Let’s go to the movies – Friday October 12 – October 18, 2012

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Now playing in Pattaya

Yak: The Giant King: Thai, Animation/ Adventure – Thoroughly delightful Thai animated film loosely based on the Ramayana epic, told through the adventures of a couple of tin robots.  

Another large step forward for Thai animation.  It’s from a highly successful pop-oriented producing company famous for fashioning numerous hit TV series that are usually derided by critics – shows like “Thailand’s Got Talent.”  But Prapas Cholsaranon – one of the chief creative geniuses of the company – is a sort of Renaissance man who writes fiction and non-fiction, composes songs, directs plays, and has a definite vision for Thai pop culture.  He is one of the two driving forces behind this film, the other being the chief animator, Chaiyaporn Panichrutiwong, trained at US animation studios, and the chief draftsman of the film.  One can only wish them and the studio the best of luck with this innovative and distinctly Thai film.  It’s a 2D film, in Thai, with English subtitles, except Thai only at Big C.

Finding Nemo 3D: Australia/ US, Animation/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family – The brilliant Pixar film, Academy Award winner in 2004 for best animated feature, updated with 3D and refurbished sound.  Critics say the new sound and 3D simply adds to the greatness that is Nemo.  Original 2003 reviews: Universal acclaim.  In 3D (English) and only at Pattaya Beach.  Another chance to see a classic as it was meant to be seen.  A funny and touching story, superb visuals, wonderful characters.  See it!

Looper: (Scheduled) US, Action/ Sci-Fi – A much anticipated Sci-Fi movie starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a mob hitman who assassinates targets that arrive from the future.  For him it’s just a job … till a new target he receives turns out to be himself from the future.

End of Watch: US, Crime/ Drama/ Mystery/ Thriller – I think probably the best cop-buddy film I’ve seen.  And it’s much more – could be considered a sociological study, raising questions about the shaky structure of society and the pros and cons of even having law enforcement.  It’s my upbringing for sure, but I truly felt assaulted by the language – there were stretches of dialogue in which 99% of the words were profanity – for a total of 325 uses of the “f” word, nearly 100 uses of the “s” word, and scads of other obscenities, vulgarities, profanities, and epithets, in English and Spanish.

Stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña, giving outstanding performances.  Rated R in the US for strong violence, some disturbing images, pervasive language including sexual references, and some drug use; 18+ here.  Generally favorable reviews, saying that thanks to its energy, devotion to characters, and charismatic performances, End of Watch overcomes the familiar pitfalls of both its genre and its handheld format to become a fresh and exciting thriller.  David Ayer’s latest cop-drama is gritty, violent, and full of perfect moments of flawlessly recreated reality.

In 2D (English) at Pattaya Beach and Major; not playing at Big C.  If you can get past the language, I recommend it.

Taken 2: France, Action/ Crime/ Drama/ Thriller – Liam Neeson returns as a retired CIA agent who stops at nothing to save his daughter from Albanian kidnappers.

Directed by Olivier Megaton (Colombiana), it’s a sequel to the 2008 film of the same name. Mixed or average reviews, saying it’s largely bereft of the kinetic thrills and surprises that made the original a hit.  A cynical, contemptuous film whose sole reason for existing appears to be to squeeze the pockets of anyone who enjoyed the first movie.  Those seemingly in the know claim that the fine film this was, originally, mostly lies on the cutting room floor, as the filmmakers tried for a less restrictive rating and broader audience.

In 2D (English) at all locations, with Big C showing another regular 2D version (Thai-dubbed). .

Stolen: US, Action/ Thriller – A former thief (Nicolas Cage) frantically searches for his missing daughter, who has been kidnapped and locked in the trunk of a taxi.  Rated R in the US for some violence and brief language. Directed by Simon West (The Expendables 2).

Early reviews: generally negative, saying that the longest stretch of logical plotting lasts about forty seconds, and the deep-rooted silliness makes it hard to take anything in the film seriously.

In 2D (English) at Pattaya Beach and Major; 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.

Savages: US, Crime/ Drama/ Thriller – I found this a most unpleasant experience in almost every way possible.  Two pot growers face off against a Mexican drug cartel that kidnapped the girlfriend they share.

Directed by Oliver Stone and starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, and Blake Lively.  Most of the secondary acting is well-done – particularly Benicio Del Toro, who gives a performance of such terrifying viciousness that he is unwatchable.  Having seen it again, I am amazed at not only the intensity of the viciousness of Del Toro’s character, but also the depth and fullness of the character.

However, the three main characters give banal pot-headed performances, most often speaking boring dialogue that grates on the nerves and never gives us any reason to care what happens to them.  It’s a vicious, vacuous, bloody story told like an adolescent out to gleefully shock by publicly splashing around in pools of blood – yes, I mean the revered Oliver Stone.

Rated R in the US for strong brutal and grisly violence, some graphic sexuality, nudity, drug use, and language throughout; 18+ here.  Mixed or average reviews.  In 2D (English) at Pattaya Beach only.

Dredd 3D: US/ UK/ India, Action/ Sci-Fi – This film portrays the future America as an irradiated waste land. On its East Coast, running from Boston to Washington DC, lies a vast, violent metropolis where criminals rule the chaotic streets.  The only force of order lies with the urban cops called “Judges” who possess the combined powers of judge, jury, and instant executioner.  Known and feared throughout the city, Dredd is the ultimate Judge, challenged with ridding the city of its latest scourge – a dangerous drug known as “Slo-Mo” which causes users to experience reality at a fraction of its normal speed.

Rated R in the US for strong bloody violence, language, drug use, and some sexual content; 18+ in Thailand.  Mixed or average reviews.  Now shown in 2D (English) at Pattaya Beach and Major; and 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.

I loved the art direction and scene design here, which I thought extraordinary.  I truly enjoyed the experiments in slow-motion photography; there were some really exceptionally beautiful sequences.  But not the ripping apart of human bodies; not the splattering of blood.  It was too much.  That, I really believe, should be censored.

Bait: Australia, Action/ Horror/ Thriller – It’s your average “trapped in a supermarket with a shark” movie.  Yes, believe it or not a group of people get trapped in a supermarket after a tsunami hits the coast of Queensland, Australia, and soon find out that there’s a 12 foot shark that’s been washed into the basement, and it’s hungry.

Rated R in the US for bloody violence, some grisly images, and language; 18+ here.  Mixed or average reviews (Rotten Tomatoes) – “a shark tale that’s poorly executed yet charmingly absurd.”  Shown in 2D (English) at Pattaya Beach; 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C; not at Major.

Fighting Fish / Du Duan Dib: Thai, Action/ Drama – Ultra-violent Thai underground boxing movie, showing the kind of fighting club, here called the “Fighting Fish,” where the loser usually dies.  A French boxer and his Thai friend get mixed up in the politics and violence of the boxing underworld, and try to stay alive.  It’s the first film directed by former pin-up model and sexy video star “Ying” Julaluck Ismalone.  At Big C only; with English subtitles.

Resident Evil 5: Retribution: Germany/ Canada, Action/ Horror/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – Still the most popular movie in town. I saw it in 2D and I think the settings are superb, and the visuals in general at the cutting edge of filmmaking.  Other than that, it’s basically just action, with a minimum of story and character.  If you enjoyed the previous films, especially Resident Evil 4, you should enjoy this, and the next one yet to come, as they are simply more of the same.  Only with ever-better graphics.

Silly and empty-headed it is indeed, and you will shake your head in disbelief at what you’re asked to swallow.  However, there are stretches where the movie craft lulls you into a mesmerizing half-trance in which the succession of fantastic and imaginative images can be a rather enjoyable experience.

I don’t know exactly why the violence in this film – like the X-ray visions of bones breaking and hearts exploding – doesn’t bother me the way the violence in Dredd and Savages does, but maybe it’s because here it’s so over the top that it’s distanced somehow, while in the other two films the violence is up close and personal, and terribly convincing..

Rated R in the US for sequences of strong violence throughout.  Generally unfavorable reviews.  Shown now only in 2D, in English at Pattaya Beach and Major, Thai-dubbed at Big C.