Movie Monday – Mama, Beautiful Creatures, Gangster Squad, The Last Stand, World War Z

Wow. It was a busy week in movies for us last week!

Mama was pretty good, right up until the ending. Mama is about two young children orphaned and abandoned in the woods who survive with the aid of an unknown spirit or entity they call Mama. This spirit follows them to suburbia after the girls are found and re-integrated with surviving family. Even though Mama is dubbed as “horror” that it wasn’t scary. Not in the make-me-jump, hide-my-eyes kind of way. It was spooky and suspenseful. The idea of two young girls surviving alone and how it changed their development was scary but in a sad and different kind of way. The story was interesting and we were engaged for the most part, until the suck-fest ending. Total shame. Because despite that, I enjoyed a lot of things about the movie. I would actually not say “don’t see it” because it does have some redeeming qualities.

I’m glad we didn’t spend the extra money to see Beautiful Creatures on the big screen. It was ok but it didn’t impress like I had expected it to. It’s a witch coming-of-age story – meets predestined love story – meets over-arching battle of good versus evil. I don’t know if it’s a matter of age that I don’t feel the connection to these Twlight-esque paranormal love stories, or if it’s just poor story, or poor performance that dulls my senses. Unless you’re a big fan of the series this movie is based on (the Caster Chronicles), or of fantasy in general, I say save yourself the time and skip this one.

Gangster Squad was ok. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t love it. This 1940’s mob movie was full of great costumes and props but the overall package came off a little flat. The characters are all a little one-sided. Ryan Gosling wasn’t particularly convincing as a playboy and Josh Brolin’s tough guy was a little cheesy. Sean Penn was quite good as Mickey Cohen though. I can’t quite bring myself to recommend this one. It just doesn’t have much to offer.

The Last Stand was another mediocre movie. It was fun to see Schwarzenegger back on the screen but this movie just doesn’t have a whole lot to offer either. Schwarzenegger plays a sheriff of a small Mexican border town, with a bumbling band of misfit deputies. Their quiet life is upset by an escaped drug lord headed their way to cross back into Mexico. This movie has lots of action and lots of one-liners – some of them worth a laugh. Unless you’re a big fan of Schwarzenegger, you can probably skip this one too.

I was really pleased with how well they made World War Z. Having just read it a few months ago, I was not sure how it would play out on-screen. I also was very skeptical of the “fast-zombie” concept, since from what I recall, that’s not part of the book. BUT, I think they did a good job putting together this film. Surprisingly, I’m reading a lot of reviews that say the opposite. I guess to each his own. We liked it. I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone so I’m not going to say much else. Bottom line: we enjoyed it and I definitely recommend it.

Cinema should make you forget you are sitting in a theater.
~ Roman Polanski


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