The Washington Post

‘Mama’ and other new movie releases

Jessica Chastain stars in Guillermo del Toro's horror movie, "Mama." Universal Picture, 2013.

This week's new movies did not garner the critical praise of their likely box office competitor, the Oscar-nominated "Zero Dark Thirty." That is, with the exception of the New York crime drama "Broken City," which received a warm review from critic Stephanie Merry.  Here are the critics' takes:

* ½ "Mama" (PG-13) "Sure, it’s scary enough, but cheaply, not deeply. The story about two orphaned girls found living in a remote cabin in the woods with an ectoplasmic caregiver contains enough frights to satisfy the minimum recommended allowance. But it doesn’t engender the kind of dread that lingers as you walk from the theater lobby to the parking garage." -- Michael O'Sullivan

** ½ "Broken City" (R) "Aside from the Oscar holdovers in early January, this month’s film releases typically are a sad lot. You may want to account for low expectations, but the crime drama “Broken City” turns out to be much better -- and funnier and more suspenseful -- than both trailer and release date portend." -- Stephanie Merry

* "The Last Stand" (R) "That’s the thing about this corpse pileup of an action movie. It persistently tries to drag the audience down to its mindless level." -- Stephanie Merry

** "LUV" (R) "Take Your Child to Work Day should not be universally observed. For example, a recently paroled member of society whose daily grind involves guns, drugs, dodgy “co-workers” and fistfights ought to consider celebrating Leave Your Kid at School Day instead." -- Stephanie Merry

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