Maggie Movie Review

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A large trend in cinema that has turned most people off to the horror genre is zombies. Yes, zombies. Love them or hate them they are here to stay. However, with any genre it has a possibility of going stagnant. There’s only so many times the general audience can see a cannibalistic undead person eat a puppy before it gets boring. Meanwhile, others out there will skip it all together for anything else. Which is kinda why I’m reviewing Maggie. This is a cross between a zombie movie and a family tragedy movie.

Unlike most zombie scenarios the world doesn’t completely collapse once they show up. In Maggie a rather refreshing approach was taken. The various governments around the world declare a forum of Martial Law and require everyone to be tested and treated. The intro, and everything that follows, I believe is a more realistic approach. There are a few instances in the movie where it shows people coming to terms with the death of their friends, or family, and learning to deal with it. To me this makes more sense since zombies are stupid and slow. So I couldn’t see a fast paced world ever be over thrown by a bunch of decaying freaks. So I kinda enjoyed this different take on this horror genre.

I could see that it was trying to push tragic themes into the audiences head, like movies about cancer. The only difference is that its about a disease that turns people into face eaters. So I kinda felt detached from it and the impact was lost. I felt it was less serious at some points then it could have been. The characters also developed different ways in dealing with the onset illness. Most were grizzly and it added to the overall impact of the situation. A kind of slow sorrow is felt throughout the film despite it being unevenly paced.

The major downfall to this movie is it’s pacing. Yes some of it does add to the theme of “the world is dying,” but it like all zombie movies after a while it’s like “we get it.” The random burning cars and torn apart houses get old after a while. Sure it could just be the background, but a lot of the scenes wouldn’t even involve the characters but random wreckage. These slow scenes kinda disrupt the pacing of the characters development, which other wise are well rounded. This doesn’t add much to the story and to a certain extent I think took away from good areas in the film where they could have simply done something else.

Oddly enough some slow scenes highlight a lot of the actors better abilities. It showed a good dramatic side to Arnold Schwarzenegger, which is rarely scene. Abigail Breslin is back to displaying her best skills as a girl who struggles with the fact that she’s slowly dying. Joely Richardson does a great job of being a cold hearted mother and compliments Schwarzenegger’s meandering about his daughters health. The bit characters do a decent job at adding tension to the film, but are only lost because of how quick they are introduced and then discarded.

Hopefully this will add some variety to the genera. For the tragedy buffs out there, you’ll probably love this. For the zombie fans, well, avoid it. There isn’t that much gore or cannibalism involved. In other words, it lacks action and the adventure elements that are usually in zombie films. The emotional turmoil of the family is enveloping and will draw most to the film. The heartfelt look into deaths in the family is something I hope most writers will consider for future movies in this genre. It’s a decent sad film, but I probably won’t be watching it again since it’s like seeing a rerun of fireworks: you know where the explosions are going to happen and fizzle out.

6.0/10

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This American Life (TV Show Review)

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Most TV shows hook people with repetition. The Walking Dead gets their audience emotionally attached to a dumb luck person in a zombie apocalypse and then kills that person a few episodes later, or teases it. Things like Breaking Bad intrigue people because it’s terrible people doing terrible things to each other and, lets face it, most people aren’t anything like those involved. So to say the least: repeating the same things hasn’t ever appealed to me. So, I usually lose interest in TV shows and fall behind in whatever the latest social craze is about.

This American Life’s only repeat theme, so far, is their dedication to telling people’s lives through their own words. They record them for a few days. They interview them for a brief time. Then it’s wrapped up with a brief outcome of that segment of their life. It might sound boring, but the major difference is the types of lives people live and their struggles through common issues.

Most stories are uplifting or give some good insight into just other aspects of life that most wouldn’t be aware about. Like they interviewed the first man to get a genetic clone, but it was of his pet bull. You know? The thing with big horns? It showed how they basically struggled with the mortality, and reality, of their dead pet. Which lead into a episode called Escape. It was about a boy, now a man, who slowly loses all of his normal motor functions due to a rare terminal illness. The fellow struggled with his thoughts, family relations, talking, eating, trying to go for a walk, etc. It was nothing short of completely heart breaking.

The episodes flow seamlessly together and embody something grand; the enduring human spirit. Even if you find yourself not caring about what the people are talking about, or are irritated, it still explains in depth as to why they are the way they are and how they became that way. The attention to detail is finite and gives enough to explain how these issues are important to people. Like in the second season a couple started fighting over lawn care. I thought “well just mow the lawn and shut up.” Then they explained how it was for this man, who viewed something as simple as grass and how certain European influences dissuaded him from ever wanting to touch the lawn. I did find it kinda boring, but the insight was rather deep.

There are a lot of beautiful stories in This American Life. Then, at the same time, there’s a lot of oddities that make me just wonder “why?” Why are these people like this? Why are these people so stupid? Why are these two still together? Why do they do this to themselves? Then I remembered: because people are different. This show highlights the differences, the tragedies, their hopes, and everything in between. It’s a fantastic voyeuristic view into the thoughts, minds, and hearts of many while taking no punches at the people involved. Many of the stories will linger and others will quickly be forgotten like a bad day at work. Regardless this has great insight into the human adventure that is the modern day life.

Please watch at least a few episodes before making a judgment. It’s a trench of empathy that is endlessly captivating.

9.0/10
This American Life show is available on Showtime and Amazon Prime.

The radio show is available for free at This American Life.org.