I have always been a fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s early movies. Especially the ‘Terminator’ and ‘Predator’, so it was interesting to able to watch, and review him in his latest movie, the zombie inspired ‘Maggie’.
On balance, ‘Maggie’ has a very gritty realism to it, and the plot is hard hitting and has a fascinating diversity to it. Also notwithstanding are the locations for the story – which capture the darkened isolation of a small town in the American Midwest.
‘Maggie’ is in the plague category of film, and the ‘plague epidemic factor’ has featured in previous movies, however, these have been more complicated, like Wolfgang Petersen’s 1995 disaster epic, ‘Outbreak’.
But ‘Maggie’ goes against the grain of the ‘Outbreak’ type movies – and hits the right end of the scale in regard to its story. The film has an indie-type feel to it, which is quite different to the big budget spectaculars that Arnold Schwarzenegger is usually identified with.
To my eye, there has been clever talent involved with this production because the plot is uncomplicated and tight, and keeps the action focused firmly on the Vogel family unit. The Screenwriter, John Scott 3, and Director, Henry Hobson, have crafted and manipulated the story in such a way that you are brought along without any complicated distractions – or becoming lost in a deluge of extra, and unnecessary diversions.
Schwarzenegger’s acting range is taken in a different and more sombre way in ‘Maggie’, and he excels in reflecting this with an outstanding performance. It’s probably the best acting effort that I have ever seen him give in his long career.
At one point in the film you witness Wade Vogel (Schwarzenegger), walking solemnly in front of a large burning prairie field, and this one scene of sweeping fires and burning smoke could represent the destruction that the zombie plague is doing without mercy to the unfortunate townsfolk in the surrounding State.
When Vogel’s daughter, Maggie, played excellently by the very talented (Abigail Breslin), cuts off her own finger in a desperate attempt to rid herself of the zombie disease, which is transforming her body and mind into some sort of flesh eating monster – it brings the shock factor into play – and the awful realization to us, of Maggie’s distress and fear.
Anyone who contracts this virus experiences, all to cruelly, its destructive symptoms. This is reinforced with grey lumps, skin discoloration, eye defects, and other unpleasant wounds that take hold of the body. And the deformed changes progress quickly. There is nothing that these poor souls can do to prevent them. Also, the most disturbing aspect apart from the bodily changes are the victims’ sense of smell, which turn from what is deemed normal human behaviour – into something animal, which is unsettling and disturbing.
Maggie’s step-mother, Caroline, (Joely Richardson) who is witnessing the events unfolding despairs at the situation and begs her husband, Wade Vogel (Schwarzenegger) to seek help. But he is stubborn and refuses to heed the advice. Maybe this is due to Wade’s heavy burden and guilt that he
feels about Maggie’s illness, and his fruitless attempts to contain it. In one scene his eyes are lost and have tears in them, his posture is sullen, and his mood almost seems rooted in a depressive pit.
So then enter Dr. Vern Kaplan, (Jodie Moore), he examines Maggie (Breslin), on Caroline’s (Richardson’s) request, but he, and the other doctors only have one final course of treatment to help Maggie, and that is to send her to the dreaded quarantine unit. Unfortunately, most of the infected people who are already there are in a worse state, and needless to say their hideous illnesses can’t be stopped or cured, and for this reason alone, Maggie’s father Wade, declines Dr. Kaplan’s offer.
Next we have encounters with various crazed zombies in the woods. These zombies were once friends of the Vogel family, however, they have now lost their human personalities and have taken to eating animals, or anyone else who comes into their gaze. And subsequently, we have a range of strange and haunting occurrences that surround the Vogel’s family home.
And so with this zombie-type plague’s march, and the authorities lack of ingenuity to combat its advance – this brings an added helplessness to events – and further bloodcurdling incidents that happen with all to gruesome effect.
This gruesome aspect is all to realised in a final heartbreaking scene, when Maggie understands there is one last act she must do to save herself, and her father, from meeting a dreadful fate.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is back in a big way with this movie, and I look forward to maybe watching him appearing in similar types of movies in the future. The budget for ‘Maggie’ was $4,500,000. And if you look back on previous big budget movies that Schwarzenegger is normally renowned for – they are not always superior to small budget ones.
The story, script, and other creative inputs make ‘Maggie’ punch above its weight in movie terms, and this has been achieved, without the necessity of throwing loads of money into the production.