Mama (2013)

This is a film by Executive Producer Guillermo del Toro. Really, that was the main reason I decided to watch this film in the first place. I am not sure I would say that I liked his other films, but I like his art direction quite a bit. Much like Sin City was not a great film, but it looked fantastic, I find del Toro's films to be intriguing in their interpretations.

This sucker stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in the duel role as the brothers who are father and uncle to the two little girls who are central to the plot. If there was an actor who would benefit from a stage name, it's someone named Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. But, he's made a name for himself as the Kingslayer in Game of Thrones, so I suspect he's decided to stick with this difficult to remember and difficult to pronounce name.

The movie is about these two little girls who are taken to a remote cabin in the woods by their father who had already killed some people (including their mother) and was planning on killing himself and the girls at the cabin. Not in that order, obviously. When he goes to do the deed, a force comes out of the woods and stops him. The girls are then brought up by this entity in the woods for a few years. When the girls are found and the uncle and his woman decide to take the girls in, bad things are afoot.

The movie sports the usual del Torro artistic flare. In particular, one first-person scene from the perspective of a Mama flashback is very convincing and startling. Also tossed here and there are the CG black infection veins that have been used in these kinds of movies for years. It's actually a bit of a letdown that they were used here at all. Kind of a hack job.

When dealing with the violent paranormal creatures in these movies, they always have limitations on their powers that is never completely defined or understood. They seem all-powerful most of the time and can usually only be defated after you learn some secret about their past that shows their weakness and some person (either a psychic or a religious person is best, but a doctor or scientist who willingly disregards science will do in a pinch). That's just the way these things work out. Why alter the formula?

In this movie, we get a psychologist. At one point, he actually says that what he has determined has no basis in logic. Clearly, if he is a logical person, then his conclusion is based in logic; it's simply not based on enough evidence to support the conclusion. Essentially, he has formulated a hypothesis based on loose information and informal observations, but that's a bit too technical for Hollywood writers, so it's easier to understand that everybody on the planet is just waiting to throw their lifelong habits away and embrace something that makes no sense. The only other option is for the people who refuse to yield to the supernatural and they subsequently die.

Hey, there's no writer as the main character in this one. I mean, we have the uncle who is an artist and his woman who is professionally in a band, but they aren't writers! Fully 50% of the movies I've watched lately have had writers as their protagonists, and it strikes me that writers seem to only be able to understand how writers think. Maybe that's why Grisham novels sell so well - they all have lawyers as protagonists (because John was a lawyer).

And another thing (I say in my crotchetiest old man voice) WTF is up with the music in these movies being like ten times louder than the dialogue? I can't single this movie out, as all movies do it. It's like the sound editors all work for commercial companies, and they know that you should have audio that is important for people to hear and some that is not. If it's not important, people won't listen to it, so they will have to be forced to listen to it at an uncomfortable volume. Is there a composers' union that could dictate something like that?

Art direction was very good.
CG was just kind of okay. The bar is high these days.
The dog was useless. It's not important, but they needed a better dog.
Directing was decent.
Writing was interesting. They had enough of a twist to make it slightly different.
Dialogue was predictable.
Audio had the aforementioned issues.



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