Let’s go to the movies – Friday 22 July – 28 July 2011

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News: SFX Cinema Pattaya Beach has opened a second 3D cinema.

Now playing in Pattaya

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi – Go see it.  You know you will eventually anyway.  This, the final Harry Potter, is 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.

It’s powerfully acted and visually dazzling.  The entire series of Potter books and motion pictures has been leading us to this final showdown between Harry and Voldemort.  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.

This screenshot shows Daniel Radcliffe in a scene from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. (Photo/Warner Bros.) This screenshot shows Daniel Radcliffe in a scene from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. (Photo/Warner Bros.)

It’s much better than the book, in my opinion, which has sections that are so preposterous that no amount of suspension of disbelief can overcome.  Playing in both 2D and 3D versions at all three cinemas, in English, except at Big C, where the 3D version is Thai-dubbed, one 2D version is in English and another Thai-dubbed.  I saw it in 2D; from what I’ve read so far, the 3D (which is post-production conversion) is good, but doesn’t add all that much.  Reviews: one of the rare films to be labeled by Metacritic as “Universal acclaim.”

The Lost Bladesman: Hong Kong, Action/ Biography/ Drama/ History – This historical martial arts film set in AD 200 is adapted from the story of Guan Yu crossing five passes and slaying six generals, as told in Luo Guanzhong’s historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms.  Most reviewers claim it’s confusing, some admit to not understanding a thing, but being very impressed with the fine balance between sweeping epic and intimate personal drama.  With superstar Donnie Yen.  Generally favorable reviews.  Thai-dubbed only; not at Major.

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.  At Pattaya Beach only.

Hanna: (Scheduled) US, Action/ Crime/ Mystery – A really weird one, sort of a cross between a Euro Art Film and an ass-kicking female action flick like those of Thailand’s own Jeeja (Chocolate).  Hanna (played by Saoirse Ronan) is a teenage girl with the strength, the stamina, and the smarts of a solider; these come from being raised by her father (Eric Bana), an ex-CIA man, in the wilds of Finland.  Her upbringing and training have been one and the same, all geared to making her the perfect assassin.  The turning point in her adolescence is a sharp one; sent into the world by her father on a mission, Hanna journeys stealthily across Europe while eluding agents dispatched after her by a ruthless intelligence operative with secrets of her own (Cate Blanchett).  An odd film with odd actions done for obscure reasons, but entertaining and intriguing.  Generally favorable reviews.

The Moon (Pumpuang Duangjan): (Scheduled) Thai, Drama/ Musical – The biography of Pumpuang Duangjan, considered the Queen of Thai country music.  The rags-to-riches story charts her successes in the 1980’s up to her early death in 1992 at the age of 31.

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, but 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, and has been continuing in 3D at Pattaya Beach in its new second cinema devoted to digital 3D films.  In 2D at the other locations, and Thai-dubbed at Big C.  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.  Only at Major.

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.  It’s good comic-book fun.  Now in 2D only, and only at Major.  Mixed or average reviews.

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.  Not at Major.  May have departed.

Gan Core Kud: (Scheduled) Thai, Comedy/ Horror – Usual Thai horror-comedy.  A hip-hop group called Gan Core Club is stuck on a remote island.  Their paradise turns to horror when they encounter bloody islanders who kill people, and zombies that rise from the sea.