Let’s go to the movies – Friday December 30 – January 5, 2012

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Now playing in Pattaya

The Adventures of Tintin: (Scheduled.) US/ New Zealand, Animation/ Action/ Adventure/ Family/ Mystery – Based on the series of classic comic books created by Belgian artist Georges Remi, who wrote under the pen name of Hergé.  The series is one of the most popular European comics of the 20th century, with translations published in more than 50 languages and more than 200 million copies of the books sold.   Steven Spielberg, as director and producer, has crafted another spirited, thrilling adventure.  The intrepid young reporter Tintin discovers directions to a sunken ship commanded by an ancestor of the brash and cynical Captain Haddock, and the two go off on a treasure hunt.  Generally favorable reviews.

Real Steel: (Scheduled.) US/ India, Action/ Drama/ Sci-Fi/ Sport – A future-set story where robot boxing is a popular sport.  A struggling promoter feels he’s found a champion in a discarded robot.  During his hopeful rise to the top, he discovers he has an 11-year-old son (Dakota Goyo) who wants to know his father.  Starring Hugh Jackman.  Thrilling and exciting action, so I’m told.  Mixed or average reviews.

New Year’s Eve: (Scheduled.) US, Comedy/ Romance – A film which had hopes of celebrating love, forgiveness, second chances, and fresh starts, in intertwining stories told amidst the pulse and promise of New York City on the most frenetic night of the year.  Starring Ashton Kutcher, Jessica Biel, and Sarah Jessica Parker.  Generally unfavorable reviews, calling it such things as shallow, sappy, and dull.

50/50: US, Comedy/ Drama – Terrific movie, and I enthusiastically recommend it.  It’s good-hearted and without a chase in it for a change, about a difficult topic that’s funny and sad and beautifully acted.  A 27 year old writer of radio programs is diagnosed with a rare form of spinal cancer.  With the help of his best friend, his mother, and a young therapist at the cancer center, he learns what and who the most important things in his life are.  Inspired by a true story. Stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, and Anna Kendrick.  Rated R in the US for language throughout, sexual content, and some drug use; 18+ here.  Generally favorable reviews.  At Pattaya Beach only.  By far one of the best films around.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows: 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.  In forty or eighty years from now when the confusingly edited action sequences in all our current films will be re-edited, as surely they must, this will turn out to be a wholly delightful film.  Mixed or average reviews.  In English everywhere, and Big C has a Thai-dubbed version as well.

The Kick / Won Don Tae: Thailand/ South Korea, Action/ Adventure/ Thriller – A South Korean-Thai co-production about a Korean family in Bangkok who join with a pair of Thai friends to battle gangsters.  Mom and Pop, former Korean Taekwondo champs, settle down in Thailand and open a Korean restaurant and Taekwondo school.  Their three kids, though, are interested in different things; the teenage boy is crazy about K-pop, the girl loves football and Thai dance, and only the youngest boy shows any interest in Taekwondo.  Soon the family makes friends with Mum Jokmok – who else? – and his niece, a talented Muay Thai boxer, played by Thailand’s favorite female fighter, Jeeja Yanin.  Everything changes when the family and their friends become involved with Korean mobsters who’ve stolen some ancient daggers.  Directed by Prachya Pinkaew.  English subtitles everywhere, except Thai-only at Big C.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol: US, Action/ Adventure/ Thriller –– I found this to be an exciting and intense action thriller, and of that kind of thing, very well done indeed.  This, the fourth film in the popular series, again stars Tom Cruise, and he still exhibits his undeniable star-quality.  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.  It’s a 2D film, with some parts filmed in super high-definition Digital IMAX.  When shown in an IMAX cinema (in Bangkok only) these sections are reputedly really something to see, with the high point being 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.  Even without an IMAX projector, the high definition of these scenes are impressive and spectacular.  But the whole film is a lot of fun.  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.  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.  I say it’s a lot of fun.  In 2D and English at Pattaya Beach, Digital 3D and English at Major.  No longer 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.  Rapid editing spoils most of the film for me; I can see how this might be a decent film, if completely re-edited, as surely someone will do, sometime in the future.  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) 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. 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 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.