Sunday, 26 July 2015
The Walking Dread.
95 Minutes. Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin & Joely Richardson. Director: Henry Hobson.
Judgement Day! Schwarzenegger vs Zombies. Time to see if the all-action Arnold can actually act...wait...what? Is this not another Arnie film where he totes guns and kills more bad guys than he sheds bullets in the name of brain eaters? I mean this film even stars a veteran of the undead before 20, Abigail Breslin of 'Zomieland' fame...and we all know how that one turned out. Even back then in 2009, when Breslin was barely a teen, the fright night zombie genre was looking a little tired around the eyes and done to death despite that hit action comedy. More Dawn of the End than 'Dawn Of The Dead'. Still since then the genre within one, if a usually uninventive horror one has shown signs of everlasting life. From one of the worlds most popular T.V. shows on the box, 'The Walking Dead' to 'World War Z''s novel idea of the brilliant books of Max Brooks that ran with the idea of giving these staggering souls drunk off death a little more athleticism. Now too, with Breslin as one of the 'Warm Bodies' in 'Maggie' she and her walking dad are giving a new redemptive resurrection to another zombie film in a genre that leaves most people moaning. In her own Judgement Day, Maggie may turn at any moment to the dark side of those infected with a worse plaque than death ("it's not a tumor"!). Facing the fate of zombie nation or containment, this young girls choices have gone from a night with friends or Facebook to blood or brains. With worse growing pains than puberty, after being bitten with the worse kind of bug this girl will mature into a flesh eater before graduating to the cap and gown. No wonder her Schwarzenegger father armed with a curfew instead of a 22 wants to wrap her in more than cotton wool.
If you think you've got problems waiting up all night for your teenage daughter and wondering why she's not called than spare a thought for Arnold Schwarzenegger. He has no idea when his will be back. You see like with his first horror a decade before his on screen daughters one in 'Zombieland' the former Mr. Universe is staring down his career 'End Of Days'. Still even after returning from the retirement of running for office, the former Governator of California is showing he is far from 'Expendable' and still a franchise face beyond 'The Last Stand', 'Escape Plan' or 'Sabotage' features. He is still legend like the other undead film he was set to star in before politics got in the way. The 'Conan' and 'Predator' series star has proved this by returning to the terrific 'Terminator' franchise that he made his testament, with one of this years best blockbusters of an always big Summer of Marvel and monsters. Even if his 'Genisys' machine was as exterminated by critics, as it was by those who thought he was a dinosaur belonging in 'Jurassic World' instead with their true lies. Those who should take heed to the "Hasta La Vista Baby" punchline kings new catchphrase..."Old Not Obsolete"! Now playing 'Eraser' to all the hate this last action hero is about to become an acting one, looking out for a young daughter in peril against an army of unbeatable enemies, albeit this time without strapping up in the military issue 'Commando' weaponry and war-paint. Moving on from the robotic acting-that was actually inspired for the times he had to motion capture the micro-idiosyncrasies of the machine made man Terminator-the underrated master of action and the comic timing reliefs of laughter and some tears brings us some real drama here and amazing action. He's more than back!
Obsolete becomes absolute as Arnold defies critics and convention to be acclaimed with conviction. Rolling around in a pick-up and checked lumberjack get-up like the real American the Austrian has become. This is the real accented performance without telling...or should we say "yelling" his daughter to take her toy back to the carpet or get to the flying machine with rotating blades. But just you wait until he gets his hands on a chopper, because of course there's some killing of those who are already dead by a mortal man who will do anything to help his daughter from zombies, or becoming one. Because after all sometimes the person you should protect someone from is themselves. This is an epic emotional, pure performance of subtle nuances and restrained passion from the gentle giant that only a real father could understand and relate too after all these years. Blinking back the tears, it almost took a guy that's been around since the early eighties to reach his seventies to show us that he's more than just the daddy as the former 90's golden age king has some new millennium independence with this indie hit. With his fellow action friend and rival Sly Stallone rewriting his action films with his own creative twist, it was about time his 'Escape Plan' co-star went one better with a soulful standout that will move even the most dead to the world to more heart. With 'Nip/Tuck' actress Joely Richardson by his side there's more love here in this family affair, but its Abigail Breslin who is the real actress here one day worthy of the Academy acclaim. Although we'd love to have seen how horror star and 'Carrie' remake young great Chloe Grace Moretz would have done in these dark shadows. In a 'Signs' setting the former 'Little Miss Sunshine' who has been a star standout in underrated films of recent years like Halle Berry's 'The Call' and Harrison Ford's 'Enders Game', brings real maturity and acting acceptance, facing fickle futile fate without a sisters keeper. Thank the man who once beat the devil for being a parent who will do anything to keep his child safe. That's the basic idea of this rookie director Henry Hobson movie that works best as a family drama with a sci-fantasy sub-plot. Sure this indie burner with more backing production companies than that 'Family Guy' scene tease skit at times moves slower than caramel off a spoon but its still stirring with a melting pot of tension mixed with the opera of more meaningful melodrama. And the zombified scenes, even in the fleeting form of few flashbacks are truly terrifying. Just like Breslin's bathtub scene...and you thought that Britney Spears video was scary. This runs through you like the black veins of the infected, standing and scarring out like varicose. This is unsettlingly scary in a whole different sort of way. With themes of death and disease plaguing family dynamics whether young or old this is one bleak picture. But there's some brutal beauty to it. Even if this Terminator isn't bringing the Apocalypse now he still bringing thumbs up, in the hordes. This one will stay with you 28 days, or weeks later. TIM DAVID HARVEY.