Let’s go to the movies – Friday December 23 – December 29, 2011

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Now playing in Pattaya

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows: (Scheduled.) US, Action/ Adventure/ Crime/ Mystery/ Thriller – Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson join forces to outwit and bring down their fiercest adversary, Professor Moriarty.  Once again starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law.  

Face it, there’s no way there’s going to be a legitimate Holmes movie coming out these days.  Surely not when the 2009 film made so much money.  This sequel has just as many explosions, anachronisms, quick cuts, and all the rest of the attributes of an action movie.  But the dialogue is a little sharper and more refined, the action inventive, and at least Holmes gets a worthy opponent in Professor Moriarty.  It’s mostly enjoyable to watch due to its well-matched leading men.  Mixed or average reviews.

Arthur Christmas: (Scheduled.) UK/ US, Animation/ Comedy/ Drama/ Family – Reveals the incredible, never-before seen answer to every child’s question: “So how does Santa deliver all those presents in one night?”  The answer: Santa’s exhilarating, ultra-high-tech operation, hidden beneath the North Pole.  But at the center of the film is a story about a family in a state of comic dysfunction.  Well, that’s what it says here.  And the family is Santa’s!  Generally favorable reviews, saying mostly that it’s a clever and earnest holiday film with surprising emotional strength.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol: 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 popular series, again stars Tom Cruise.  From all I hear, it’s an exciting and intense action thriller, and of that type, well-done indeed.  A 2D film; apparently the Digital IMAX sections when shown in an IMAX cinema (in Bangkok only) are something to see, if only for its shots of the scaling of the Burj Dubai, now the world’s tallest building at 2,723 ft.  Tom Cruise is insisting that all the height-defying stunt work on the building was done by him personally.  In English, except Thai-dubbed at Big C.  Generally favorable reviews.

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 2D and English at Pattaya Beach, Digital 3D and English at Major, and Digital 3D and Thai-dubbed at Big C (as of Wednesday).

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 – all as of this last Wednesday.

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.  This film comes 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.

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.