Let’s go to the movies – Friday October 14 – October 20, 2011

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Now playing in Pattaya

Cars 2 3D: US, Animation/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family – Star race car Lightning McQueen and his pal Mater head overseas to compete in the World Grand Prix race.  But the road to the championship becomes rocky as Mater gets caught up in an intriguing adventure of his own: international espionage.  As visually appealing as any other Pixar production, but the story for most is not that great.  I found it good fun.  Mixed or average reviews.  In 3D at Pattaya Beach, 2D at Major, and 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.

Contagion: (Scheduled) US, Drama/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – Strange: I found this a poor film with some very good things in it.  It should have been a very scary movie, playing upon and clarifying some basic terrors currently active in our society.  But despite the intensity of the individual scenes it didn’t add up to much of an impact for me, because it was too diffuse.  Too many individual stories, each only briefly told.  No single compelling point of view.  Generally favorable reviews.

Soon after her return from a business trip to Hong Kong, a woman (Gwyneth Paltrow) dies from what looks like flu or something similar.  Her young son dies a few days later.  Her husband (Matt Damon in a small but crucial role, played wonderfully) seems immune.  Thus begins the spread of a deadly infection.  For doctors and administrators at the US Center for Disease Control, several days pass before anyone realizes the extent or gravity of this new infection.  They must first identify the type of virus in question and then find a means of combating it, a process that will likely take several months.  As the contagion spreads to millions of people worldwide, societal order begins to break down as people panic.  A large and impressive cast, including Jude Law – disturbing in a strangely written part of a blogger with too many cross-currents to be believable; Laurence Fishburne – playing an ineffectual character far removed from his usual persona; and Marion Cotillard, Elliott Gould, Kate Winslet, many others.

The Three Musketeers 3D: Germany/ France/ UK/ US, Action/ Adventure/ Romance – The hot-headed young D’Artagnan along with three former legendary but now down-on-their-luck Musketeers must unite and defeat a beautiful double agent and her villainous employer from seizing the French throne and engulfing Europe in war.  An action-filled re-imagining of the Alexandre Dumas classic that I found thoroughly enjoyable in all respects – the photography, the location shooting, the costumes, the acting, the action, the script.  All really quite superior.  Christoph Waltz plays the villainous Cardinal Richelieu, Orlando Bloom plays a duplicitous Buckingham always full of surprises, and the delightful Logan Lerman plays D’Artagnan.  No reviews: not to be released in the real world until October 13.  In 3D at all three locations; Thai-dubbed at Big C.

Friends with Benefits: US, Comedy/ Romance – While trying to avoid the clichés of Hollywood romantic comedies, Dylan (Justin Timberlake) and Jamie (Mila Kunis) soon discover that adding the act of sex to their friendship really does lead to complications.  The chemistry between the two leads is excellent, and I found it enjoyable.  If you really need to see a Rom-Com, you could do much worse than this.  Rated R in the US for some violent content and brief sexuality; 18+ in Thailand.  Generally favorable reviews.  Pattaya Beach only.

I Don’t Know How She Does It: US, Comedy – A comedy centered on the life of a finance executive who is the breadwinner for her husband and two kids.  Sarah Jessica Parker vehicle.  Generally unfavorable reviews.  Major only.

Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World: (Scheduled) US, Action/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family/ Sci-Fi – A retired spy is called back into action, and to bond with her new step-children, she invites them along on an adventure to stop the evil Timekeeper from taking over the world.  Jessica Alba stars.  Generally unfavorable reviews, most saying the series has fallen off sharply.

The Smurfs: (Scheduled) US, Animation/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family/ Fantasy – The little blue people too cute for words have a New York City adventure in a half-animated format; Neil Patrick Harris is the main human character.  Generally unfavorable reviews.

Doraemon: Nobita and the New Steel Troops: Angel Wings: (Still scheduled) Japan, Animation – A Doraemon anime film is released nearly once a year in Japan – about 24 of them now – and is always ecstatically received.  This year, for the first time, the release is in 3D as well as 2D.  It’s actually a remake of the 1986 Doraemon movie of nearly the same name.  Doraemon, for those not in the know, is an earless robotic cat, and beloved by almost everyone in Japan.  Here he helps his pals battle an incoming alien robot army, set to conquer planet Earth and enslave the human inhabitants.

Love Summer: Rak Talon on the Beach: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – A group of teenagers meet by chance, become friends, and fall in love in typical Thai teen fashion.  Except that one of the female leads is Japanese, just to add a touch of exoticism.  And not only Japanese, but a well-known “adult” performer in films there.  English subtitles at all locations.

The Sorcerer and the White Snake: China/ Hong Kong, Action/ Fantasy – Jet Li in a Chinese fable about the forbidden romance between a simple, kind-hearted man and a snake demon who takes the form of a beautiful woman.  It’s set in a fantasy world of striking beauty where both humans and demons exist, with the demons deceptively taking on human form.  Not at Major, Thai-dubbed only.

Friday Killer: Thai, Action/ Drama – A professional hit-man (veteran comedian Thep Po-ngam ) is set free from prison with failing eyesight, and learns for the first time that he has a daughter.  Turns out she’s a tough policewoman, and out to get him.  First in the series but second to be released of Yuthlert Sippapak’s films pitting well-known comedians against young starlets.  Rated 18+.  English subtitles at all locations.

Johnny English Reborn: US/ France/ UK, Comedy – Rowan Atkinson returns to the role of the most unlikely intelligence officer in Her Majesty’s Secret Service, where he must stop a group of international assassins before they eliminate a world leader and cause global chaos.  He is in truth a very funny man, and you’ll be surprised to find out how much you’re laughing uncontrollably.  Mixed or average reviews – some people aren’t moved by his brand of humor.  Thai-dubbed at Big C; English elsewhere.

Abduction: US, Action/ Drama/ Mystery/ Thriller – It isn’t all that bad.  I promised myself I wouldn’t see it, but I did.  It’s ridiculous and a sort of huge crochet-work of plot holes, but it has some fun in it for all that.  The point of the whole enterprise is to let hunk of all hunks Taylor Lautner strut his stuff – and strut it he does.  No, not a terrific actor yet, but for the most part passable.  It’s the story of a young man who has the uneasy feeling that he’s living someone else’s life.  When he stumbles upon an image of himself as a little boy on a missing persons website, all of his fears come true: he realizes his parents are not his own and his life is a lie.  Passable turns by Sigourney Weaver and Alfred Molina.  Generally unfavorable reviews (and at the low end of that category).  Thai-dubbed at Big C.

Apollo 18: US, Horror/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – Decades-old found footage from NASA’s abandoned Apollo 18 mission, where two American astronauts were sent on a secret expedition, reveals the reason the US has never returned to the moon. Basically The Blair Witch in outer space, with an ultra-low budget.  Spanish director Gonzalo López-Gallego makes his English-language feature debut.  Generally unfavorable reviews – even lower than “Abduction”.  Now at Pattaya Beach only, if at all.

Shark Night 3D: US, Horror/ Thriller – A weekend at a lake house in the Louisiana Gulf turns into a nightmare for seven vacationers as they are subjected to fresh-water shark attacks.  Some truly unsavory characters.  Generally unfavorable reviews.  Only 2D now, and only at Pattaya Beach, if at all.

Luer Lae / Folk Songs Forever: Thai, Comedy/ Musical – Veteran comic Note Chernyim collaborated with fellow comedian Yong Chernyim in this comedy aimed at raising awareness of folk music among a new generation, urging them to preserve it for future generations.  The story is of a three-man band, all of whom are crazy about ska music and hope to become famous.  After troubles that force them to disband, the three wander into a village where folk music is still being preserved.  Major only.