‘Last Stand’ annihilates, ‘Mama’ disintegrates in theaters

You cannot go wrong with either of the two new movies that I reviewed during the Jan.24, 2013, edition of “Breakthrough Thinking: The Magazine.” However, “The Last Stand” – an actioner that officially welcomes Arnold Schwarzenegger back to the big screen – has a slight edge over “Mama” – a supernatural-themed horror flick produced by Guillermo del Toro.

‘The Last Stand’

Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a sleepy border town sheriff who, with his inexperienced staff, is the U.S. law enforcement’s last opportunity to intercept a drug kingpin who has just escaped from an FBI prison convoy before he slips across the border forever. (R – 107 minutes)

If “The Last Stand” were any more fun, it would likely be illegal. The new actioner shoots out of the gate like a bullet with something to prove, annihilating anything and everything in its path before finally hitting the bullseye of its target – a scene in which star Arnold Schwarzenegger re-positions himself as an authentic action hero. Where else can you see a machine gun firing from the back of a school bus and a bad guy blown to bits by a flare gun? Having said that, the movie is somewhat stuck in the middle of comedy and consequences, mixing laugh-out-loud humor with vehement violence. (Grade: B)

‘Mama’

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays a man who, with his girlfriend (Jessica Chastain), is faced with the challenge of raising his young nieces that were left alone in the forest for 5 years. Before long, the couple wonders if the girls are the only guests they have welcomed into their home. (PG-13 – 100 minutes)

When “Mama” mimics the eerie fairy tale-like atmosphere of producer Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth,” it is a macabre masterpiece. However, when it simulates the second-rate spookiness of “The Ring” and the other several dozen movies about a ghostly spirit with a right to wrong, it is utterly uninspired. The new horror movie is mostly made up of the latter as writer/director Andrés Muschietti, expanding upon his short film of the same title, stalls for time. Thanks, though, to those moments of ghastly genius and an appropriately somber ending, it is sure to leave you at least a little unsettled. (Grade: C)

Joseph J. Airdo

Joseph J. Airdo is a film critic, producer and on-air personality for Breakthrough Entertainment, a talk radio show airing 10-11 a.m. Saturdays on KPHX 1480 AM and BreakRadioShow.com that shines a spotlight on the practical perspectives of the topics and themes explored in movies. He has a pet duck named Frozen who is as opinionated about movies as he is. E-mail him at joseph.airdo@gmail.com.

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