Let’s go to the movies – Friday July 6 – July 12, 2012

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Now playing in Pattaya

The Amazing Spider-Man: US, Action/ Adventure/ Fantasy/ Thriller – Playing everywhere in concentrated overkill, this is expected by all concerned to be the next super-big movie hit.  I think it may well be – with saturation like this, how could it not be?  I think it’s good, with some fine work in it, an intelligible story, fine special effects, the 3D used to extraordinarily good effect.  And Andrew Garfield makes a tremendously appealing hero.  That said, I was irritated by the music, and I thought the 3D came across as way too dark.  Since I haven’t read of any complaints about the film being too dark, I can only assume that it was the fault of the particular projectionist when I saw it – a common occurrence, unfortunately.  

This time Peter Parker is played by the quite amazing Andrew Garfield (The Social Network).  Although he’s hilariously too old to be in high school, he pulls it off.  He’s an outcast who was abandoned by his parents as a boy, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field).  Like most teenagers, Peter is trying to figure out who he is and how he got to be the person he is today.  As Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents’ disappearance – leading him directly to the lab of his father’s former partner, a true villain whose alter-ego is The Lizard.  Generally favorable reviews.  In 3D (English) and 2D (English) at Pattaya Beach and Major; 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: (Scheduled) US, Action/ Fantasy/ Horror/ Thriller – A film that explores the secret life of one of the greatest presidents of the US, and the untold story that shaped the country.  Visionary filmmakers Tim Burton and the well-known and knowledgeable vampire director Timur Bekmambetov (director of Wanted and the Night Watch/ Day Watch vampire studies) bring a fresh and visceral voice to the bloodthirsty lore of the vampire, imagining Lincoln as history’s greatest hunter of the undead.  Starring Benjamin Walker (as Lincoln), Rufus Sewell, and Dominic Cooper.  Mixed or average reviews, saying generally that it has superb visual style, but the mashup of genres don’t jell in a completely coherent way, so that the result is not entirely satisfying.  Rated R in the US for violence throughout and brief sexuality; 18+ in Thailand.

The Vow: US, Drama/ Romance – If you like chick flicks and rom-coms this is for you.  But It’s quite watchable – the kind of movie you can simultaneously snort at and enjoy.  Leo (Channing Tatum) and Paige (Rachel McAdams) have been happily married for 4 years. Then – they’re in a car accident.  They eventually come out fine physically, but Paige has completely lost her memory of the previous years – including meeting Leo, and falling in love and marrying him.  Leo is determined to help her regain her memory but her nasty parents (Sam Neill and Jessica Lange) don’t like him and want her to live with them and let Leo go.  Mixed or average reviews, the majority praising the chemistry of the two stars.  At Pattaya Beach only.

Chernobyl Diaries: US, Horror – This low budget horror film is about six vacationers who hire an “extreme” guide to tour the site of a nuclear reactor disaster in a deserted town near Chernobyl.  What starts out as a peaceful trip full of picture taking and jokes soon takes a turn for the worst.  It seems that Chernobyl is not as abandoned as they think and soon the nightmare within decides to hunt the kids through the destroyed city.  The film was written and produced by Oren Peli (the creator of the original Paranormal Activity) and directed by first time director Bradley Parker on a budget of just $1 million.  Generally unfavorable reviews, such as “there is no good reason why anyone should ever watch this movie!”  Some strongly object to the making of monsters out of the victims of the disaster.  Rated R in the US for violence, some bloody images, and pervasive language.  At Pattaya Beach only.

Prometheus: US, Action/ Horror/ Sci-Fi – An exceptionally well-done science-fiction film with a lot to think about amidst all the action.  A satisfying movie experience, which I think really should be seen in 3D – unfortunately  it’s no longer shown in 3D in Pattaya, and that’s a true shame.

It’s the story of a team of explorers who discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe.  Directed by Ridley Scott, director of Alien and Blade Runner, who with this film returns to the genre he helped define.  For me, many references to 2001: A Space Odyssey – including a walking, talking, joking HAL 9000 robot.  And he’s got his own personal issues to work out (again!).  Fine performances by Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, and Michael Fassbender (as the robot).  Rated R in the US for sci-fi violence including some intense images, and brief language; 15+ in Thailand.  Generally favorable reviews, but I think it’s much better than that.  I’d say it’s not to be missed, and (warning!) since it’s not doing too well at the Thailand box office, time to see it is limited.  In 2D (English) at Pattaya Beach and Major; 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C – at least as of last Wednesday.

Snow White and the Huntsman: US, Action/ Comedy/ Sci-Fi – I saw the regular 2D version, and thought it a fantastically beautiful film with superb art direction and a fully realized story.  It’s the old tale intact, with every moment, every twist and turn, given full due.  Visually and aurally it is without peer.  Probably you won’t love it much if you have an objection to fairy tales, but for me it is one of the most exciting and satisfying films I’ve seen in some time.  Seemed a never-ending dark feast of surprise after surprise, delight after delight, imaginative horror after bloody evil.  One could talk much about the excellent and imaginative costuming and art direction, and music/sound design.  It all ends in a truly huge battle, unexpected in magnitude and ferocity.  All in all, just a very well-done film.

Starring Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, and Charlize Theron; directed by Rupert Sanders, a well-regarded creator of commercials, making his feature film debut.  Mixed or average reviews, but I recommend it highly.  Now in regular 2D only, in English, only at Pattaya Beach and Major.

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted: US, Animation/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family – The Madagascar team of regulars – Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Gloria the Hippo, and Melman the Giraffe – are still fighting to get home to their beloved Big Apple.  Their journey takes them through Europe where they find the perfect cover: a traveling circus, which they reinvent – Madagascar style.  Mixed or average reviews, which call it bright and breezy with fast pacing, bright colors, dazzling circus acts, a vigorous villain, and some new characters.  Now in 3D (English) at Pattaya Beach; 3D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.

Antapal (Hoodlum) / Gangster: Thai, Action/ Drama – A gritty action film on the exploits of Thai gangsters in the 1950s, starring the excellent Krissada “Noi” Sukosol Clapp as one of young hoodlums who take on the old-time mafia to shake up the Thai underworld.  They then find themselves challenged by a pair of even younger hoodlums who are obsessed with the lifestyle of James Dean.

Directed by Kongkiat Khomsiri, it’s based on a true story about a Bangkokian Mafia that was formed during a time of social and cultural upheaval in Thailand.  Young people were listening to Elvis and aspiring to be like James Dean, breaking down cultural norms and, in the case of the men at the center of this film, breaking the law with a wild disregard for anything in their way.  Rated 18+.  With English subtitles at all locations.

Men in Black III: US, Action/ Comedy/ Sci-Fi – I enjoyed this – the writers and director and actors were having fun with the story, and the fun was infectious.  There’s a truly enjoyable chemistry between Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith, and as things develop in the story, the same chemistry works just as well between Smith and a younger version of Jones, played by Josh Brolin.  Mixed or average reviews, saying it does justice to the fun and whimsy of the original, and gives a surprisingly emotional insight into the characters; it’s a solid creature-feature filled with memorable performances and remarkable visual effects.  Now only at Major, in 2D (English).

Piranha 3DD: US, Action/ Comedy/ Sci-Fi – The “DD” in the title refers to the cup size of women’s bras, so you can tell what the movie is fixated on.  It’s a horror-comedy sequel to the 2010 film Piranha 3D and Ving Rhames and Christopher Lloyd reprise their roles from the first film.  Generally unfavorable reviews, with many objecting to the film’s basic premise that women’s breasts are for the viewing pleasure of other people, and nothing else.  No longer shown in 3D; now only at Pattaya Beach, if at all; in English.  Seems it’s now rated 18+ (down from 20+).