Saturday, 15 August 2015

Maggie (US/CH, 2015)

Well its a pretty safe bet that many of you may have missed this Arnie comeback flick, or maybe you heard of it but it completely fell away and was never seen or heard of again. This is because it had a limited theatrical release, why you might ask? well probably because its not really much of a typical huge Arnie blockbuster that many will clamber to see. Yes its a zombie infestation movie, but its a level-headed, sensible, emotional, drama based zombie infestation movie. At no point will you see anyone flying through the air with two machine guns, nailing hordes of flesh eaters, or using amazing martial arts techniques...errr etc...All you need is your hanky, I suppose.

The plot centres on a small family in rural America, not sure where, they may have said but I missed it...meh. Arnie (Wade), his second wife and his daughter all live together here on a farm near a major city (dunno which city). At the start the daughter (Maggie) is trapped within the city (dunno why she was there) and ends up getting bitten by a zombie (a diseased person), we only see this in flashbacks. She is captured by armed officials and placed into quarantine. Wade is allowed to take Maggie home (God knows why) but is told she will slowly succumb to the virus and at a certain point they will come back for her and take her away for good. Basically put back into quarantine where they pretty much put the infected down like animals. From here on we simply follow Wade and his daughter Maggie during the last few weeks of her life as she slowly becomes a zombie, role credits.

The zombie element in this movie is a virus, so not very original but hey can you think up anything original for a zombie outbreak? The virus is called the Necroambulist virus and it affects the entire globe, but most unaffected people are able to carry on as normal with their lives. The virus basically plays out like a very nasty disease which threatens everyone, but is controlled well by the various governments with quarantine procedures and contamination control. We don't really find out where this virus came from or what it actually does other than just turn people slowly into zombies that eat other people. The victims look as you would expect of course, pale skin, black rotting infected skin, pale colourless eyes, a slow stumbling walking pace and the odd grunt or groan. They appear to be easy to kill like a regular living person and because  they don't move very fast. We never find out if there are any variations of the virus or if it affects different people in different ways, does it affect any animals? how many are affected globally? etc...It a pretty self contained story which doesn't venture too far outside of what you see.

The main selling point of this movie is the relationship between Arnie and his daughter. Naturally Wade cares about his daughter a great deal and is having a seriously hard time dealing with the situation. His daughter is basically rotting to death before his eyes. He gets support from his second wife but she eventually runs off, afraid of Maggie as her condition advances. The entire movie focuses on this and its incredibly depressing I must say, depressing and really quite dull. The visuals are sharp but they don't help at all, everything is grey, bleak and eerie, a real sense of looming death
in every scene. Yes that does create the perfect atmosphere but Holy shit its gloomy!

Things happen, predictable things such as Maggie meeting up with her friends one last time, she falls for another infected boy, they kiss, he eventually gets dragged away by nasty officials. Maggie accidentally injures her finger which shows us how far the infection has spread because she bleeds black goo, she then has a panic attack, understandable I guess. Wade and Maggie bump into a couple zombies in the woods who used to be their neighbours, Wade has to put them down. This is here obviously so we the audience can see what a fully transformed zombie looks like...nothing special. Oh one of the zombies was a young girl so that causes yet more angst and tears. And of course we get the fully obligatory scene where the local police try to take Maggie away...over Arnie's dead body!! No there is no ass-kicking by Arnie, its just a regular messy scrap which ends very quickly.

To be honest for the whole time I just kept wondering why Arnie doesn't just finish the job himself and stop his daughters suffering. I know that would be a very hard thing to do, but come on! she's turning into the living dead right before your eyes mate! If he doesn't then the nasty officials will do it in a nasty efficient way. It also makes no sense why Maggie would have been allowed to go home with Wade in the first place, she's infected, why allow her to roam around until she gets even worse, when she might attack someone. Lastly the ending for Maggie seems odd to me, I just don't think what she does would be an effective way of doing it, you'll see what I mean. Surely you'd need to be higher up? the house isn't that big is it? never noticed it to be.

On the whole the film is damn boring and hardly interesting I have to say. Yes the acting is solid, and more importantly Arnie gives us his best performance...errmm...ever! I think. He looks great with his old man beard and lumberjack-esque attire, his delivery of a father desperately trying to savour the last few days of his daughters life is admirable, reserved, grounded, effective and surprisingly moving. You'd never expect to see Arnie cry real man tears and actually show he can be a normal, everyday, regular Joe type who doesn't rip peoples arms off. The man is stripped of everything he usually relies on, he is essentially naked here, no guns, no muscles, no quips, no taglines, no explosions, no makeup...nothing. We finally see Arnold Schwarzenegger the real actor, the real man, the raw unearthed talent...well lets not go too far, he's carries himself very well considering what we all know. I'd like to see Arnie actually use his German language skills in a movie at some point, I think that would work extremely well.

Anyway I still cannot look away from the fact this film is very boring and very dreary. Yes I realise a zombie would be like that but most zombie films have daft action to lift things, this is a full on talkie drama...with the odd stumbling zombie in it. I have to admit I found myself drifting throughout the run time, this might also explain why I may have missed bits of info which I've already mentioned (if I did miss any). It is a solid movie for performances but everybody has ignored the cast and focused on Arnie for obvious reasons. At the same time, I kinda get the impression that is the only reason why this movie exists, to give Arnie a chance to act properly for the first time. This does pay off for sure, but unfortunately the film is so bloody boring, uneventful, unexplained and completely unoriginal (come on...zombies again! really?), that it does kinda fail. The films title is pretty crap too frankly.


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