Let’s go to the movies – Friday May 18 – May 24, 2012

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Now playing in Pattaya

The Cabin in the Woods: US, Horror/ Thriller – A remarkably complicated and richly-layered play on the whole of the horror film literature.  Already there’s a fair-sized cult following, and for them and all of us there’s a beautiful and informative 176-page guide to the film which illustrates all of the film’s possibilities, and which contains the entire script as well as explanatory essays. 

Five teenagers head off for a weekend at a secluded cabin in the woods, as per usual.  They arrive to find they are quite isolated with no means of communicating with the outside world.  Per usual.  When the cellar door flings itself open, they of course go down to investigate.  They find an odd assortment of relics and curios, and when one of the women reads from a book she awakens a family of deadly zombie killers.  Then the film really takes off into numerous horror universes.  There’s far more going on than meets the eye – because the five campers are all under observation.

Written and produced by Joss Whedon, who wrote and directed the current The Avengers as well.  Strangely, the film was completed in 2009 and has been withheld since then.  One commentator says it got trapped in the studio vault when MGM went bankrupt, and got lost in the shuffle.

Rated R in the US for strong bloody horror violence and gore, language, drug use, and some sexuality/nudity; 18+ here.  Definitely not a movie for children, nor the squeamish or faint of heart.  Generally favorable reviews, which praise it as an astonishing meta-feat, capable of being funny, strange, and scary — frequently all at the same time.  It’s been described as “a final exam” for fans of the horror genre in the guise of a puzzle.  In 2D and English, except Thai-dubbed at Big C.

Dark Shadows: US, Comedy/ Fantasy – A gothic-horror tale centering on the life of a vampire (played by Johnny Depp) and his run-ins with various monsters, witches, werewolves, and ghosts; a reworking of the TV shows which ran from 1966 to 1971.

Mixed or average reviews, saying director Tim Burton, as usual, is great on atmosphere and comic timing (these are his weirdest moments since Ed Wood), but less so at reining in an overcomplicated plot and dimly lit action scenes.  And as a result, Dark Shadows is a mess, unclear whether its bizarre recipe of comedy, campy horror, and gothic melodrama will satisfy anyone, regardless of their familiarity with the source material. However, the clownish vampire with unique hairdo and blood dripping from his chin is a great role for the chameleon Johnny Depp.

You don’t have to know the 60’s afternoon soap to fall for this funny pop confection, but you do need to appreciate its light, spoofy tone.  If you do, you might find it a ghoulish joy.  2D and English everywhere (Digital at Major).

American Pie: Reunion: US, Comedy/ Raunch – All the American Pie characters we met a little more than a decade ago are returning to East Great Falls for their high-school reunion.  In one long weekend they will discover what has changed, who hasn’t, and that time and distance can’t break the bonds of what they call friendship.  And to think it all started in the summer of 1999 when four small-town Michigan boys began a quest to lose their virginity.  Now they reminisce about – and get inspired by – the memories of their hormonal teen selves, who once upon a time launched a disgusting comedy legend.  Have they grown up?  What do you think?

Rated R in the US for crude and sexual content throughout, nudity, language, brief drug use, and teen drinking; 18+ in Thailand.  Mixed or average reviews, saying in general that it will provide sweetly nostalgic comfort food for fans of the franchise, but fails to do anything truly new or interesting — or even very funny — with the characters.  2D and English; not at Big C.

Marvel’s The Avengers 3D: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi – Marvel Comics brings its greatest superheroes together in this film, hoping they’ll be enough to smash the evil super-villain Loki (and attract you to the cinema by strength of sheer numbers).  Looks like their strategy is working, as the film had the biggest opening in the world ever, and in Thailand as well.  Already it’s made as much in one week here as the previous super-hit Battleship made in four.

Loki is a really terrific villain in my mind, the very role-model a kid needs who wants to turn out evil.  Deliciously evil, and frightening!  Generally favorable reviews, saying the film lives up to its hype with a script that never forgets its heroes’ humanity.  And that there aren’t many writer-directors around as talented as Joss Whedon.  That indeed it’s the writing that sets this film apart from the crowd, in harmony with perfect casting, first-rate visual effects, and other key ingredients.

The heroes include most of your favorites: Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), The Incredible Hulk (Bruce Banner), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson).  It’s a well-nigh perfect comic-book movie, and if you were ever a fan, you’ll love it.

The film was converted to 3D during post-production, and along with most reviewers I think that it’s quite well done.  Nevertheless, the things that are really good about this film are not related to 3D – things like the dialogue.  You remember dialogue?  People talking to each other.  Shown in 3D and 2D at Pattaya Beach, 2D at Major, and 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.

Note: Following tradition, there’s an extra scene during the ending credits (apparently two scenes in other parts of the world) which allows everyone to puzzle out what the next film will be like.

Battleship: US, Action/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – A true blockbuster in Thailand, raking in much money for three weeks as number one at the Thai box office, finally replaced this last week by the even bigger blockbuster, The Avengers.  A fleet of ships is forced to do battle with an armada of unknown origins in order to discover and thwart their destructive goals.  It’s based on the Hasbro classic naval combat game.  Just as the Hasbro game Transformers brought those toys to the screen, so this time the popular board game is realized onscreen, with hopes that you will want to see sequel after sequel.  Stars Liam Neeson and the star of John Carter, Taylor Kitsch. Viewers who fancy lots of pyrotechnics will have their money’s worth here – the flying yoyos are particularly spectacular – and on that level you can find it fun.  Really though, it’s a terrible movie – you have to get past that.  Nice nostalgia for Navy vets during a conclusion so far off the boards you can only shake your heads and go with it.  This section pulls a lot of emotional strings, quite successfully.  Early reviews: mixed or average – the film has not yet opened in the US.  It’s a 2D film; at Big C it’s Thai-dubbed.

Chob Kod Like Chai Kod Love: Thai, Drama/ Romance – They describe it this way: “A romantic story of a perfect guy who lacks courage to approach girls, a new flight attendant who has high standard for boys, and two friends who make a living by setting up a love confession business on the internet.”  Directed by Pakpoom Wongjinda, known so far for horror flicks (Scared).  Not at Major; in Thai only at Pattaya Beach; in Thai with English subtitles at Big C.

Lockout: France, Action/ Thriller/ Sci-Fi – From French writer-producer Luc Besson, another actioner.  A man wrongly convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage against the U.S. is offered his freedom if he can rescue the president’s daughter from an outer space prison taken over by violent inmates.  Stars Guy Pearce.  Rated 18+ in Thailand for intense sequences of violence and action, and language, including some sexual references; only PG 13 in the US.  Mixed or average reviews.  In English, except Thai-dubbed at Big C.

Safe: US, Action/ Crime/ Thriller – Stars Jason Statham as a second-rate cage fighter on the mixed martial arts circuit, who lives a numbing life of routine beatings until the day he blows a rigged fight.  Wanting to make an example of him, the Russian Mafia murders his family and banishes him from his life forever, leaving him to wander the streets of New York tormented by the knowledge that he will always be watched, and anyone he develops a relationship with will also be killed.  It’s the imposing Statham’s combat skills that primarily elevates the film above your average direct-to-video genre work.  Rated R in the US for strong violence throughout, and for language; 18+ here.  Mixed or average reviews.  In English; now playing only at Pattaya Beach, if at all.