Let’s go to the movies – Friday 08 July – 14 July 2011

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Now playing in Pattaya

Transformers: Dark of the Moon: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi – This has just about saturated the screens this week, and the cinemas are obviously hoping to make a killing – from the film, and the Transformer toys on sale.  This is indeed a big 2D and 3D spectacle at all Pattaya locations, and both versions are Thai-dubbed at Big C. 

A note about the 3D: It’s the best I’ve seen since Avatar.  The studio and director Michael Bay were determined to make the 3D really good, right from the beginning, and even went so far as to write a letter to the world’s projectionists pleading for them to please use the proper light levels.  This, to counter the common complaint that 3D is too dark and murky.  It seems to have worked: the light levels were fine, everything bright and clear.  An added bonus is the minimum use of “shaky-cam” – shaking the camera to make it look like news photography.  That doesn’t work well in 3D, so there’s little of it here, a real joy for us who hate the gimmick and get eyestrain from it, and think it’s phony anyway.

The opening 12 or so minutes I think is magnificent movie-making: exciting and provocative, beautifully shot, great story, involving.  Then we get the titles and the beginning of the story of the two stars, the incredibly irritating Shia LaBeouf and his girlfriend played by Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who is dreadful.  The movie falls to pieces in my eyes whenever their story is front and center, only to be further undermined by the silly and incredibly noisy battles of the tinker toys.

Too bad, because there’s an involving and interesting movie hidden beneath this one’s detritus.  Set against the space race between the USSR and the USA, the film re-imagines the reasons for the race, and neatly combines historical footage with the fictional “true reasons” which, wouldn’t you know, involves the Transformers and their hidden role in all this.  Mixed or average reviews.

Insidious: US, Fantasy/ Horror/ Thriller – A couple are still unpacking boxes in their family’s new home when the wife first senses a sinister presence.  Eerie events steadily escalate into supernatural attacks, until one day their oldest son slips into a mysterious coma.  I thought it a very scary and very fun haunted-house thrill ride by horror specialist James Wan, the boyish-looking director responsible for the Saw series, and member of the unofficial “Splat Pack” – directors who make brutally violent horror films.  Not so bloody here, just good old-fashioned scares.  See it!  Mixed or average reviews.  At Pattaya Beach only.

Green Lantern: US, Action/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – A test pilot is granted a mystical green ring that bestows him with otherworldly powers, as well as membership into an intergalactic squadron tasked with keeping peace within the universe.  The personable and pleasing Ryan Reynolds becomes one of the six Green Lanterns patrolling Sector 2814, which includes Earth.  Also starring Mark Strong and a delightfully evil Peter Sarsgaard.  Much action on another world, which is nicely detailed visually.

The film does everything right for a hero that is not exactly the world’s favorite (not even well-known), but he has a sizable fan base, and they should be pleased at this realization.  It’s good comic-book fun.  Hidden in the closing credits is a scene from the sequel, in which a surprising character turns out to be evil.  I guess they’re assuming this story will continue through at least one more film. Mixed or average reviews.  As of earlier this week, it was being shown in 2D at all locations, with Big C being Thai-dubbed.

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night: US, Comedy/ Horror/ Thriller – Brandon Routh stars as Dylan Dog, world famous private investigator specializing in affairs of the undead.  Dylan seeks out the monsters in the backstreets of New Orleans, a city with a long and storied history with the supernatural.  Generally unfavorable reviews.  Not at Big C.

Mai Ga Mum: Thai, Comedy/ Drama – Another Thai comedy directed by and starring Thailand’s undisputed comedy superstar, Petchtai Wongkamlao (Mum Jokmok).  Mum’s close friendship with a woman leads to misunderstandings with his wife.

X-Men: First Class: US, Action/ Adventure/ Drama/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – Smart, spectacular, often thrilling, always incredibly entertaining – they did everything right with this one.  Following the classic Marvel mythology, the film charts the epic beginning of the X-Men saga.  Before Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men – beautifully realized by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender – discovering their extraordinary mutant powers for the first time.  Before they were archenemies, they were the closest of friends, working together with other Mutants (some familiar, some new), to stop the greatest threat the world had ever known.  Also features President John F. Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis, in a re-imagining of that near-catastrophic standoff.  Generally favorable reviews.  Film was never planned for 3D; the director, Matthew Vaughn, prefers 2D.  Now only at Pattaya Beach.

The Hangover Part II: US, Comedy – You might find it amusing, but I didn’t like it at all, even though I have to admit I laughed a few times.  In general I thought it just too crass to be fun.  In this follow-up to the record-breaking The Hangover, the same four idiots have another alcoholic blackout and come to in Bangkok.  They only slowly find out what they did.  Rated R in the US for pervasive language, strong sexual content, including graphic nudity, drug use, and brief violent images; 18+ in Thailand.  Mixed or average reviews, but the Bangkok Post’s reviewer, Kong Rithdee, is really angry over this film, calling it “vulgar and stupid, cinematically, geographically, and culturally.”  I concur. At Pattaya Beach only.