Let’s go to the movies – Friday 15 July – 21 July 2011

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Now playing in Pattaya

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi – This, the final Harry Potter, opened yesterday, absent a major catastrophe, and is probably the only film playing, or nearly.  Anyway, don’t fight it, go see it.

You know you will eventually anyway.  The word is that it’s an exciting and massively eventful finale that will grip and greatly please anyone who has been at all a fan of the series up to now.  The entire series of Potter books and motion pictures has been leading us to this final showdown between Harry and Voldemort.  But the fight here between good and evil is more than satisfying.  It’s thrilling – carrying an ultimate message that will resonate with every viewer, young or old: there is darkness in all of us, but we can overcome it.

I can almost predict with a certainty that it is now playing in both 2D and 3D versions at all three cinemas, and that the ones at Big C are Thai-dubbed.

Largo Winch 2 (Tome 2) / The Burma Conspiracy: France/ Germany/ Belgium, Action/ Adventure/ Thriller – Quite excellent, and a logical choice to be shown in Thailand.  Some of it is set in Chiang Mai, some in Bangkok, and the crucial center of the story takes place just over the border in Burma, among the Karen.  The themes of “Crimes Against Humanity” and corporations too large for their own good are straight from the headlines of the day.

“Largo Winch” is a popular Belgian comic book series following the travails of a young and handsome orphan and his adoptive father Nerio, head of a business empire.  After his father is murdered, Largo inherits the empire, but he is accused of crimes against humanity on the very day he announces his intention to sell the corporation and use the proceeds to create a humanitarian foundation.

Despite being listed as in English with Thai subtitles, or told that at the box office, the truth is that it is shown in its original languages (note the plural) and with English and Thai subtitles as needed.  The original languages are English, French, Thai, Serbian, and some Karen.  Maybe a few others.  Quite an interesting international mixture, mirrored by the world-trotting locales, and the stars from many nations.  Proves that not only Hollywood can come up with a first-class action film.  It’s exciting and full-bodied, and the Berlin-born French-but-of-Russian-and-Yemenite-origin stand-up comedian Tomer Sisley is just perfect for the heroic central role of Largo.  I’d like to see more of him.  Mixed or average reviews.  Not at Major.

The Roommate: US, Drama/ Thriller – I haven’t seen such scathing reviews in a long time.  Story of a deranged college freshman who becomes obsessed with her new roommate.  Consensus seems to be that it lacks chills, thrills, or even cheap titillation, and is just plain bad.  Worse, it’s plagiarized from the film Single White Female, pitched to teens.  Rated 18+ in Thailand, presumably for violence and menace, sexual content, some language, and teen partying; rated only PG-13 in the US.  Generally unfavorable reviews, and at the lower end of that category.  Pattaya Beach only.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi – 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.

This indeed has been a big 2D and 3D spectacular at all Pattaya locations, with both versions Thai-dubbed at Big C.  How the coming of Harry Potter changes the schedule is unknown as this is written.  The 3D is the best I’ve seen since Avatar.  A lot of care went into that aspect by the studio and director Michael Bay.  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. Not at Big C.

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: 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 only; 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.  May have departed.

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.  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, if indeed it’s still playing.