Let’s go to the movies – Friday May 4 – May 10, 2012

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Now playing in Pattaya

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).

Includes all (or maybe 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).  Early reviews: Generally favorable, saying it lives up to its hype with a script that never forgets its heroes’ humanity.  The film was converted to 3D during post-production.

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. But when he witnesses a frightened twelve-year-old Chinese girl, being pursued by the same gangsters who killed his wife, he impulsively jumps to action and straight into the heart of a deadly high-stakes war.  It’s the imposing Statham’s badass grimace and combat acumen that primarily elevate the film above your average direct-to-video genre work, with every flying punch and snapped wrist reconfirming the star’s status as this era’s Charles Bronson-style angel of righteous death.  Rated R in the US for strong violence throughout, and for language; 18+ here.  Mixed or average reviews.  In English; not at Big C.

Home: Thai, Comedy/ Drama – Viewers who were moved by the puppy-love relationship of the two boys in the world-wide Thai hit Love of Siam will appreciate the first story in this trio by the same director, an episode which is entirely a wide-ranging conversation between two boys as they wander lonely high school grounds at night while one of them shoots pictures of the deserted buildings.  A tentative wisp of a relationship begins to develop in fits and starts, with neither knowing where it’s headed.  A marvelous mood-piece, delicately told by director Chookiat Sakveerakul.  All three stories take place in and around his home town of Chiang Mai.  In one story you’ll be able to see firsthand what happens at a Thai wedding, perhaps leaving you puzzling at how strange are mankind’s courting rituals, with none so strange as those of Northern Thailand.  Certainly a worthwhile watch by one of the best of the Thai directors.  Rated 18+.  Not at Major.  With English subtitles.

Titanic: US, Adventure/ Drama/ History/ Romance – I’d still call this the one film in town to see.  It’s grand entertainment and I remain in a state of shock by the poor reception it’s gotten in Thailand.  I say: If you ever liked it, see it again in its 3D incarnation.  You’ll love it.  If you’ve never seen it, now’s your chance.  This is a film made to be seen on a big screen with a good sound system.  And it’s even better in 3D.  I can’t encourage you enough to go see it.

The 3D conversion is as good as it gets – much more than I had expected or had hoped for.  I agree with the majority of reviewers who say that, in this very rare case, the 3D technology improves on what is one of the greatest motion pictures ever made.  James Cameron’s epic creation shines, and the picture and sound conversion is a stunning achievement.  And those who are not moved to tears by the stories shown are those who are determined not to be, who have made that decision ahead of time.

Generally favorable reviews.  Showing in glorious 3D and sound to match at Pattaya Beach and Major.  See it while you can!

The Raven: US/ Hungary/ Spain, Mystery/ Thriller – When a madman begins committing horrific murders inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s works, a young detective joins forces with Poe to stop the lunatic from making his stories a reality.  With John Cusack, Alice Eve, and Luke Evans. Screenplay by Shakespeare*.  Rated R in the US for bloody violence and grisly images; 18+ here.  Mixed or average reviews. It’s a 2D film; only at Pattaya Beach.  *(Hannah Shakespeare, that is).

One for the Money: US, Action/ Comedy/ Crime/ Romance/ Thriller – From a mystery-comedy series of some 18 bestselling novels by Janet Evanovich about a female bounty-hunter and the crime scenes she gets involved in.  It’s a sort of romantic comedy for those starved for such, and as such it’s a pleasant enough way to dally for a few hours with your friends.  It’s gotten pretty poor reviews, but critics I think don’t take to comedies too well, because the world is demonstrably a grim place and so you shouldn’t laugh.  But if you want to escape from this unhealthy world for an hour and a half, well this will do nicely, thank you.  It’s not thoughtful or logical, but it’s not supposed to be.  Generally unfavorable reviews.  At Major only.

Battleship: US, Action/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – 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.  Early reviews: mixed or average.  There’s a short scene after the closing credits which brings tidings of the first sequel.  It’s a 2D film; at Big C it’s Thai-dubbed.

The Hunger Games: US, Action/ Drama/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – I found this to be tight, taut, creepy, exciting – and entertaining.  The story: every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the evil Capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games.  A twisted punishment for a past uprising and an ongoing government intimidation tactic, The Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which “Tributes” must fight with one another until one survivor remains.  Generally favorable reviews, saying that it’s thrilling and superbly acted, capturing the dramatic violence, raw emotion, and ambitious scope of its source novel.  Second film in the series already shooting.  A 2D film in English; playing only at Pattaya Beach, if at all.

Wrath of the Titans: US, Action/ Adventure/ Fantasy – Perseus braves the treacherous underworld to rescue his father, Zeus, captured by his son, Ares, and brother Hades, who unleash the ancient Titans upon the world.  A sequel to Clash of the Titans. Stars Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, and Rosamund Pike.  Generally unfavorable reviews, mostly saying that its 3D effects are an improvement over its predecessor’s, but in nearly every other respect, it fails to improve upon the stilted acting, wooden dialogue, and chaos-driven plot of the franchise’s first installment.  Shown in 3D (English) at Pattaya Beach, 2D (English) at Major, and 3D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C – as of the beginning of this week.

The Cold Light of Day: US, Action/ Thriller – After his family is kidnapped during their sailing trip in Spain, a young Wall Street trader is confronted by the people responsible: intelligence agents looking to recover a mysterious briefcase.  With Henry Cavill, Bruce Willis, and Sigourney Weaver.  This is a 2D film; generally negative reviews.  At Pattaya Beach only.

Plon Naya 2: Thai, Action/ Comedy – Poj Arnon at it again, continuing the farce of his 2004 bank-robbery film Spicy Beauty Queens in Bangkok.  Colorful transgender cabaret dancers robbed a bank to pay for sex-change operations, and now they’re back so the ringleader can finally get his change.  But before that can happen, the hospital is stormed by a radical student group.  English subtitles at all locations.