if you want to find out more.


Quick Summary

This is one of those films I knew I’d seen at some point in my teen years, probably late night on Channel 4 one night on my grainy portable TV I used to have in my room. With the recent HBO reboot (of which I’ve only seen the first few episodes so far, but liked what I saw), I fancied a revisit, and as luck would have it, up it popped on Amazon Prime. Not as complex as I was expecting, but with some straightforward yet effective tech-thriller moments that mark it out as ahead of its time, and well worth a refresher.

Laughs: 1/5

I was surprised, and a little disappointed, to find that there is a comic relief character thrown into the mix, all be it briefly, in the form of an elderly, stout tourist who fancies himself as a bit of a gunslinger and has a few slapstick moments. It lightens the tone of the film that I always remembered as being wonderfully dark, but isn’t overdone. Apart from that, the portrayal of consumer-mad American tourists is generally comical, but that is more of a social comment I think, and works well.

Tears: 0/5

Perhaps the few episodes of the HBO series I watched primed me too much, as this film has pretty much zero character development or back-story concerning the guests or the architects of the park itself. Therefore, there isn’t really much to grasp onto when it comes to emotional attachment.

Cheese: -1/-5

It’s hard to mark this when it was made in a decade that can’t but help sometimes to be cheesy. However, as I mentioned in the ‘laughs’ section, the comic relief was a bit too slapstick and even for its time, I’m sure the filmmakers could have cut it out.

Cheers: 2/5

I didn’t realise when I originally watched this how much of a blueprint it was for things to come. Pretty much one big chase scene between crazed killer robot and man, you get the same feeling of tension and climax that was to appear a decade later in ‘The Terminator’, and I can’t imagine this wasn’t a direct influence on that and many others. Add to that the fact that it was written and directed by the work-horse Michael Crichton, who would go on to hone his amusement-park-gone-mad concept into the timeless Jurassic Park series, making this a film that puts the viewer in the chase, and feeling each gasp and triumph along the way.

Fears: 3/5

With very creative use of the visual fx available at the time, and a chillingly soulless performance from Yul Brenner as ‘The Gunslinger’, this is the original terminator: a relentless technological force that drives the film and the human survivor deeper into danger with every infra-red scanned step. This is straight-up cat and mouse, but the cat happens to be a dead-eyed, psychotic robot gunslinger. Who can argue with that?!

Bonus Category: Classic Crichton +1

I’m going to use this an opportunity to award a bonus point purely for being the work of the unbelievably eclectic Michael Crichton. This guy produced a great deal of what we know as popular culture today, and was an unbelievably productive writer and producer. Just check out his Wikipedia (linked below) to see what I mean.

Total: 6

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Michael Crichton Wikipedia:

Wikipedia (Movie):


Agree / Disagree with my assessment? Leave a comment to let me know or submit your own scores for this or any other film listed in the leader board below to be aggregated into the upcoming ‘readers choice’ table on the main rating page…