Let’s go to the movies – Friday August 26 – September 1, 2011

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Now playing in Pattaya

Cowboys & Aliens: (Scheduled) US, Action/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – Whatever were they thinking?  This is a film in which characters with ugly personalities do unpleasant things to each other – the characters being humans, semi-humans, and alien creatures.  I try to find things in every movie some people might like, so you’ll have some idea if it’s for you.  So here goes . . .  Nope.  Can’t think of one reason why anyone should want to see this movie.  Very mixed styles, very mixed messages, all of it uncomfortable.  A real mess.  Also, strangely, it feels like a cheap film to me – despite the high-priced help of Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford.  Looks like it was shot on a studio back lot.  Mixed or average reviews.  Probably will be in English everywhere and with a Thai-dubbed version at Big C.

Kon Khon: (Scheduled) Thai, Drama/ Musical – Ah, now this is one I have high hopes for!  It’s set in 1965 amongst two rival Khon troupes doing dance performances of the Ramakian.  The principal actors are all actual Khon-drama performers, meaning they’ve had years of training in this ancient and proud Thai story-telling tradition.  In the film, one splendid dancer is the choice to dance the protagonist in the Ramakian, but a brawl between his Khon master and the rival Khon group prevents him from becoming the revered actor he wants to be.  Reportedly contains several long sequences of dance drama, in which the jealously and revenge elements of the story will hopefully attract younger audiences into an appreciation of the art form, according to the director Sarunyu Wongkrachang.  I’m rather fond of Khon drama, especially when refashioned into something approachable by today’s audiences (like the presentations of the renowned Joe Louis Puppet Theatre).  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will even appear!

Conan the Barbarian 3D: (Scheduled) US, Action/ Adventure/ Fantasy – The tale of Conan the Cimmerian and his adventures across the continent of Hyboria on a quest to avenge the murder of his father and the slaughter of his village.  Relentless and gory violence which they say is faithful to the original books, but also has shallow characters, dialogue, and acting.  Has a lot of unnecessary 3D effects.  Rated R in the US for strong bloody violence, some sexuality, and nudity.  Generally unfavorable reviews.  Probably in English everywhere and with a second version Thai-dubbed at Big C.

Hanna: 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.  Pattaya Beach only.

One Day: 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.  Critics say it’s nicely acted and has some interesting story twists.  I like the director Lone Scherfig, who did the marvelous An Education a while ago.  Mixed or average reviews.  At Pattaya Beach only.

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 – This is a reboot of the original Planet of the Apes film series:  Set in present day San Francisco, 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.

Using great advances in the performance-capturing technology pioneered in Avatar, this is the first time in which 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.  I thought the film thoroughly entertaining, and thought-provoking.  Also starring Freida Pinto and James Franco.  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: 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 contain a montage of particularly memorable deaths from prior films.  Rated R in the US for strong violent/ gruesome accidents, and some language – 18+ in Thailand.  Playing in 2D in English at Pattaya Beach, in 3D and English at Major, and in both 2D (English subtitles) and 3D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.  Mixed or average reviews.

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.

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 2D and Thai-dubbed at Big C.  Generally favorable reviews.

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.”

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.