The Girl with All the Gifts (2016) Review

The Girl with All the Gifts (2016) Review

Directed by: Colm McCarthy

Written by: Mike Carey

Starring: Sennia Nanua, Fisayo Akinade, Dominique Tipper

Rated: R

Run-Time: 1h 51 min

Genre: Action, Drama, Horror

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%

Availability: Netflix

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

Much like the previously reviewed Cargo, The Girl with All the Gifts is a unique zombie film that plays with the overdone sub-genre and creates something new. 

Based off a book of the same, The Girl with All the Gifts delivers a truly philosophical look on zombies with the addition of the second-generation zombie. Something rarely seen in related films. It takes the concept of a dystopian future, and rather as seeing it solely as the end this film depicts the end of the world as the start of a new era. It paints the character who would traditionally be the hero into the villain and forces the audience to sympathize with the “other.” 

None of this wouldn’t have been possible without the exceptional preforming of the cast, who do well to present realistic characters. The star of this film is film is Sennia Nanua, who as a young actor manages to make the traditionally horrifying zombie into a sympathetic creature. She manages to show both the humanity and inhumanity of zombies, making them into a new iteration of humanity. Her youth allows her to have an unbiased view of the situation before her, as she is fond of the humans caring for her but also wants to help her fellow second-generation zombie children. 

This film is beautiful and raises a lot of questions that may make you rethink what you would do in a zombie apocalypse. For those who enjoy the action of your standard zombie movie, this has that for you, but those who enjoy the more intellectual horror of the current renaissance will find this film an excellent and thought-provoking watch.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Cargo (2018) Review

Cargo (2018) Review

Directed by: Ben Howling, Yolanda Ramke

Written by: Yolanda Ramke

Starring: Simone Landers, Martin Freeman, Marlee Jane McPherson-Dobbins

Rated: TV-MA

Run-Time: 1h 45m

Genre: Drama, Horror, Science Fiction

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%

Availability: Netflix

After an epidemic spreads all over Australia, a father searches for someone willing to protect his daughter. (IMDb)

Cargo is a unique zombie film, one that breaks the monotony of the modern zombie flick by bringing something refreshing to the table. With a character-driven story, Cargo is less about the scares and more about how much you grow to care for the characters. Whenever they are faced with a challenge, which is definitely plentiful, we fear for the character’s lives but the deeper implications of their deaths. 

This movie, as mentioned above isn’t particularly scary in the traditional sense. You’re less scared of the zombie’s themselves and more scared of the events that would follow being bitten. This film manages to avoid the gory horror that is so prevalent in zombie films and settles for a low key storyline. 

The film also tackles a lot of important themes: such as the injustice towards the aboriginal people of Australia, and the process of death, illness and mourning. And while the film manages to have a happy ending, it’s more bittersweet than truly joyous. You’ll find yourself relieved, but also mourning. 

This is a film that is more accessible to a wider audience due to its character-driven storyline. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a “family-friendly” horror film, but its close. If you like horror but can’t really handle extensive gore and violence this film is a must-watch. For those who like those things, this movie should have enough to satiate your zombie craving.

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Crawl (2019) Review

Crawl (2019) Review

Directed by: Alexandra Aja

Written by: Michael Rusmussen, Shawn Rasmussen

Starring: Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper, Morfydd Clark

Rated: R

Run-Time: 1h 27m

Genre: Action, Drama, Horror

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%

Availability: Amazon Prime and Hulu

A young woman, while attempting to save her father during a category 5 hurricane, finds herself trapped in a flooding house and must fight for her life against alligators. (IMDb)

I generally don’t have much hope for movies like this. They tend to be formulaic, and easily predictable since the beats of this type of thriller are pretty much set in stone. This movie isn’t an exception in that it is pretty predictable. It tried to set itself apart, especially in the second act but fails to do so. 

Crawl doesn’t struggle to keep your attention but does struggle with reality. A lot of things that happened in this film were tough to believe whether you know a lot about alligators or not. This film does set itself apart in that it heavily features the protagonist potentially getting gravely injured. Of course, this starts to get a little old after the second time she miraculously gets away. The only character that was safe throughout the film was, of course, the dog. Because, if you didn’t already know, it’s a sin to kill a dog in any movie. Keanu Reeves will come after you. 

The acting was believable enough, but after watching the film I can’t tell you much about the characters other than the main girl can swim really well, her dad is stupid, and the dog’s name is Sugar. Even the few lines in the film that had me laughing have already left my mind. 

I feel like I say this about practically every movie I review, but this movie is one you can only watch once. If you want to watch a thrilling film that you don’t have to overthink while watching, this film is the right choice.  But I doubt you’d be clicking it again after experiencing it once. 

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Fahrenheit 451 (2018) Review

Fahrenheit 451 (2018) Review

Directed by: Ramin Bahrani

Written by: Ray Bradbury (source) Ramin Bahrani (screenplay)

Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Aaron Davis, Cindy Katz

Rated: TV-14

Run-Time: 1h 40m

Genre: Drama, Science-Fiction, Thriller

Rotten Tomatoes: 33%

Availability: HBO Max

In a terrifying care-free future, a young man, Guy Montag, whose job as a fireman is to burn all books, questions his actions after meeting a young woman– and begins to rebel against society. (IMDb)

Fahrenheit 451 is one of my favourite classics by my most favourite classic author. It has been adapted twice, the most recent being in 2018. This was the version I watched for this review, and for me, this adaption didn’t quite hit the mark. 

It’s evident Bahrani took creative liberty to modernize this story, that was originally written in the early tv-era, way before the advent of the internet. Bradbury was never a fan of the internet, or technology for that matter, so in that sense, this film stayed true to portraying it as a powerful and scary thing. This version takes focus away from television and shifts it social media– an understandable change for the modern audience. The writing we do see people reading in the film is heavily laced with acronyms and emojis, emulating the comment section of many a live video on Instagram and Facebook. 

In taking so many creative liberties, a lot of the story was changed. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, but in the case of this film, I feel it differs too greatly from the original tonally. It doesn’t hold the same weight as the book and is more of an aesthetic depiction of a dystopian future. 

One thing this film definitely did right was it’s casting. Michael Shannon is amazing as  Captain Beatty and Jordan’s performance is emotional. Together, they carry this movie farther than any of the other actors. They maintain the tone set in the film well and deliver believable performances. 

For viewers who are not familiar with this film’s source material, this film may be entertaining; but for those acquainted with Bradbury’s original may not enjoy it as much.

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Code 8 Review

Code 8 Review

Directed by: Jeff Chan 

Written by: Chris Pare, Jeff Chan

Starring: Karl Matchett, Robbie Amell, Penny Eizenga

Rated: NR

Run-Time: 1h 38m

Genre: Action, Drama

Rotten Tomatoes: 79%

Availability: Netflix

A super-powered construction worker falls in with a group of criminals in order to raise the fund to help his ill mother. (IMDb)

I’m a big fan of movies with superpowers, franchised and otherwise. Code 8 is one of those rare films that doesn’t belong to any big franchise; it also just so happens to be a film that was funded through Indiegogo. Code 8 definitely has the innate charm of a passion project, but could still stand to benefit with improvement in its writing.

The overall execution of this film is impressive. The effects are on par with films with a much larger budget, which is something you don’t often get to say. This shows the filmmakers really took care in how they allocated the money, as well as likely employing underused techniques that need not be forgotten. 

This fill can’t really boast much else. The most recognizable name featured in this film

Is Robbie Amell, and the plot is overdone and not well executed. The action is not well-paced and it’s easy to find yourself getting bored. Overall the film tends to have a general sense of being disjointed. The effects and mild mystery is enough to keep you interested in the film to the end, but like many films I’ve discussed before this is not necessarily a film you watch more than once. 

In the end, I was quite disappointed. The concept for this film is so good and could have been used in so many creative ways. There is some hope, with a series revival supposedly coming to Quibi. But, let’s be honest… who uses Quibi?

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Extinction (2018) Review

Extinction (2018) Review

Directed by: Ben Young

Written by: Spencer Cohen, Brad Kane

Starring: Michael Pena, Lizza Caplan, Amelia Crouch

Rated: TV-MA

Run-Time: 1h 35min

Genre: Action, Drama, Science Fiction

Rotten Tomatoes: 33%

Availability: Netflix

A father has a recurring dream of losing his family. His nightmare turns into reality when the planet is invaded by a force bent on destruction. Fighting for their lives, he comes to realize an unknown strength to keep them safe from harm. (IMDb)

This movie, at best, is hard to quantify for a number of reasons. 

At this point, I’ve seen this film twice. And both times I found myself struggling to maintain interest. This film has an exceptionally unique concept but falls short in execution. It doesn’t quite follow the beats of a proper thriller and takes a long time to gets where it wants to go. This film is definitely philosophical because it does not necessarily end with your common film resolution. It ends with a question: can people and AI live together in harmony?

The best part of this movie is the concept, followed by Pena’s performance. We are used to seeing Pena in comedic secondary roles, but with being at the forefront of this film we find that he has a great range of emotion. After a point, he might as well be carrying the whole film on his shoulders, as he makes lacklustre reveals have more weight than they would have with a bad performance. If anything, this film shows that Pena has the potential to take on more serious roles, as well as play more major roles in future films. 

In a way, I want to call this movie a hidden gem of Netflix, but at the same time, it doesn’t seem quite good enough to call it that. It’s a surprising film, but not one I’d willingly watch more than once.

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Hanna (2011) Review

Hanna (2011) Review

Directed by: Joe Wright

Written by: Seth Lochhead, David Farr

Starring: Saoirse Ronan Care Blanchett, Eric Bana

Rated: PG-13

Run-Time: 1h 51m

Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller

Rotten Tomatoes: 71%

Availability: HBO Max

A sixteen-year-old girl who was raised by her father to be the perfect assassin is dispatched on a mission across Europe, tracked by a ruthless intelligence agent and her operatives. (IMDb)

I recently became interested in rewatching Hanna after learning about the show. I’m quite tempted to watch– the show– but would feel wrong in doing so without first rewatching the original film. The film is very much how I remembered it. 

The film is very well faceted, especially by Saoirse Ronan, with an interesting story and well-choreographed action. At the time of its release, I feel it was much more original that it comes across as now, a sad downfall for many older films. If there is one thing to truly highlight in this film it would be Ronan’s performance. Ronan is one of the best things about this film, which is not surprising considering her current Hollywood status. I do believe Ms Ronan has what it takes to be the next Streep or Andrews. 

My main criticisms come from the fact the film hasn’t aged well, even for it barely being ten years old. The audio is very pre-2010 cinema and the film utilizes certain stylistic editing techniques long retired. 

If you haven’t seen the movie but are currently watching, or considering watching, the show please consider giving the film a chance. You won’t regret it.

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Boys Don’t Cry (1999) Review

Boys Don’t Cry (1999) Review

Directed by: Kimberly Peirce

Written by: Kimberly Peirce

Starring: Hilary Swank, Chloe Sevigny

Rated: R

Run-Time: 1h 58m

Genre: Biography, Drama

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%

A young man named Brandon Teena navigates love, life, and being transgender in rural Nebraska. (IMDb)

Boys Don’t Cry is one of those fantastic films that you can only watch once. It’s also one of those fantastic films, that while they are great, they don’t hold up to modern ideals and would likely suffer in the modern market for one reason or another.

Hilary Swank plays a transgender man trying to live his life in Nebraska. Swank really shines in this role, portraying the struggle a struggle to fit in as well as real terror in the horribly true* events that unfold. Her dedication to the character only elevating the film. If the film were released today, I’m not entirely sure Swank could have maintained her role as Teena, being a cis-gendered woman. But when taking into the consideration the events of this film and the story of its production– and my self being cis-gendered– I do not feel it is my place to discuss the representation in this film at length. All I feel comfortable saying that the presentation of a transgendered individual and the depiction of their often horrific struggles this film may have been ahead of its time; and puts forth the violent and heartwrenching truth that still burdens us today. 

For many, this film may be an impossible watch. Its thrusts it’s viewers into the harsh reality of this world and how it treats members of the LBGT+ community. You know something is going to go horribly wrong, foreshadowing shown in things as simple as the lighting. 

I’m hesitant to recommend this film even though I’ve described it as “fantastic” and “great.” As I said, for some this movie will be impossible to sit all the way through; for others, it will be a hard ride. It truly is one of those films you watch once, and it stays with you forever. If you decided to watch this film do so at your own discretion, as trigger warning include, violence, a depiction of sexual assault, and death. 

The violence depicted in Boys Don’t Cry continues today, and the only way to stop it is through action. I have provided likes below for three organizations that work to provide protection and support for the transgender community. Additionally, I have included an article discussing violence against the transgender and gender non-conforming community, which includes names of victims of said violence. Shall we mourn the loss of these individuals, educate ourselves on their struggles, and work to end this violence. 

National Center for Transgender Equality

Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF)

Trans Lifeline

Violence Against the Transgender and the Gender Non-Conforming Community in 2020 (article)

*There is debate regarding the accuracy of the film in relation to real-life events. Regardless, the events depicted are very much real possibilities many face on a daily basis.

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Due Date (2010) Review

Due Date (2010) Review

Directed by: Todd Phillips

Starring: Robert Downey Jr. Zach Galifianakis, Michelle Monaghan 

Rated: R

Run-Time: 1h 35m

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Rotten Tomatoes: 40%

High-strung father-to-be Peter Highman is forced to hitch a ride with aspiring actor Ethan Tremblay on a road trip in order to make it to his child’s birth on time. (IMDb)

Why did I watch this movie? What compelled me to sit through this?

Can you tell what I think about this movie yet? Yeah, I didn’t like it.

I think what got me to watch was the movie was the star power of Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis, but no amount of star power can help this horribly derivative wannabe comedy. I can’t think of any part of this film that I actually enjoyed, actually, I was thoroughly annoyed the majority of the time. 

The premise has been done to death and honestly doesn’t need to be done for a long time. What made is so annoying is how insufferable Zach Galifianakis’s character is throughout the film. While he tends to play the lovable oaf type there was nothing loveable about this oaf. If I was RDJ’s character I would have left him on the side of the road as soon as I had the chance with no remorse whatsoever. As a result, I couldn’t take RDJ’s protagonist seriously after he put with literal hell and came out friends with Galifianakis’s character. It seemed like this was an attempt to make him out as a good guy and Galifianakis’s character as endearing, and neither of those characters qualifies for those descriptors. Galifianakis was unbearably un-funny and RDJ’s character was just a plain idiot for putting up with him. 

 The scenes in the film that were added with the intent of being funny were far from it. Some of which were downright disgusting and entirely humourless. The scenes that had a chance at being funny went on too long, effectively ruining the scene. So many times I found myself so annoyed that I wanted to just stop watching the film altogether. If there was something more original about the film, maybe I wouldn’t be as bad, but there was nothing new this film brought to the table.

Don’t watch this film. Just don’t waste your time. I wish I didn’t.

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In the Shadow of the Moon (2019) Review

Directed by Jim Mickle

Written by Gregory Weidman, Geoff Tock

Starring: Boyd Holbrook, Cleopatra Coleman, Micheal C. Hall

Rating: TV-MA

Run-Time: 1h 55m

Genre: Drama, Thriller, Science Fiction

Rotten Tomatoes: 59%

Currently streaming on Netflix.

He’s tracked her for decades. Every nine years, she kills again. His obsession could destroy him– and everything he loves. (Netflix)

If the title doesn’t draw you in, then Netflix’s thumbnail will. The description doesn’t do it justice. At least, it doesn’t do the concept justice; because not even the film managed to do that. 

For the most part the film isn’t bad. The only issue with it is that it’s not well paced, at all.  The film begins on a high note, introducing use to the stakes of the film. It’s pleasantly paced, but this doesn’t last very long. It doesn’t seem like the editing team knew what they were trying to do most of the time because the film can’t seem to make up its mind whether it wants to be a quick action-flick or a satisfying slow-burn sort of story. This wouldn’t be as much of an issue if it weren’t for the fact it makes it unnecessarily hard to maintain focus when watching the film and detracts from it’s most important scenes, including the big reveal. 

The concept of the film, when you ignore the execution, is extremely interesting and promising. With that said, it is also a bit of a headache, but in a good way. It’s one of those films that you have to think while watching, and a background understanding of topics tackled is definitely helpful.

In the end, I’m not sure if I can say I recommend this film or not. Maybe if you have nothing else to watch? Or if you’re a hardcore sci-fi fan? Whether you decide to watch it or not I think it’s over agreeable that this is a one-time watch deal.

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