HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:76
Good old Arnie has made quite the name for himself over the last 40ish years as an action star and even as quite the comedian at times, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him in a true drama. I was heavily intrigued by news that Arnold was going to be involved in an indie zombie movie when I heard the reports a couple years ago. I mean, who doesn’t want to see Arnie run around with a rifle and blow off zombie heads? Once the trailers started coming out it became clear that this wasn’t going to be your traditional zombie movie, but the trailers themselves still didn’t prepare me for what the movie was really about. Leave all your expectations at the door as Arnold has decided to make a movie unlike any he has seen before, and while it isn’t a masterpiece, it is a solid film that explores the depths of a parent’s love and sometimes selfish desires that they suffer from in an effort to protect a child, even if that effort is known to be futile from the beginning.
The film opens with Wade Vogel (Arnold) visiting a hospital to pick up his daughter, Maggie (Abigail Breslin). She’s been infected with a virus and needs to be under quarantine, but due to Wade’s connection with the local Dr., he is allowed to take her home for a few weeks before the inevitable happens. We aren’t told right away what she’s suffering from, but the audience knows what it is due to the back of the box giving it away. There has been a worldwide epidemic of a virus that slowly turns living humans into undead zombies and Maggie has been recently bit by one of them. Wade takes her home, against the wishes of everyone else around him, including his sister Caroline (Joely Richardson).
Maggie isn’t the only one struggling with her condition. While she is slowly coming to grips with the fact that she isn’t going to be alive much longer, her father is dying inside with the knowledge that he either has to kill his baby girl at some point or send her back to the city quarantine where she will die by some form of chemical compound the officials have cooked up. Maggie and Wade both deal with their pain in different ways, with Maggie just being a teenage girl who’s in shock, while Wade desperately hangs onto his daughter, even though she’s worsening at a rate an unexpected rate. His over protectiveness may very well may be his own demise, for as Maggie worsens, she comes closer and closer to becoming a mindless eating machine that very well may turn on the man that’s protecting her.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=48386[/img]I will be the first to say that “Maggie” is a very different movie that I expected, even after changing my expectations after seeing the official trailer. It differs greatly from our standard interpretation of the zombie genre, and instead of relying on blood, gore and gun battles to move the plot along, it changes the pace by making it a family drama. Maggie and Wade are the main characters, and really its their tale as the two have to come to grips with the pain and tragedy that has befallen their lives. We get to see a few walkers around the film, but 95% of the time this is a tale of what happens to a family when a terminal illness strikes. It’s just in this case an illness that turns loved ones into flesh munching machines.
“Maggie” is an indie film through and through, and most certainly a passion project for Arnold. He’s wanted very much to strike out from his normal cliché as an action hero or a comic actor and step into more dramatic roles. He does so quite well, showing that he’s got some decent range on him when he really tries. The pain and suffering in his eyes is visible to the audience and even though he doesn’t say a lot, it actually suits the character of Wade quite well. Even though the top billing goes to Arnold, Abigail Breslin gets the most screen time and really is the most important character. She’s a solitary character, alone in her pain and suffering, as even her own father can’t relate to the pain of dying this way. The movie itself seems to mirror that with the its filming style, giving way to lots of close ups and wide angle shots that show a character standing out in the middle of nowhere, and island unto themselves in a world that is becoming less and less connected. The bleak look to the picture is drained of color and feels as grim and hopeless as the situation is, making it very easy to see just how depressing the situation is for the main characters.
The movie isn’t perfect, as there are some pacing issues, and some definite issues with the script. A little too much is left to hints and innuendos in regards to the back story. So that at the end you go back and wonder just where some of those side plots were going as they just trail off into nowhere. Being a slice of life character drama, the pace is a bit on the slow side and just tags along as the characters live their life. The end result of the film is already known from the first few minutes of the film, but in this case it’s all about journey. Unfortunately the journey isn’t 100% smooth as the script issues and almost too slow of a pace keep the movie from being REALLY good.
Rated PG-13 for disturbing thematic material including bloody images, and some language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=48362[/img]The 2.40:1 scope image is about as bleak and grey as the story it’s trying to portray. The film is heavily desaturated, with a mostly grey with blue tinged color palate, which ends up being a rather flat looking movie. There are instances of bright color in a few scenes to represent hope and happiness in the grim setting. The daisies that Wade planted, or the happy memories of a childhood long ago are all seen with that grey color grading lifted and whites pushed to a hot texture. Blacks are usually very satisfactory, but the bleak grey look to the film does rob them of some shadow detail and sometimes they can look a bit washed out. Fine detail is very solid, but not overly detailed, as the movie tends to be a bit glossy and smooth. I didn’t see any compression artifacts besides some of the ever famous banding in some really dark scenes and the disc itself seems to have plenty of room to breathe with only a 95 minute runtime.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=48370[/img]The single 5.1 DTS-HD MA track present on the Blu-ray disc is about on par with the video quality. Being that it’s not exactly an action track, the resulting soundstage is heavily centered on the front three speakers, leaving the surrounds to fill in just some of the ambient noises. The dialog is the focus of the movie and the vocals are crisp and clear without any distortions or balance issue. The dynamic range is pretty soft, although there are a few times where a weighty gunshot rings out, or a scream startled me which shows the track has some get up and go. Surrounds are used mildly, with ambient forest noises or the creaking of footsteps in the lonely farmhouse to fill in those back channels. LFE is also rather mild, but still effective as it softly walks along till a startling moment and then BANG!, a deep shockwave pops up and then just as quickly disappears. The 5.1 experience is very fitting of a drama of this ilk, and does quite well with the job that’s required of it. Solid B+ from Lionsgate.
• Director's Commentary
• Making "Maggie" Featurette
• Deleted Scene
• Cast/Crew Interviews
“Maggie” isn’t as nuanced and impactful as Arnold and director Henry Hobson were obviously going for, but the grim and gritty father/daughter drama is still a very impressive movie. It’s great to see Arnold stepping out and taking risks with his acting career, and I certainly hope to see more of him in this type of role as time goes by. The audio and video presentations were excellent considering the low key budget and dramatic style, and there are some good extras on the disc to sweeten the pot. If you’re an Arnold fan and are expecting a balls to the walls action movie than you will definitely have to change your expectations, but if you want to see Arnie stretch himself in a very character driven story than I would definitely check it out.
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin, Joely Richardson
Directed by: Henry Hobson
Written by: John Scott
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 95 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: July 7th 2015
Buy Maggie On Blu-ray at Amazon
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