1. The Last Stand (Lionsgate, 2,913 Theaters, 107 Minutes, Rated R): Conan the Barbarian. Commando. Predator. Total Recall. Terminator. True Lies. Say what you want about him, Arnold Schwarzenegger has an impressive resume of quality action films to his credit. He also has a number of questionable choices in his later career as well, so it is with great interest to see what the former California governor chooses for his return to acting after the end of his political career.
What he chose, well, I guess we’ll have to see what category it falls in. He plays a small town sheriff in a California border town that is faced with a big challenge–he must stop a drug lord and his heavily armed cartel from making it to the Mexico border with only a inexperienced and short-handed staff.
On one hand, it could be the simple kind of plot that Arnold pulls off so well. On the other hand, it could be considered silly and implausible if not done well. The early reviews have been somewhat favorable. We’ll have to see if Arnold’s return to lead roles is a sign that he is back.
2. Mama (Universal, 2,647 Theaters, 100 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Two young girls are found in the woods, more feral than human, five years after being abandoned by their homicidal father. They are taken to their uncle and his girlfriend (played by a deliciously gothy Jessica Chastain) to begin the healing process. But the couple finds out that two young children do not survive in the wilderness alone, and their protector is none too happy that they were taken away. What happens when the protector comes to take the children back?
The film both has a lot going for it (it was produced by Guillermo del Toro, stars the twice Oscar-nominated Chastain in the lead role, and the director of the Argentinian short film it was based on, Andres Muschietti, is back to direct the full-length ) but also has a lot going against it (the plot stretches credibility for even a horror film, the film was supposed to open in the more horror friendly October but instead was pushed to the film wasteland that is January, and–personal preference here–it is a PG-13 horror film). It doesn’t seem like a slam dunk horror flick to me.
Okay, that might not be entirely fair. While Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones might have Oscars, Wahlberg does have a nomination. But his work here as seen in the ads for the film seem worthy of a SNL mocking (when he says in the trailer “Your husband set me up. And I’m going to destroy him for it,” my mind keeps adding “Say hello to your mother for me” at the end of it).
Wahlberg play an ex-NYC cop who is hired by the city’s mayor (Crowe) to find out who is sleeping with his wife (Zeta-Jones). What was a simple trail and surveillance operation gets far trickier when a dead body shows up. Wahlberg realizes that he was set up by the mayor, and decides to bring him down.