Let’s go to the movies – Friday August 19 – August 25, 2011

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Now playing in Pattaya

King Naresuan Part 4: Thai, History/ Drama/ War – The long war between Ayudhya and Burma continues in this historical spectacular with a cast of thousands, but the promised battle of the elephants has been put off till Part 5 (or Part 6?).

Shown with English subtitles except at Big C, where it’s in Thai only. The Thai government has rated this film “Promote” – which means they encourage you to see it. Yes, even the disturbing beheading shown so graphically in the previews.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes: US, Action/ Drama/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – I was entranced by this film. I thought it thoroughly entertaining, and thought-provoking, and the advances in the motion-capture process of the WETA company just astounding! The amount of expression in the eyes of the chimps is truly amazing.

Using great advances in the performance-capturing technology pioneered by WETA in Avatar, this is the first time in the series when the apes are not played by costumed actors but are something much more realistic – I mean truly; just wait till you see them! Starring the truly amazing Andy Serkis as the chimpanzee Caesar in a very exciting and moving performance. Serkis has been leading up to this role by playing other notable CGI characters: Gollum in the Lord of the Rings, and King Kong. Also starring Freida Pinto and James Franco.

Set in present day San Francisco, the film is a reality-based cautionary tale, a science fiction/science fact blend, where man’s experiments with genetic engineering lead to the development of intelligence in apes, and the onset of a war for supremacy. This is a reboot of the original Planet of the Apes film series: It starts afresh with a new continuity, and as you will note from an additional scene a short way into the credits, more in this series is on the way.

Generally favorable reviews, but I would be more enthusiastic than that. Not designed for 3D; in English everywhere and with a second version Thai-dubbed at Big C.

Final Destination 5: (Scheduled) US, Horror/ Thriller – Death is just as omnipresent as ever in this the fifth(!) of this series (over eleven years!) about death not liking it when he’s cheated of his victims.  One man’s premonition saves a group of coworkers from a terrifying suspension bridge collapse. But since this group of unsuspecting souls was never supposed to survive, each one is stalked by a particularly inventive death. For viewers left unsated at movie’s end, the closing credits, I’ve been told, contain a montage of particularly memorable deaths from prior films. Rated R in the US for strong violent/ gruesome accidents, and some language. Mixed or average reviews.

One Day: (Scheduled) US, Drama/ Romance – Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess) meet on the night of their college graduation – July 15th, 1988. After spending the night together, Dexter and Em are shown each year on the same date to see where they are in their lives. They are sometimes together, sometimes not.

Captain America: The First Avenger: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – Really a lot of old-fashioned fun, and by old I mean a steady camera – not jiggly as is the current fashion, and action you can follow rather than a blur of images. And solid, confident film-making, so you feel that you’re in the hands of experts. And an old time, World War II era with a terrific and detailed evocation of the time and the wartime mood in the US. And a good, old-fashioned Hollywood musical number just to round things out.

After being deemed unfit for military service, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) volunteers for a top secret research project that turns him into Captain America, a superhero dedicated to defending America’s ideals. Has fine performances by Evans, Hugo Weaving, Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, and others.

Way at the end, after the seemingly endless credits, there are secret scenes from future films in the series. I’m looking forward to them.

At least as of Wednesday it was playing in both 2D and 3D versions in English at Pattaya Beach, in 2D and English at Major, and in 3D and Thai-dubbed at Big C. I’ve now seen the 3D as well as the 2D, and though the 3D is excellent and designed from the beginning for 3D, it still seemed for much of the film too dark. Some sections were superlative 3D, done with a lot of care for the effect. Generally favorable reviews.

Larry Crowne: US, Comedy/ Drama/ Romance – Tom Hanks plays the ultimate nice guy – the type who attracts nice people and makes them even nicer. Even when he loses his job, we never doubt that this nice guy will land on his feet and even end up better off. The “feel-good” movie of the year, written and directed by nice-guy Hanks. Also stars Julia Roberts. Mixed or average (“nice”) reviews. Now at Pattaya Beach only.

Bad Teacher: (Scheduled) US, Comedy – Cameron Diaz plays a foulmouthed, ruthless, altogether inappropriate teacher who drinks, gets high, and can’t wait to marry her meal ticket and quit teaching. It’s a repulsive character, and I felt uncomfortable. I know: it’s just a comedy, and I should lighten up. I just don’t think we should have as a role model (for the first half of the film, anyway) an alcoholic doing everything a teacher shouldn’t. With Jason Segel and Justin Timberlake (who is getting to be a very pleasant person to share a movie with). Rated R in the US for sexual content, nudity, language, and some drug use. Mixed or average reviews.

Horrible Bosses: US, Comedy/ Crime – It’s been called a bouncy, well-built, delightfully nasty tale of resentment, desperation, and amoral revenge. Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, Jason Bateman, and Kevin Spacey are nasty, uneven, and funny. Rated R in the US for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug material. Mixed or average reviews. Major Cineplex only, in Digital (but not 3D).

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi – 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. Playing now only in a 2D version; not playing at Big C. Reviews: one of the rare films to be labeled by Metacritic as “Universal acclaim.”

The Moon (Pumpuang Duangjan): 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. One of the most anticipated Thai films of the year, and with a newcomer in the starring role. Prettified as biography, with reportedly anything that shows anyone in a bad light changed or deleted. Lots of Thai music though. Not at Major.

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. Set against the space race between the USSR and the USA, the film re-imagines the reasons for the race.

This has been continuing at Pattaya Beach only – at least as of Wednesday – in its second cinema devoted to digital 3D films. 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.

Gancore Gud: Thai, Comedy/ Horror – Usual Thai horror-comedy mix of boobs and severed limbs, this time with gangsta rap. It’s written and directed by hip-hop guru Joey Boy and stars him and his hip-hop group Gancore Club. The group is stuck on a remote island, where their paradise turns to horror as they encounter bloody islanders who love to kill people, and zombies that rise up from the sea. In Thai only at Big C, English subtitles at Pattaya Beach, not at Major. Rated 18+.