Arnold Schwarzenegger and the zombie apocalypse in one movie. Sounds fantastic, right? Well, someone missed the point completely and the result is called Maggie. It’s not without its flaws, but it’s not playing to the big star’s strengths.
At 1.88m tall and being mostly made of chiseled-ness and muscle, Arnold Schwarzenegger is an imposing figure. Hand the man an automatic gun and some one-liners and you have a cinematic force of nature. The problem is, though, that like so many classic action heros, Arnold Schwarzenegger does not have the biggest range. Drama is not within his range. Badass and dry wit are.
Zombies Without Apocalypse
Maggie tells the story of a girl named Maggie Vogel (Abigail Breslin) who is infected with some kind of zombie virus. Her father Wade (Arnold Schwarzenegger) takes her in for she only has a few more weeks to live before she turns into a flesh-eating, cannibal creature. These last few weeks, she is to spend with her family on their farm.
Where there’s no apocalypse. Anywhere. No automatic weapons. No humour, dry or otherwise. This is not that kind of movie, but really should be. Because without any kind of dramatic high point, the movie dribbles along and lasts an emotional twelve hours.
Expectation vs. Reality
Maggie’s main problem is the gross miscasting of Arnold Schwarzenegger. The big man might not like it, but he’s been typecast. There’s no way he can be anyone but the big action hero, no matter how much he wants to. I can understand that he wants to try something else every now and then, but fans and others will always wait for him to mow down an entire army and takes on its leader in a brutal fistfight.
That is not to say that Maggie didn’t have any potential. In fact, it’s got a number of novel ideas in it. The phrase zombies without apocalypse sums it up nicely. It’s not about a group of survivors. In fact, in Maggie’s world, the outbreak seems to be under control and can be contained. Everyone knows what’s going on and knows the signs and doesn’t act like a complete idiot. Everyone knows that the infected are dangerous and that they need to be killed at some point. This is nice and refreshing. It could be exciting.
But expectations and reality clash so much that viewers can’t help but be at least somewhat disappointed when leaving the theatre.
The thing is, though, it’s not a bad movie. Thinking about it after a while, it’s a really well made, quiet movie that puts people in an impossible situation and holds a number of surprises.
What has to be said, that even though this role wasn’t made for Arnold Schwarzenegger and he’s been miscast as far as miscasting goes, he manages to out-act all the other people in the movie. Arnie is just larger than life. He’s a hero of cinema and – apparently – a really nice guy, frequently giving out fitness advice on social news aggregator Reddit that is nice, supportive and functional.
So even a bad movie does not take away from the cinematic titan that is Arnold Schwarzenegger and you can see him and Maggie at the Zurich Film Festival tonight at half past seven. If you’re lucky, there still might be tickets!