Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin, Joely Richardson, Laura Cayouette, J.D. Evermore, Rachel Whitman Groves
Directed By: Henry Hobson
Written By: John Scott 3
Rating: PG-13 (US) Running Time: 1 hr 35 min
I’ll admit, I was really looking forward to this movie. A thoughtful Zombie drama taking a look at the choices a family might have to make when one of their own is infected. Starring one of Hollywood’s biggest superstar brand names, and the very talented Abigail Breslin. This had the potential to be either a complete train wreck, or an award-winning surprise leading to memorable images on our TV next year with Arnold’s smiling face next to all the other nominees.
And the Golden Globe* goes to…..
But I was wrong on both counts. Maggie was neither a disaster, nor a thought-provoking drama destined for greatness. It was stage four of the seven stages of grief (depression, reflection and loneliness), and newbie screenwriter John Scott 3** keeps the audience in this bleak pit throughout the entire film. Never properly exploiting the movie’s premise by letting his characters verbalize their feelings. Nor fully exploring the emotional impact this situation has on its main characters. Which in the case of this story, involves the impending death of a loved one, mandated by the state.
I am however, willing to concede the problems I had with the script, might not be entirely Mr. 3’s fault. Not everyone in the cast is able to deliver dialogue with the emotive punch this story requires. Which brings me to everyone’s favorite Austrian, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Arnold ‘I’ll be back’ Schwarzenegger is simply miscast in Maggie – it’s that simple. Sure, his brand name is going to generate some interest in this film, but at what cost? He’s a movie star, a great movie star, but certainly not capable of delivering the kind of performance this brand of gut-wrenching drama needs. Put him in a Zombie apocalypse actioner, and have him march around dispensing justice with a 12 gauge, and you’ve got yourself a movie worth buying popcorn for. But this? Not really his thing. No amount of extreme close-ups or showy artsy visuals are going to hide that fact either, Mr. first time director, Henry Hobson!
This story tackles some really weighty issues. The needs of the many versus the needs of the few, and the toll an infectious disease takes on families and communities. It’s just not developed enough. Abigail Breslin and Joely Richardson are given very little to work with, and Arnold can’t stop being the Arnold we know and love.
* Oscar? Seriously?
** Not the 3rd. Just 3 (check IMDB). The third in a trilogy of Scotts? Probably better than the sequel. But still nowhere near as good as the first installment. Ha!
If you’re hoping for vintage Arnold, then don’t bother with this film. There are no catchy one-liners, or crazy Zombie versus Mr. Universe moments here. This is a slow burner, rated PG-13 for language and some very mild Zombie related gore.
The visuals are decent, if a little distracting at times. A HD screening at home on your TV will service this film well enough.
Best Moment: << big spoiler!! >>
The best part of the movie comes near the end. Maggie (Abigail Breslin) has almost completely turned into a flesh-eating Zombie, and approaches her father Wade (Arnold) who is asleep in the living room. She gets in nice a close to wade’s face, and sniffs (we’re told earlier in the film regular people smell like meat to Zombies). The moment lingers for a nice amount of time, before Maggie gives her father a kiss on the forehead, and then calmly leaves the house.