“I’ll be dad”
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.