“Mama:” Guillermo del Toro produces this Andres Muschietti directed horror film about a woman (newly minted Golden Globe winner Jessica Chastain) who has taken custody of her two young step nieces after they are found in a dilapidated cabin they’d been abandoned in for five years. The film wins some automatic points by having Chastain in the lead instead of some romantic comedy stalwart trying shake up her image with a C grade horror film, but I can’t help be suspicious of a film that had its logical October release date moved to the January dumping ground. Are the film’s producers trying to capitalize on Chastain’s higher post “Zero Dark Thirty” profile (though none of the films TV ads highlight her presence) or are they ditching a weak film in theaters now so they can ride the “Pacific Rim” wave into home media success a few moments from now? Either way, don’t expect much. Also starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier, and Isabelle Nélisse.
Fun fact: “Mama” is based on a 2008 short film made by the same filmmaker.
“The Last Stand:” Arnold Schwarzenegger tries to resurrect his action movie career after a long absence with this film which follows a small border town sheriff tasked with stopping a vicious drug lord from escaping to Mexico in his tricked out supercar. While obviously not “Terminator” level material, “The Last Stand” could be dumb fun, with Johnny Knoxville playing a Arnold’s gun nut deputy and with “The Good, The Bad, The Weird” helmer Kim Ji-Woon directing so it’s bound to have some well-constructed action sequences. There is some sadness in seeing a Schwarzenegger flick relegated to the January hinterlands instead of being the action movie event of the summer but times change and you can’t unmake “The 6th Day” and “Collateral Damage,” you can just mourn the good days and wish the old man doesn’t embarrass himself too much. Also starring Forest Whitaker, Rodrigo Santoro, and Luis Guzman.
Fun fact: With a $30 million budget, “The Last Stand” is the lowest budgeted Schwarzenegger vehicle since 1990’s “Kindergarten Cop.”
“Broken City:” Mark Whalberg stars as a disgraced ex-cop who takes the ostensibly simple job following the wife of the Mayor of New York (Russell Crowe) only to get a caught up in a major scandal. This film marks the solo debut of Allen Hughes, one half of the Hughes Brothers duo who have directed “Book of Eli” and “Menace II Society” and it’d be great to write that this film looks like it’ll be another gritty winner, it really doesn’t. Wahlberg is only compelling when he’s being a complete idiot or an overly emotional mess, but here he looks to be in full on thick-necked action hero mode which is crazy boring. And Crowe, who hasn’t been really good in a movie in far too long, doesn’t appear to be doing anything here that will break his mediocre streak. And the whole evil politician manipulating a rough neck who should know better seems like a Syd Field exercise rather than an actual movie plot. January is a rough month. Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jeffrey Wright, and Barry Pepper.
Fun fact: The film’s soundtrack is composed by Academy Award winner Atticus Ross.
Mario McKellop has written about film on Examiner for the last three years and can be reached directly at email@example.com