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Arnie turns sensitive

A zombie drama that is surprisingly tender

Nicholas Barber | July/August 2015

“Schwarzenegger vs Zombies” is a pitch that would have most studio executives sprinting for their chequebooks, but “Maggie” isn’t the film they’d have in mind. As spine-tingling as it may be, Henry Hobson’s directorial debut is, at heart, a tender and thoughtful indie drama about terminal illness, and Arnie’s performance is suitably subdued. Yes, he brandishes a shotgun, and, yes, he dispatches more than one undead monster, but he doesn’t deliver a single smirking catchphrase while he’s at it.

Accent aside, he is also surprisingly credible as a weary, grey-bearded Kansas farmer whose beloved teenage daughter (Abigail Breslin) has been infected with a zombification virus. She isn’t due to turn into a flesh-chomping maniac for another few weeks, but we can tell from the film’s mournful mood that Brad Pitt won’t be bursting through the door with an antidote in the meantime. All Arnie and Abigail can do is wait, agonised, for the day when he has to point his shotgun at her.

At a time when Hollywood blockbusters lay waste to capital cities on a regular basis, it’s touching to see the Terminator taking death – and undeath – so seriously. Every putrefying cannibal fiend was once somebody’s child, after all. ~ NICHOLAS BARBER

Maggie opens in Britain, July 17th

 

Film at a glance

Amy (July 3rd). Is it too soon for a documentary on Amy Winehouse? Perhaps, but “Amy” is made by the team behind “Senna”, and that was one of 2011’s most gripping films, documentary or otherwise.

Song of the Sea (July 10th). Oscar-nominated Irish cartoon about a lighthouse-keeper’s daughter with links to faerieland. Every shot could be the cover of a children’s book.

The Wonders (July 17th). A ramshackle family of Italian beekeepers staves off bankruptcy. Alice Rohrwacher’s beguiling coming-of-age tale has a dash of magic, but the honey-gathering is so real that cinemas should stock insect-repellent next to the popcorn.

Southpaw (July 24th). A once-great boxer has to rebuild his life outside the ring before he can redeem himself within it. Directed by Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”), “Southpaw” was written for and inspired by Eminem, but ended up starring a heftier actor, Jake Gyllenhaal.

Manglehorn (Aug 7th). Al Pacino rediscovers nuance in this study of a Texan locksmith, bent double by loneliness and regret. Now it’s Robert De Niro’s turn to try a low-key drama...

Absolutely Anything (Aug 14th). Visiting aliens grant Simon Pegg the power to do “absolutely anything”. But it’s the actors you don’t see that make this comedy a must. The late Robin Williams is the voice of Pegg’s dog; Terry Jones (the director) and fellow Pythons voice the aliens. ~ NB

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