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Mama (iTunes HD Digital Download Review)

Universal’s Mama was a film I purposely missed when I had a chance to attend the press screening for it up in Cleveland.  The movie’s trailer did not sell me and quite frankly, it looked God awful to me.  I had already suffered through a Guillermo del Toro produced film before and I did not want to lose two hours of my life doing it again.  But the weirdest thing happened.  Instantly, this film garnered all sorts of positive reviews and attention from critics and fans alike.  Even friends of mine raved about it.   So like usual in life, I was kicking myself for missing out on the opportunity I had to see it and needless to say, I was very much anticipating this title’s arrival on the high definition format of choice…in this case iTunes HD Digital Download.  So lets get down to the nitty gritty.  What say you?

Mama (iTunes HD Digital Download Review)

Film 

Well, I guess there’s no sugar coating it since the score I awarded the film precedes this paragraph.   While Mama is certainly not the worst movie that I’ve ever seen, I was very disappointed by it.  What started off as a really cool concept and beginning just ended up being the same old contrived horror movie we have seen time and time again.  Yawn.   And that ending.   God was it silly.   Was it supposed to be a comedy?  I was never scared throughout.  I was bored.  But I’m a reviewer, and I’m here to do my unbiased job, so lets get to it.

Mama was co-written and directed by Andres Muschietti.  It was based on his short film, a 2008 Spanish language short film of the same and that ladies and gentlemen is what captured the attention of Guillermo del Toro.  As a matter of fact, as I kind of mentioned above, del Toro ended up serving as an executive producer here.  Hey Guillermo, my writing partners and I have many scripts that are better than Mama that we are shopping around.   Just saying…

The film we are gathered here today to discuss revolves around two young girls who end up being abandoned in a forest cabin.  How they survived is the real mystery here to me, but we are led to believe they were fostered by an entity they call Mama, who eventually follows them to their new suburban home after being rescued by their uncle, Game of Throne‘s “king slayer” Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and his girlfriend, Zero Dark Thirty‘s Jessica “No Emotion” Chastain, who sports a horrible, short black wig and a fake sleeve of tattoos.  We are supposed to believe she’s a punk rocker.   Maybe if she showed a little more “emotion” in her roles, I might have actually bought that.  I’m not dissing here beauty.   God no.   I just haven’t seen her in anything spectacular recently to prove otherwise that she’s worthy of my praise and undivided attention like I would give to an actress of Ashley Judd like caliber.   And yes I know.   I’m completely in the minority here regarding here Zero Dark Thirty performance.

Now I’ve grown quite fond of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau lately, but this one’s not going to be any spectacular or noteworthy resume builder for him, in my opinion.  Go see Oblivion instead if you want to actually see him in a good movie.  So anyway, I guess you can say that once we get home here, so to speak, that’s when all hell breaks lose and the fun and games, if you can call them that, begin in Act 2.  And that’s fine, but it’s also where everything starts feeling mundanely familiar and ultimately unravels and leads us to one hell of an unspectacular Act 3.

I should also make mention that many people have gone on record in reviews complaining about the film’s ending.  That was not the problem in my opinion.   I felt it was very well handled.   It was everything else.   The film’s low 15 million dollar budget definitely showed throughout and the Mama ghost…heck I’m still not sure if she was meant to be scary or comical.   I definitely felt the latter by my sarcasm if you can’t tell.  I’m more scared of Pinocchio than Mama.

In addition to Jessica and the king slayer, the film also briefly features two of the cutest young girls I have ever seen played by Morgan McGarry and Maya Dawe.  They are later replace by the actors who play Victoria and Lilly throughout the rest of the film, Megan Charpentier and Isabelle Nelisse.  And they are actually really good and believable in their roles.   They’re not as cute as their younger counterparts, but they single handedly carry the weight of this film on their shoulders nonetheless.   Heck, they are the only ones who showed up in this feature.  The rest of the cast, with the exception of Daniel Kash as Dr. Dreyfuss, are barely worth talking about and their performances are rather quite forgettable.   Hey go figure.   I forgot what I was going to say about them.   Ha ha.

So while I can go on and on about the many flaws and faults I find with this film, I think I’ll rest my case and hit the pause button here.  This one’s definitely a feature that will divide audiences.   You’re either going to love it or you’re going to hate it.  I don’t believe there’s any in between here.   In regards to everyone on iTunes that wrote reviews about how scary this film is I have two questions to challenge you with.   What was so scary about it?   And have you ever seen a horror movie before?

Mama-Video

Video 

The same things that you can find fault with in regards to Mama on the Blu-ray format also haunt this HD Digital Download.   They include edge halos, crush and some moments of sightly compression, the latter as a result of it being a Digital Download.  Now with that being said, not everything’s imperfect here.   Despite the film’s suppressed color palette, I was quite impressed by the contrast, the flesh tones and the deep black levels.   Details in the sets, the fabrics and the shadows that haunt the foreground are all quite strong and remarkable.   There are no noticeable blemishes, noise or artifacts in the print and the cinematic grain is never obtrusive.   It’s not a bad transfer, just not perfect.   You’ll have that and it’s definitely nothing to complain about.   My job is just to report the obvious in these categories. 

Mama (iTunes HD Digital Download Review)

Audio 

This is the section I’m most impressed here with Mama…the download’s 5.1 Dolby Digital track.   You want haunting and brooding?   Well, you go it here.   Things go bump in the night.  Yes.  But it’s what lurks in the shadows all around you that pulls you in and this surround track makes impressive use of the rears in achieving that spacious depth of reality.   Also equally impressive is the track’s dialog levels.   Everything down to the quietest whisper is intelligible and clear throughout.   That’s usually tricky to achieve with whispers, but they nailed it here, I’m pleased to report.  The LFE channel completes this seductive and haunting soundtrack and puts you effectively in the middle of the suspense.   It’s just too bad the film was a stinker or I’d be really raving about this fact.   Oh well, you’ll have that.  And let’s not forget about the score.   It also sounds stellar here, but completely out of place in my opinion.   It draws too much attention to itself and took me out of the moment more than a couple of times.  But that’s that.  Lets say we move onto the bonus goodies, huh?

Extras 

You’ll probably notice the generous score here in this section.   Well, lets be completely honest with each other.   There’s usually not much here in the way of iTunes Extras with these downloads so when there are we need to embrace them, take note and rejoice in the fact.   Let the celebration begin!

  • Original Short: With Introduction by Guillermo del Toro – Guillermo del Toro introduces the original 5-minute Mama short film, which enameled him and drew him to the project.  I was very interested to check this one out.
  • Deleted Scenes – We are treated to approximately 8-minutes of deleted scenes here featuring the following selections: “Honey, I’m Home,” “Not Raised by Animals,” “Doll Parts,” “Conversations with the Wall,” “Lilly in the Garden” and “A Discovery in the Closet.”   For me, I can easily overlook these as I’m not a fan of the film, but for those of you that are (you know who you are), it’s good to know they’re available here.
  • The Birth of Mama – Guillermo del Toro and the filmmakers track the progression of how the film went from a short to its transition to a feature film.  I smell a sequel.  Anyone else?

Mama (iTunes HD Digital Download Review)

Summary 

I honestly can’t recommend this one as I didn’t care for it, but it’s nice to know that if you did, you can have it now as an iTunes HD Digital Download and can be enjoying it as you read this.   For everyone else that wants to wait until the conventional Blu-ray and DVD release or even the iTunes rental, you’ll be able to take it all in on May 7th.   And if you do find yourself curious or are a fan of this feature, please help support our site by ordering here or clicking on one of the links below.   Your support is very much appreciated and I’m sorry that I can’t say anything else more positive about Mama to sell you on it.   I’m just not a fan and I would feel very bad about misleading you.   Until next time…

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Mama

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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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