Director: Henry Hobson
Cast: Arnold Schwarznegger, Abigail Breslin
Here’s a zombie movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger which immediately makes you think you’re going to see Arnold kicking all sorts of zombie ass and what have you, but be advised, that is not the type of movie you will get. Maggie is a more somber affair. I wasn’t expecting a big zombie action extravaganza because I’d read some reviews and seen the trailers, so I was expecting exactly what I got, an artsy-fartsy take on the zombie genre, which is fine with me because I’m a zombie nut and I appreciate new and different takes on the zombie genre. The thing is that movie goers in search of serious, dramatic performances don’t exactly flock to see zombie movies, and those who love zombie movies, don’t want to see over dramatic anything, they want their gore, they want their zombie mayhem. So, did this film reach a happy medium? Or will zombie lovers end up being disappointed?
The story for Maggie is quite simple. A virus is spreading across the land and its turning people into zombies. The government has issued a quarantine; anyone who’s infected is to be taken away to these concentration camps, where they will be treated for their infection. One of these infected is Maggie, daughter to Wade Vogel, also known as Arnold Schwarzenegger. So Arnies daughter is infected and now he’s got to protect her from the government who wants to take her away to their concentration camps. What to do? Wait until she turns then kill her? Hand her over to the government? Let her live her life as a zombie?
There’s one thing I enjoyed about Maggie and it was that feeling of dread. You get the feeling that society is crumbling, falling apart. Everything is slightly dilapidated, but not full blown post apocalyptic. It’s all very grey, very dreary looking as if it’s always about to rain. I appreciate films that can sustain this tone all throughout and Maggie does that very well. The film is absolutely depressing all the way through, you can expect something along the lines of The Road (2009), where there’s not a happy moment in sight. In Maggie characters don’t smile, they don’t kid around, everybody looks and talks as if they‘re just about to slit their wrists out of depression. So when you see this just remember that it’s a heavy shot of seriousness all the way through. Unfortunately, it also reminded of Stake Land (2010), a boring film within its genre.
While I can’t bring myself to call Maggie a bad film; I do have to say that it was rather uneventful. Not much happens that we haven’t seen in other zombie films and this is primarily where Maggie fails. It goes step by step through every zombie cliché in the book, only in a really slow, boring way. So you know how this movie goes: somebody you know gets infected; it isn’t easy to accept that your loved one is turning. What will you do when they transform? Will you shoot your loved one in the head? Will you have the strengths to shoot their brains out? And that about as far as the themes for Maggie go. So in this sense it’s a very predictable film and therefore boring because it stretches this simple plot all the way through to the end, no complications, no twists…you’re basically waiting to see what’s going to happen when Maggie finally turns full blown zombie. So while the film might look beautiful, because it does, it’s very well shot, it disappoints because it doesn’t deliver. It doesn’t try to cover new ground. It’s simply going over themes and situations we’ve seen played out many times before in a million other zombie movies and not in a very interesting way.
Arnold and Abigail do turn in good performances, but don’t be expecting Arnold to cry you a river. This is basically Arnold being Arnold, he’s just saying every line very seriously that’s all. I thought maybe the director might try and make Arnold display a bit more emotion, but the film wasted the opportunity to make Arnold stretch his acting skills. I think the reason why this movie is so banal is that it’s director doesn’t have much experience in filmmaking, I mean, were talking about a director whose only other directorial efforts include the trailers and opening sequences for various video games. Oh and he’s also directed the Oscars a few times? If you’re a true blue filmmaker, then you should be able to pull off a good movie no matter what, blamo, you’re dying to make a movie and here’s your chance bro! So you go and make this boring zombie movie? The biggest problem here is these filmmakers have chosen the wrong genre in which to make their break out film.
If Mr. Henry Hobson wanted to make an artsy fartsy movie, he shouldn’t have chosen the zombie genre cause who the hell wants’ to be bored to death when watching a zombie movie? Nobody that’s who. You have to know your genre, you have to know your target audience. At the very least, as a filmmaker, Mr. Hobson and crew should have attempted a way in which to balance out the dramatic elements with the horror elements, because as it is, both sides are disappointed here. Zombie fans will be disappointed because for one, you don’t see a hell of a lot of zombies. And the ones you see aren’t rotting decomposing corpses, they are the kind that have little black veins painted on their pale skins…you know, not really rotting corpses. Also, to my great disdain, the gore is kept off camera and to a minimum, which sucks for a zombie movie. So what we got here ladies and gentlemen is a zombie movie with an emphasis on the drama, but even in that department it disappoints because it doesn’t offer up enough complexities or depth, it’s too simple a movie. Maggie needed a little more of what zombies are always asking for “brains”.
Rating: 3 out of 5