“I’ll be dad”

SFX - - Rated -

Re­lease Date: 17 July

15 ( TBC) | TBC min­utes Di­rec­tor: Henry Hob­son Cast: Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger, Abi­gail Bres­lin, Joely Richard­son, Dou­glas M Grif­fin, JD Ever­more, Rachel Whit­man Groves

Mag­gie’s not the film that

springs to mind when you hear the words “Sch­warzeneg­ger” and “zom­bies”. There are no pithy one- lin­ers, no ex­plod­ing heads, and Arnie barely has to flex a bi­cep in anger. It’s a zom­bie movie that aims for the heart in­stead of aim­ing for the head.

It’s set sev­eral months af­ter an out­break of the Ne­croam­bu­list virus. Ev­ery half- de­cent zom­bie film re­quires a twist on the for­mat; in this case it’s how long it takes to “turn” – six to eight weeks. That tweak trans­forms zom­biedom into a metaphor for ter­mi­nal ill­ness, mak­ing Mag­gie a weepie about com­ing to terms with im­pend­ing loss.

Arnie plays Wade, fa­ther of Mag­gie ( Abi­gail Bres­lin), an in­fected teen whose time is tick­ing away. The role gives Ah­nold a chance to show his range, and he does a de­cent job of con­vey­ing kind- eyed con­cern; he’s never looked more grizzled, or more vul­ner­a­ble. The Aus­trian Oak isn’t im­mune to the lachry­mose at­mos­phere ei­ther, though since he never gets more than moist- eyed it’s dif­fi­cult to ban­ish the im­age of an act­ing coach rush­ing in be­tween takes bran­dish­ing half an onion.

While it’s un­der­stand­able that the script doesn’t give Arnie a great deal to say ( it al­ways tends to start go­ing wrong once he opens his mouth), it’s also a weak­ness. We’re sup­posed to be watch­ing a fa­ther and daugh­ter’s fi­nal days to­gether, but bar­ring one scene where the two dis­cuss Mag­gie’s late mother, they barely bond. Okay, you don’t ex­pect them to play swing­ball or go for milk­shakes, but you’d have thought they’d have a cou­ple more heart- to- hearts. And af­ter telling us re­peat­edly that Wade has a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to make – sur­ren­der Mag­gie to the hor­rors of a quar­an­tine cen­tre, or “make it quick” – ul­ti­mately the mat­ter’s taken out of his hands, which seems like some­thing of a cop- out.

Still, both the ap­proach and the in­ti­mate ru­ral set­ting are orig­i­nal for this genre, and it’s a very at­trac­tive film: ex­pect scenic shots of Peo­ple Be­ing Sad, ac­com­pa­nied by mourn­ful pi­ano. Those of a melan­cholic dis­po­si­tion will hap­pily sur­ren­der to Mag­gie’s mis­er­abilist em­brace. Ian Ber­ri­man Debu­tant di­rec­tor Henry Hob­son cre­ated the orig­i­nal ti­tle se­quence for The Walk­ing Dead.

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