Let’s go to the movies – Friday August 24 – August 30, 2012

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Now playing in Pattaya

Shambhala: (Scheduled) Thai, Drama – An interesting and unusual Thai film starring two quasi-Thai actors of considerable note: Lao-Australian superstar Ananda Everingham, and Thai-French heart-throb Sunny Suwanmetanon.  They play brothers on a pilgrimage to Tibet in search of Shambhala, a fabled kingdom that most consider to be located in Tibet, and is thought of as a sort of heaven on Earth in Tibetan and Indian Buddhist traditions. Actually shot in the expansive scenery of that country, and the project, written and directed by Panchapong Kongkanoi, took three years to complete.  I’m looking forward to this one.

The Dinosaur Project: (Scheduled) UK, Adventure – Explorers go in search of a lost world with high-tech video cameras.  Their target: a Loch Ness monster-like creature lurking in the depths of the Congo.  This is an eccentrically British attempt to paste together two very different genres: stupendous dinosaur epic, like Jurassic Park, and found-footage fake documentary, like The Blair Witch Project.  Mixed or average reviews.

The Bourne Legacy: US, Action/ Adventure/ Thriller – Jason Bourne (played in the three previous films by Matt Damon), the cause of all the mayhem, is not in fact in this film.  It retains the name Bourne to identify it as a continuation of the franchise.  The protagonist here is played by Jeremy Renner, in yet another CIA black ops program that the CIA decides to terminate after the disastrous events depicted in the first three films.  Generally favorable reviews, saying in general that It isn’t quite as compelling as the earlier trilogy, but nevertheless proves the franchise has stories left to tell — and benefits from Jeremy Renner’s magnetic work in the starring role.  In 2D (English) at Pattaya Beach and Major, 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.

Echo Planet: Thai, Animation/ Family – A rather brilliant Thai animated feature by the studio that gave us the hit film Khan Kluay six years ago.  It’s about three youngsters determined to save the world from global warming, and how traditional folk wisdom can do more to tackle world-wide problems than high-tech devices.  I like this film very much and wish I could induce more people to see it. It has much to offer.  The animation is quite superb, and the Thai-ness of the film is delightful.

I found it a quite entertaining tale with an environmental message, and a historic triumph for Thai animation.  Also a personal triumph, I’d say, for the force behind it all, Kompin Kemkumnird, a Thai who has worked for both Disney (on the team for Tarzan) and Blue Sky Studios (creators of the Ice Age series).  At present this excellent film seems to be playing in Thai only (and that’s a real shame) at Pattaya Beach (in 3D) and Big C (in 2D); no longer at Major (at least as of Wednesday).

Brave: US, Animation/ Action/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family/ Fantasy – Set in Scotland in a rugged and mythical time, about an impetuous daughter of royalty.  It’s produced by Pixar Animation Studios for Walt Disney, and is Pixar’s first fairy tale, and somewhat darker and more mature in tone than its previous films.  Generally favorable reviews, saying it offers young audiences and fairy tale fans a rousing, funny fantasy-adventure with a strong female protagonist, and surprising depth.  In 3D (English) at Pattaya Beach, 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Major and Big C.

Yes or No 2: Thai, Drama/ Romance – The sequel to Yes or No, the romance between Pie and Kim, two girls who fall in love with each other.  Now, Pie and Kim have been in a relationship for three years, but an internship during their fourth year forces them to stay in different places for a while.  However, their long distance love only strengthens their devotion.  2D with English subtitles at all locations.

Total Recall:  US/ Canada, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi – This is a remake of the 1990 science fiction film which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger.  This one stars Colin Farrell, with Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel.  It’s set in 2084, and the plot involves a factory worker who suffers from violent nightmares, and takes advantage of the services of a corporation that provides its clients with implanted artificial memories of the lives they would like to have.  Mixed or average reviews, saying that it has some impressive action sequences but lacks the intricate plotting, wry humor, and fleshed out characters that made the original a sci-fi classic.  In 2D (English) at Pattaya Beach and Major; 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.

The Expendables 2: US, Action/ Thriller – The Expendables are reunited for what should be an easy paycheck, but when one of their men is murdered on the job, their quest for revenge puts them deep in enemy territory and up against an unexpected threat.  Stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Jason Statham, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jet Li, and Sylvester Stallone; directed by Simon West.  Mixed or average reviews.  Rated R in the US for strong bloody violence throughout.  In 2D (English) at Pattaya Beach and Major, 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.

Step Up 4 / Step Up Revolution:  US, Drama/ Music/ Romance – If you like the Step Up films, there’s no reason you won’t enjoy this one.  Lots in Thailand do: it’s one of the hits of the year.  The dance sequences are lively and spectacular, and there is something endearing about the series: they know that they aren’t high art, don’t take themselves too seriously, and simply enjoy themselves.  Their predictable and moronic story lines are only an excuse to showcase some truly mad dance moves that you’d never get to see in real life.  Mixed or average reviews, but on the low side.  In 3D (English) at Pattaya Beach and Major; 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.

Sat2Mon / Kuen Won Sao: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – A love-stricken young man is seeking help to date his dream girl from the girl’s best friend.  It’s said to have some cute and endearing moments along the way to a predictable ending.  With English subtitles at all locations.

Seven Something: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – Three love stories from three generations, designed to celebrate the seventh year of the film studio GTH, home of many Thai hits, starting with the 2003 childhood romance Fan Chan (My Girl), one of my most favorite of all Thai films.  Said to be very much in the spirit of past GTH efforts, featuring directors and stars who’ve played a part in the studio’s successes: familiar GTH-type stories about comfortable middle- and upper-class urban Thai existence, each with a wistful bittersweet and ambiguous ending.  Now playing only at Pattaya Beach, in 2D with English subtitles (as of Wednesday).

The Dark Knight Rises: US/ UK, Action/ Adventure/ Crime/ Thriller – If you at all enjoyed the first two in this series, you will enjoy this one too.  All in all, it’s a fitting and satisfying conclusion to the series, with much to commend it.  This is without doubt one of the darkest mainstream films ever made, with an unrelieved depiction of the worst of human behavior.  It’s a well made film, there are fine performances, the movie craft in every department is superb.  It’s directed again by Christopher Nolan, with Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Caine.  2D (English) at Pattaya Beach and Major; no longer playing at Big C, at least as of Wednesday.  Generally favorable reviews.