Let’s go to the movies – Friday December 14 – December 20, 2012

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Now playing in Pattaya

Premium Rush: US, Action/ Thriller – A thoroughly delightful movie, even joyous, especially for people who have a soft spot in their heart for New York City.  Wilee (played winningly by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is one of 1,500 bike couriers in Manhattan, but he rides on the edge – he has a bike with no brakes.  On this day, Wilee has a delivery that’s so valuable that a corrupt NYC detective, who needs money, begins to chase him through the city to get it before the envelope is delivered.  Terrific stunts and special effects, and none more special than Gordon-Levitt’s captivating personality.

Generally favorable reviews, saying it’s built out of familiar parts but, no matter how formulaic the storyline might seem, it’s elevated by high-octane action and enjoyable performances.  A 2D film in English, playing only at Pattaya Beach.  I recommended it highly.

Cloud Atlas: Germany/ US/ Hong Kong/ Singapore, Drama/ Mystery/ Sci-Fi – Certainly you will not be bored by this film, as there are dazzling performances, solid directing, and tremendous energy and imagination.  But schedule yourself to see it twice, as it’s perhaps the most complicated film of recent years.  Critic Roger Ebert says surely this is one of the most ambitious films ever made. “But, oh, what a film this is! And what a demonstration of the magical, dreamlike qualities of the cinema.”  You will have to agree with that.

Written and directed by Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwerand, and Andy Wachowski, and starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent, Susan Sarandon, and Hugh Grant, all playing a variety of roles.  Rated R in the US for violence, language, sexuality/nudity, and some drug use; 18+ here.  Mixed or average reviews, saying its sprawling, ambitious blend of thought-provoking narrative and eye-catching visuals will prove too unwieldy for some, but the sheer size and scope are all but impossible to ignore.  I agree, and I think you will want to see this daring and visionary film.  As Roger Ebert predicts, “Anywhere you go where movie people gather, it will be discussed.  Deep theories will be proposed. Someone will say, ‘I don’t know what in the hell I saw.’  The names of Freud and Jung will come up.”

You will not want to miss out.  In English, playing only at Pattaya Beach.  It’s long. 172 minutes.  Like about three hours.  Prepare to either work hard, or relax and enjoy.

The Impossible: Spain, Action/ Drama/ Thriller – “One of the most emotionally realistic disaster movies in recent memory — and certainly one of the most frightening in its epic re-creation of the catastrophic 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.”  A husband and wife and their three sons begin their winter vacation in Thailand in 2004, looking forward to a few days in tropical paradise.  But on the morning of December 26th, as the family relaxes around the pool after their Christmas festivities the night before, a terrifying roar rises up from the center of the earth.  The wife freezes in fear as a huge wall of black water races across the hotel grounds toward her.  Thus starts the most harrowing disaster movie in many a moon, combining a tremendous feat of physical filmmaking with an emotional true story of family survival.

Stars Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor; directed by the Spanish Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage).  Early reviews: Generally favorable, saying it is wrenchingly acted, deftly manipulated, and terrifyingly well made.  “Part of the appeal of this affecting and powerful drama is that it puts the viewer right in the moment at every stage, using authentic locations and tsunami survivors to hammer home the reality of this tragedy.”  A 2D film (English) except Thai-dubbed at Big C.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey / The Hobbit: Part 1: US/ New Zealand, Adventure/ Fantasy – Acts as a prelude to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings book, in which Gandalf commissions Bilbo Baggins to join a group of Dwarves to fetch some lost treasure.  Along the way, they have awesome adventures, wouldn’t you know.  Generally favorable reviews, but grudgingly given, it seems to me.  And without enthusiasm.  Sort of like it’s rich fantasy, but boring.

Hotel Transylvania: US, Animation/ Comedy/ Family – The story of Dracula’s lavish five-stake hotel, where monsters and their families can live it up, free to be the monsters they are without humans to bother them.  This particular weekend, Dracula has as guests Frankenstein and his wife, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, a family of werewolves, and more – all to celebrate his daughter’s 118th birthday.  With the voice of the world’s most unfunny comic, Adam Sandler. (Well, of course that’s just my opinion.  Reports say he is less obnoxious than usual.)

From Genndy Tartakovsky and Sony Pictures Animation.  Mixed or average reviews, saying the proceedings have a buoyant, giddy tone which may please children, but might be a bit too loud and thinly-scripted for older audiences.  Shown as a 3D film (English) at Pattaya Beach and a 3D film (Thai-dubbed) at Big C; not playing at Major.

Rise of the Guardians 3D: US, Animation/ Adventure/ Family/ Fantasy – A magical adventure that tells the story of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, and Jack Frost – legendary characters with previously unknown extraordinary abilities, and hang-ups.  Has an all-star voice cast including Alec Baldwin, Jude Law, Hugh Jackman, and Chris Pine.  Mixed or average reviews, saying it’s wonderfully animated and briskly paced, and full of delight and action and charm and comedy, but only so-so in the storytelling department.  In 3D (English) at Pattaya Beach, 3D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C; not playing at Major.

Super Salary Man / Yod Manut Nguen Duen: Thai, Drama – The daily life of office workers who struggle to balance their personal lives with career goals.  In 2D (English subtitles) at all three locations.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2: US, Adventure/ Drama/ Fantasy/ Romance – I have to say that if you’re at all a fan of the series this will prove a very satisfactory conclusion indeed.  It rather brilliantly solves the problem of how to have a violent ending and a peaceful ending both at the same time.  The scenery is fabulous, the wolves amazing, and though I shouldn’t go so far as to say that the trees are more interesting than the actors, they are (at least pretty much).  Except for Michael Sheen, who once upon a time played Tony Blair so brilliantly, and who here plays the epitome of a behind-the-scenes wizard.  Acting like a grand diva, he gives an acting lesson on how to chew up scenery, how to go over the top.  Just delightful, and at one point he utters the most fantastical semi-human speech sound I’ve ever heard in a movie!

It’s a huge hit; after three weeks it’s already the second biggest film of the year in Thailand.  In this fifth film of the franchise, the existence of Bella and Edward’s child Renesmee has attracted the attention of the volatile Volturi, who seem to want nothing more than to take down the Cullen family and end their reign of looking fabulous in the sun.  Surely you know by now if this series is for you; trust your instincts.

Mixed or average reviews, saying though it might be the most enjoyable chapter in the series that won’t be enough to make the movie worth watching for those who don’t already count themselves fans.  One reviewer admitted, “The big action scene is so campily over the top – with one twist so unforeseeable – that it sent me out on a burst of grudging goodwill.”  A 2D film in English except Thai-dubbed at Big C.

Skyfall: US/ UK, Action/ Adventure/ Crime/ Thriller – This is a truly enjoyable film for me, and I think probably the best James Bond film of all time, offering a thought-provoking examination of why 007 endures as an on-screen legend.  Still a big hit in Thailand – the seventh most popular of the year.  Directed by Sam Mendes and starring Daniel Craig, Helen McCrory, and a fantastic Javier Bardem as a villain you won’t soon forget.

Reviews: Universal acclaim, saying that from the opening in Istanbul to the final siege shootout in the Scottish Highlands, the film is a fine and even sentimental spectacle, giving us an attractively human Bond.  A 2D film in English; no longer at Big C.

Red Dawn: US, Action – A group of teenagers look to save their town from an invasion of North Korean soldiers.  Generally unfavorable reviews, saying it lacks the topicality of the original 1984 semi-cult film, and although it features some decent action sequences, it gives a short shrift to character development and general logic.  “Could be fun, you might think.  No.  Bad acting and worse dialogue quickly put an end to that notion.”  Has bargain-bin special effects, along with bad acting and bad politics.  A 2D film (English), except Thai-dubbed at Big C.

3 A.M. 3D: Thai, Horror/ Thriller – A chiller set in the middle of the night, when, the film believes, ghosts come out.  Comprises three separate short stories of the spooky variety from three Thai directors.  Reports are they are scary indeed. In 3D (English subtitles) at Pattaya Beach; 2D (English subtitles) at Major; 2D (Thai only) at Big C.

Rak Jab Jai: Thai, Musical/ Romance – A film of the popular stage musical/ romance which played in Bangkok last summer.  A story about a superstar who falls for a blind girl, starring true-life Thai superstar Sukrit Wisetkaew (better known as Bie).  Purely a filmed stage production, in Thai only, and only at Major.