ON DVD & Blu-Ray: May 7, 2013

I am not a fan of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels, but that is only because I have never been afforded the chance to read any of them. I am a fan of Christopher McQuarrie though and McQuarrie wrote the script for one of my favorite films of all time, 1995’s The Usual Suspects. With that I was genuinely excited to hear he was writing and directing a film and that it was an adaptation of a popular book series about a military investigator. Those that have read or are fans of Mr. Child’s book series were likely also very excited to hear "One Shot" was going to be brought to the big screen but not so much when they heard Tom Cruise was cast in the lead role. Apparently Jack Reacher, our main protagonist, is a 6’5 beefed up ex-military man who is also a womanizer and leaves an unmistakable impression every time he walks into a room. As big a movie star as Tom Cruise is it was still hard to imagine his much shorter stature playing this kind of role despite his assured intensity making up for all he was lacking physically. Having not read the books this quarrel was less of an issue with me, but rather allowed me to be more inclined to enjoy the film rather than constantly holding my breath to see if Cruise could actually pull it off. While the books seem to be a series of nicely written police procedurals, stories that you might here on an episode of 48 Hours or some such programming both McQuarrie and Cruise are able to elevate this to something fresh on screen by taking notes from those that have come before. Jack Reacher is a very serious, hard edged cop drama that knows it isn’t breaking any boundaries but does what is expected of it very well. B

Mama is a film that could easily sway in either direction depending on the type of movie you like and the type of film you were expecting going into it. I wasn't necessarily wanting or hoping for a film that was downright terrifying, but instead I was looking for something with a little more weight to it. Given that Guillermo del Toro was producing and has delivered acclaimed genre pictures such as Pan's Labyrinth and The Orphanage along with the fact it starred Jessica Chastain (The Help, Zero Dark Thirty) it was not out of the question to expect a little more than what typically might be given in a January release with lesser credentials. If you were expecting a downright thriller though, something of a truly scary film the fact is you will likely be disappointed as Mama is not necessarily even the scariest film I’ve seen in the last year. What the film does do nicely though is track its story in a lovely progression and documents these developments with inventive camerawork from first time feature director AndrĂ©s Muschietti (who also wrote the script) and is performed to a credible degree not only by Chastain but from her supporting cast as well. Mama does a fine job of distracting from its lack of scares by pulling the audience in through the backstory surrounding its main antagonist and title character, while still being able to throw in a good amount of jump scares that will keep the teens who will no doubt rush out to rent this satisfied and more than willing to recommend it to their friends. It may not exactly be the type of high caliber art that del Toro's other projects have earned the status of, but it more than serves its purpose. C+

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