Let’s go to the movies – Friday December 16 – December 22, 2011

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Now playing in Pattaya

Happy Feet Two (3D):  Australia, Animation/ Comedy/ Family/ Music – The story once again revolves around the colony of Emperor Penguins in Antarctica, and especially around Mumble, the dancing penguin who’s now married and has a son.

Once again the character Mumble is drawn based on performance capture of the brilliant and street-smart tap dancer Savion Glover who’s style is absolutely unique.  I didn’t quite feel his presence here as I did so overwhelmingly in the first film.  Nevertheless the whole show is a joy, with much to recommend it in terms of music, dancing, and state-of-the-art 3D animation.

Mumble’s son has difficulty in finding his unique way of expressing himself, but when he finally finds his “song” it is truly unexpected, outrageous, and thrilling.  Added to the mix are two characters – Bill and Will Krill – who some feel are out of place and unnecessary, and others think are the best things in the film: two shrimp-like crustaceans at the extreme bottom of the food chain whose imminent fate of being eaten force them into an existential despair, and who philosophize on the bleakness of existence with all the poetry and angst of Samuel Beckett tramps.  Played with great style and comraderie by Brad Pitt and Matt Damon.  I loved them.

Mixed or average reviews, saying it’s too cluttered to have the charm of the original, but praise is generally given to the 3D use.  I say it’s a lot of fun.  In Digital 3D and English, except at Big C where there’s a 3D version that’s Thai-dubbed and a 2D version in English.

Immortals (2011): US, Action/ Drama/ Fantasy – With fantastical design and painterly images that are really quite beautiful (when not too dark to be seen), this film lacks any character development and has no emotional resonance for any of its characters.

Eons after the Gods won their mythic struggle against the Titans, a new evil threatens the land, the rise of power-mad King Hyperion, nicely played by Mickey Rourke.  King Hyperion has declared war against humanity. and has scorched Greece in search of the legendary Epirus Bow, a really nifty-looking semi-automatic bow-and-arrow weapon of unimaginable power forged in the heavens.

Rapid editing spoils most of the film for me; I can see how this might be a decent film, if completely re-edited.  Rated R in the US for sequences of strong bloody violence, and a scene of sexuality; 15+ here.  Mixed or average reviews.  In Digital 3D (English) and 2D (English) at Pattaya Beach; 2D (English) at Major;  2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol: (Scheduled.) US, Action/ Adventure/ Thriller – The IMF is shut down when it is implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin, causing Ethan Hunt and his new team to go rogue to clear their organization’s name.  This, the fourth film in the series, stars Tom Cruise.  Generally favorable reviews.

Twilight 4: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1: US, Adventure/ Drama/ Fantasy/ Romance – Not bad at all!  Once you accept the setup (and you might as well, or you’ll get nowhere and shouldn’t be watching) you’ll find it fairly strong, and with perhaps the most disturbing and horrendous pregnancy and childbirth since Rosemary’s Baby.

There is certainly some real juice to the film, and I did enjoy it.  The wedding night scene between Edward and Bella originally caused the film to receive an R rating, and the scene had to be re-edited to receive a PG-13 rating; so, it’s safe now, whew!

Part 2 is due next November, and I’m looking forward to it.  Mixed or average reviews.  In 2D only; English at Pattaya Beach and Major, Thai-dubbed at Big C. See it!  You may be pleasantly surprised.

Puss in Boots 3D: US, Adventure/ Animation/ Comedy/ Fantasy – An absolute delight!  Great animation, a lot of varied fun and songs and dance, and some of the best use of 3D I’ve seen.

Long before he met Shrek, the notorious fighter, lover, and outlaw Puss in Boots became a hero when he set off on an adventure with the tough and street-smart Kitty Softpaws and the mastermind Humpty Dumpty to save his town.  With brilliant vocal work by Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, and many other unsung artists.

Generally favorable reviews, saying it has an abundance of wit, visual sparkle, and effervescent charm, and I completely agree.  In Digital 3D and English; at Pattaya Beach only.

The Thing (2011): US/ Canada, Horror/ Mystery/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – A prelude to John Carpenter’s classic 1982 film of the same name: A paleontologist has traveled to a desolate region of Antarctica for the expedition of her lifetime. Joining a Norwegian scientific team that has stumbled across an extraterrestrial ship buried in the ice, she discovers an organism that seems to have died in the crash eons ago.  When a simple experiment frees the alien from its frozen prison, she must join the crew’s pilot to keep it from killing them off one at a time.

Rated R in the US for strong creature violence and gore, disturbing images, and language; 15+ in Thailand.  Mixed or average reviews.  In English with Thai subtitles; not at Big C.

In Time: US, Crime/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – I quite enjoyed this film.  It has one of the most intriguing premises of recent movies: In a future where time is literally money, and aging stops at 25, the only way to stay alive is to earn, steal, or inherit more time.  You need to stretch your beliefs a bit to swallow all this, but once you do you’re in for a fun and stylish ride with a bit of social commentary.

It’s a quietly angry picture – an extended metaphor for the way corporations suck the life from the poor and the not-quite-middle-class.  A young man (the ubiquitous and ever more excellent Justin Timberlake) lives life a minute at a time, until a windfall of time gives him access to the world of the wealthy, where he teams up with a beautiful young heiress to destroy the whole corrupt system.  An interesting style to it, and the art direction and cinematography are top notch.

Mixed or average reviews.  In English with Thai subtitles; not at Big C.

Tower Heist: US, Action/ Comedy/ Crime – Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Casey Affleck, Matthew Broderick, Alan Alda lead an all-star cast in a comedy caper about ordinary working guys who seek revenge on the Wall Street swindler who stiffed them in a Ponzi scheme.  I found it a fair low-key comedy with some amusing sequences and a touch of social commentary.  Should have been better, par for the course from director Brett Ratner, but it’s pleasant enough.

Mixed or average reviews.  Playing as of Wednesday; not at Big C.

30 Kam Lung Jaew: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – Now one of the top Thai films of the year, and still mighty popular.  Ja, a beautiful woman, has everything a woman is supposed to dream of having: a successful career, a partying lifestyle, and a handsome sweetheart.  On her 30th birthday, Ja finds her perfect life changed when her boyfriend wants to halt the relationship.  Now, at thirty-something, Ja accepts a happy single life until a new guy gets in her life – and he’s seven years younger than she is.  I’m led to believe it’s a charming tale.

Thai only; Major only, as of Wednesday.