The Girl With All The Gifts (2016)

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SurvivorsSennia Nanua (Melanie); Gemma Arterton (Helen Justineau); Glenn Close (Dr. Caroline Caldwell); Paddy Considine (Sgt. Eddie Parks); Fisayo Akinade (Kieran Gallagher)

SPOILERS

After a fungal based plague plunges the human race into a dystopian world ravaged by rage like zombies (hungrys as they are called in the book and movie), a group of soldiers, doctors and a teacher whole up in a somewhat secure base where they are housing not only themselves but also a group of school age children who are more deadly then they appear. The children were born or emerged after their mothers were infected with the fungus making them hybrids. They are completely normal children but will go all chompy if they smell any sort of human scent. The survivors use a blocker to keep them from smelling delicious to the savage little beasts. Something goes horribly wrong and the base is overrun by the hungrys and what’s left of the humans scatter.

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The movie centres on one of the children Melanie, an intelligent and inquisitive hungry who has become attached to Helen Justineau, the children’s teacher. Justineau knows the children aren’t just kids in her class but the line between innocent and monster becomes blurred as she in turn becomes attached to Melanie. By far Justineau is the only one on the base who seems to have some compassion for the kids. On the side of only seeing the kids as monsters and specimens is Sgt. Parks, the hardened military man and Dr. Caldwell the butcher who is trying to find a cure and will dissect the children to get. This makes up the main players and they must try to find help out in the world that is ravaged by hungrys, fighting the monsters and each other.

I read the book and liked it. I watch the movie and also liked it but as is common with movies made from books there seems to be holes in the story. That comes from someone who has read the book and notices things missing and it seems like things are unexplained. I could be wrong and that didn’t change my enjoyment of the flick. The casting was good, not how I pictured the characters but great acting by all and since Mike Carey wrote the screenplay from the book he wrote, it was well done. The hungrys were gross and the premise of a fungal zombie infection reminded me of The Last of Us.

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Final Thoughts: I enjoyed this movie even with the condensed story line which led to a fast paced flick and kept the story from dragging. The relationships among the characters were straight forward and not weighed down by too much drama. While Melanie is the focus of the movie it felt like she was missing something whereas in the book she is much more developed character. But the best part was the end. I’m sucker for a hopeless ending. Well, hopeless for some but a new beginning for others. 3.5 children out of 5.

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Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (Book review)

Station Eleven

It’s twenty years after the world has been ravaged and destroyed by a deadly flu that wiped out a majority of Earth’s population, leaving it in ruins. Technology is gone, vehicles are useless husks littering the overgrown roadways and living is a daily struggle. I love a good dystopian, post apocalyptic tale whether it contains zombies, vampires, humans monsters, clickers – it’s all good and that is the genre that I am into now hence reading Crossed graphic novels, Bird Box, this book and I will starting The Girl With All The Gifts soon.

Station Eleven is a combination of before and after a global pandemic throws the world into a dystopian wasteland and told through the lives of a group of people who are knowingly and unknowingly connected by an actor who dies at the start of the outbreak, Arthur Leander. Kirsten seems to kind of be the lead but the story is told through several perspectives. I started reading this book and it was ok but near the beginning when The Symphony is being introduced (this is a band of performers who play instruments and perform Shakespeare) there are a couple of paragraphs that are just rambling run-on sentences.  No coherence just babbling. It was almost enough to make me put the book down. But I didn’t and that sort of bad writing didn’t come up again.  Maybe I was just tired and didn’t read that right but it was very poorly done.

All in all the book was ok after the first 50 or so pages. I was more interested in how the characters dealt with the plague and the recent aftermath than reading about their lives 5, 10 or 20 years before the plague. I understand it’s to develop the characters and show the tie ins to each other but some of it was unnecessarily long and could have been shortened. I didn’t like multiple chapters telling the story of Arthur and his first wife and how Station Eleven was created. It was necessary to tell where Station Eleven came from but it could have been condensed without losing anything. And I think I failed to see the need for the part where Arthur’s pen-pal V publishes his letters to her. Not sure what that brought to the story.

Final Thoughts:  I read reviews of this book on Goodreads and was expecting something more but it kind of fell flat for me. The story jumps to before and after with minimal glimpses of during the outbreak and what they needed to do to survive over the years. Glimpses like the knife tattoos on Kirsten wrist are just a couple of quick paragraphs. I think this would have been more interesting (to me) if the story had more focus on a couple of characters and their journey over the 20 years from outbreak to the current timeline. The writing was good, for the most part, but the book left me wanting more. I rated this one a 3/5 because it’s not bad, I liked parts of it but when the big confrontations occur it’s so brief and kind of a let down.

Stylized D

 

Open Grave (2013)

Open Grave

The Gist

Killers or VictimsSharlto Copley (Jonah); Thomas Kretschmann (Lukas); Josie Ho (Brown Eyes); Joseph Morgan (Nathan); Erin Richards (Sharon); Max Wrottesley (Michael)

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My Take:  I was excited to see this flick after viewing the trailer back in January and finally, finally I was able to watch it and made it a sort of family movie night with my husband and daughter (it’s ok, she’s 20).  Watching the trailer it gives the impression that this movie is going down the road of crazy killer trapping people and somehow erasing their memories before killing them and begs the question, which one is the killer (there’s a lot of kill, kill, kill in that sentence).  And the story certainly continues to leave the audience to wonder that while minor clues about the characters start to come forth through their exploration of a seemingly deserted forested area and the flashbacks the people start to have.  But there’s something more going on here and as we watch the mental deterioration of Lukas, it starts to look more involved than just a lunatic playing sick games with human lives.

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The characters don’t know themselves or each and adding to the complications of not knowing or trusting one another is that there is one of them who seems to know what is happening but she is mute and can only write in Chinese (I think?)  So the only one who can explain things can’t communicate with any of them.  As the group begins to explore the outlying areas from the house where they are holed up and the open grave where Jonah is found at the beginning, more strange shit crops up leading further down the route of one of them being a psycho.  In the woods there are dead bodies strapped to trees with barbed wire and they find a man (pictured above) half-naked and tangled in barbed wire but he is not incapable of movement as he stabs one of the amnesiacs with a branch.  Add to this the woman they find chained and living in filth in a shack and the discovery of some sort of building with a kid who runs away and later some totally messed up people doing some weird shit and your kind of going, huh?

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When the truth came out it was not what I was expecting.  A plague has ravaged the earth (presumably) and Jonah and the others are working on a cure to the disease that I guess makes people zombies or something like the people in 28 Days later  but they aren’t totally inhuman as they like chopping wood or something.  It’s unclear what exactly the virus has done to people but it’s bad and they seem to like killing non-infected. I’m not sure about the virus but it was unexpected, at least to me.  The reason they can’t remember anything is because they have injected the cure or vaccine or whatever that will prevent them from, for a time, becoming one of the infected.

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Final Thoughts:  So the twist and reveal did surprise me and the movie did quite well keeping me guessing where it was going with memories of being experimented on and the bodies popping up here and there.  I liked the perspective of the characters not knowing what the hell is happening and not trusting each other because they can’t remember anything.  The weak spots were some of the interactions between the characters particularly Jonah and Sharon.  The sequences felt awkward and wrong and there is one scene where they kiss remembering that they are a couple but not really.  The relationship just didn’t work.  Which may be part of what brought down the flick. While it is interesting to watch this group interact without knowing who they are or what their relationships are, these interactions for the most part were weak.  The story is interesting, the twist is good but the characters were lacking and I didn’t real care about their pasts or fates.  I have a soft spot for Joseph Morgan (Klaus from The Originals) but he didn’t thrill me in this flick. All in all, this had promise but fell short with characters that couldn’t hold the story through to the end.

Stylized D

The Returned (2013 Movie)

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The Gist

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6h5vtY5qZU

Zombies & NormsEmily Hampshire (Kate); Kris Holden-Ried (Alex); Shawn Doyle (Jacob); Claudia Bassols (Amber); Melina Matthews (Eve); Barry Flatman (Hospital Chief)

My Take:  Ok, so I may have confused this movie with the French TV series of the same name, which I have started to watch and that did make for a confusing conversation with a co-worker since we were talking about 2 different things. Anyway, this movie takes place several years following a zombie outbreak and after, not a cure but a suppressant type of drug has been created.  It keeps the zombie inside the infected subdued or in torpor.  It’s the perfect solution except the drug is running low and there are insurgents that want to kill the Returned because they can be dangerous especially if they miss taking their dose. So it’s like zombie rehab or thinking about it now, it’s quite similar to the brilliant BBC series ‘In The Flesh’ even down to the groups that will not suffer a zombie to live.  One of different thing is that in this flick the people need to be dosed before they completely turn into flesh-eating zombies.

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The acting is fine, however for some reason I didn’t care for the performance by Kris Holden-Reid (Dyson from Lost Girl).  The overall story seemed a little a flat with a couple of moments that felt like it was going to pick up and become intriguing but it didn’t and remained mediocre.  There were only a couple of scenes with full-blown zombies which looked really good but they were few and far between.

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Final Thoughts:  This movie was simply ok and didn’t really leave much of an impression other than it reminded me of ‘In the Flesh’ and it fell far below that series in storytelling, acting and overall engagement and interest in the characters following a zombie apocalypse and how the world tries to return to some semblance of the normality lost during the devastation.  For this flick, I saw give it a pass (you won’t be missing much) and go watch the first 2 seasons of ‘In the Flesh’.

Stylized D