The Cricket's Daily 3: One nasty 'Mama'
Published: February 22, 2013 09:55AM
Updated: January 18, 2013 09:12AM
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This film image released by Universal Pictures shows Jessica Chatain in a scene from "Mama." (AP Photo/Universal Pictures)

Three studio movies battle for the top this weekend, with one mean mother poised to win.

"Mama" is an atmospheric horror-thriller, about two little girls who survive in the wild -- thanks to a supernatural presence that gets awfully protective. That mysterious thing starts wreaking havoc on the lives of the girls' uncle (Nicolaj Coster-Waldau) and his rocker girlfriend (Jessica Chastain), who take the girls in when they are "rescued" from their feral existence. Director Andy Muschietti stirs up some old-school chills, and benefits from having a strong actress like Chastain to flesh out what would otherwise be a typical damsel-in-distress role.

Scheduling issues and Sundance preparations kept The Cricket from seeing the other two movies opening this weekend, but the Tribune's Vince Horiuchi pinch-hit admirably.

Vince was unimpressed with Arnold Schwarzenegger's return to leading-man status, in the shoot-'em-up "The Last Stand." He also didn't care for "Broken City," an urban political thriller starring Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe.

The art-house slate is empty this week, as the Tower and half of the Broadway have given themselves over to the Sundance Film Festival.