In Review: Maggie

by Daniel Goodwin on 23/07/2015

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Throwing zombies into a Schwarzenegger film may conjure up images of bloody battlefields strewn with bullet shells and carcasses while cheap quips are spat through clouds of thick cigar smoke. But anyone approaching Arnie’s latest expecting that kind of generic zombie/ action flick may be disappointed, for Maggie is far from the conventional Romero calibre or the type of 80s foray that made Schwarzenegger famous. Maggie is more of a drama about a family coming to terms with illness and the bond between a father (Schwarzenegger) and daughter (Abigail Breslin) in the run up to her demise, her slow entry into a dark, monstrous world.

Schwarzenegger has always had a magnificent, domineering screen presence, even when in subtle, reflective mode. Here he plays widowed farmer Wade, struggling to keep his infected daughter from a gang of lawmen determined to move her to a safety zone where the infected are dealt with accordingly. As a long-time resident, Wade is given leeway and the chance to end his daughter’s life in his own time while getting as much quality time in as possible. But Maggie’s evolving corpse-like characteristics and violent outbursts soon threaten their once peaceful family home.

Maggie is a bleak and harrowing drama about family hardship with the almost undead. First time Director Henry Hobson expertly melds zombie subgenre trends without allowing them to override the narrative or haunting visuals. While the slight and sombre plot slows the pace somewhat in the first half, making Maggie feel more like a tightly focused character study, the well-conjured atmosphere and skilful editing compensate for the lack of gruelling tension, horror and action normally associated with Arnie flicks and zombie subgenre.

Maggie sometimes reeks of the disease themed movie-of-the-week but with great directing, stunning cinematography and the not unwelcome walking dead element. Limited locations and sparse landscapes highlight the minimal budget but the overriding Schwarzenegger presence bolsters Maggie into becoming a film fitting to the cinematic medium. The story crawls to a cumbersome pace but a decent performance from Abigail Breslin as Maggie is compelling enough to maintain attention for the majority. Unfortunately, Maggie (the film) is not quite the overdue career resuscitator Arnie might have hoped for but it’s a heck of a lot better than Terminator Genisys.

Daniel has awarded Maggie three Torches of Truth

three torches

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