Dull & Dour Death: A Review of ‘Maggie’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - May 10, 2015
Dull & Dour Death: A Review of ‘Maggie’

For a variety of different reasons, movies can get placed and then subsequently pulled from the schedule.  Maggie was set to make it’s bow at last year’s edition of the Toronto International Film Festival but it subsequently got bought and then pulled from the lineup for industry pundits and fans to see.  Until now that is and the results are that while the marketing for Maggie may try to play it up as a zombie movie, it is actually an overwrought piece of human drama that while clunky and expositional also shows the potential of something that could have been really quite good.

It’s the Midwest of America and it has never looked quite as the zombie outbreak that was ravaging the land seems to be in check.  Wade (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a quiet man, content to work his fields until he gets word that his daughter  Maggie (Abigail Breslin) who ran away at the beginning of the outbreak has now been found, and is infected.  It’s a slow moving virus but there is no cure and after the loss of his wife, Maggie is all she has left and is resolved to stay by her side for as long as he can.

I’ll warn you now, if you end up going to this expecting a traditional zombie movie, you will be disappointed.  Ultimately Maggie tries too hard to be an ‘important’ or ‘artistic’ endeavour and it ends up as clunky more than anything else, in spite of every one’s best efforts.

Maggie-1

Director Henry Hobson and his first time in the director’s chair isn’t without some moments as he has a good eye and manages to create drama out of a simple shot.  The story moves at a snail’s pace (granted for this kind of drama it is supposed to) but it doesn’t do itself any favor’s as the sparse and entirely weak moments of dialogue never genuinely resonate.  The entire narrative feels less like an exercise in storytelling and more as a showcase piece to show what Hobson and Schwarzenegger can do, and while Hobson tries to evoke moments of Terrance Malick with no effect, he and cinematographer Lukas Ettin did assemble a very stark and pretty film while Arnie dusts off his dramatic chops with some reasonable results.

Essentially playing the only kind of action hero that any normal person can only ever hope to aspire to be; a dad, Arnie is quite solid as his stoic emotion works quite perfectly in the part.  He’s a man trying to hold on to what little he has left in a world that is crumbling around him.  While the dialogue does neither Arnold or Abigail Breslin any favors, they both manage to get across a loving family who simply wants one more day together, they never know when their last days will be but they need to appreciate and come to peace with one another while they both have the chance.  Breslin carries that load pretty well and the chemistry on screen with Arnold as her day played well enough.  Other then Joely Richardson as Breslin’s aunt, there is no one of note in the ensemble that manages any moments to stand out.

While Maggie leans on the art house elements of this story a little too much, it is still kind of interesting to take in under the category of an admirable failure.  It aims high, trying to attain a high level of pedigree, but it never quite hits the mark making for a movie that is more dour then it wanted to be and far too dull to be as memorable as it thinks it is.

Maggie is playing exclusively at the Carlton here in downtown Toronto and is available Canada wide via iTunes and most VOD platforms.

This post was written by
David Voigt, has been a lover of cinema all his life and an actual underpaid critic for a solid 5 years covering everything that the city of Toronto has to offer. He was a content manager in video distribution industry before that and his love of all things cinema goes back to his first moments in awe looking up at the big screen. His 12 years of experience on the home entertainment side of the business have provided him with a unique view on what is worth spending your hard earned entertainment dollars on. Combine that with his unquestioned love of film, David should be your only stop to find out about the best in film, not only in Toronto, but worldwide.