Let’s go to the movies – Friday October 21 – October 27, 2011

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Now playing in Pattaya

Dream House: (Scheduled) US, Drama/ Mystery/ Thriller – A family unknowingly moves into a home where several grisly murders were committed, only to find themselves the killer’s next target.  Stars Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, and Naomi Watts.  Generally unfavorable reviews. 

Paranormal Activity 3: (Scheduled) US, Horror/ Mystery – Much like its immensely popular predecessors, this is a slow-building, stealthily creepy supernatural thriller that takes a teasing and indirect approach to generating suspense and dread, but surpasses the previous ones in terms of tension and scares.  Rated R in the US for some violence, language, brief sexuality, and drug use.  Early reviews: generally favorable.

Top Secret / Wai Roon Pan Lan: (Scheduled) Thai, Drama – Based on a true story of a teenage boy who was wasting his time with online games until a twist of fate changes him from an ordinary teenager to a young billionaire.

30+ Single on Sale: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – A woman in her 30’s faces misfortunes in love and struggles to find her soul mate, but thinks her chances are nearly over now that she’s thirty – especially now that a fortune teller tells her that if she doesn’t find a man soon, she’ll have to wait 20 years before another one comes along.  With popular Thai stars Arak (Pe) Amornsupsiri and Cherman Boonyasak.

The Sorcerer and the White Snake: China/ Hong Kong, Action/ Fantasy – I found this a richly entertaining brew of fantasy, romance, and CGI.  Superstar Jet Li stars 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.  The rich production design of this fantasy is a treat, and the supernatural world is vividly realized.  Shown in a Thai-dubbed version only, which is a shame, and not at Major.  Mixed or average reviews.

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 likely be surprised to find out how much you’re laughing uncontrollably.  Mixed or average reviews – some people simply aren’t moved by his brand of humor.  Thai-dubbed at Big C; English elsewhere (at least as of last Wednesday).

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, and kids should love it, but the story for most reviewers is not that great.  I found it good fun and yet another Pixar winner.  Mixed or average reviews.  In 3D at Pattaya Beach, 2D at Major, and 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.

Contagion: 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. But: 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.  At Major Cineplex only, in digital (but not 3D).

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.

Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World: US, Action/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family/ Sci-Fi – A retired spy (Jessica Alba) is called back into action, and reluctantly involves her new step-children in her assignment, which is to stop the evil Timekeeper from taking over the world.  Generally unfavorable reviews, most saying the series has fallen off sharply, but aside from the bathroom humor I didn’t find it more objectionable than most kid movies.  Yes, sure, the plot is hugely illogical and the whole thing mostly dumb.  Fans of the series by director Robert Rodriguez, and most kids, will probably love it.  In 2D in Pattaya; not at Big C.

The Smurfs 3D: US, Animation/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family/ Fantasy – The little blue people too cute for words, famed from a 421-episode Saturday morning television series in the US from 1981-90, have a New York City adventure in a hybrid live-action/ animated format.  Neil Patrick Harris is the main human character, Jonathan Winters and Anton Yelchin among the stellar voices for the cuddly creatures.  Generally unfavorable reviews: the “lowest-common-denominator kiddy fare.”  Though a bit mean-spirited, I thought it was nevertheless a fun riff on New York City, with a nicely executed attack on Central Park’s Belvedere Castle at the film’s conclusion.  Kids and fans of the characters will probably love it, as the film gives full play to the charm of the Smurfs, with credit given to their creator Peyo, in Belgium in 1958, along with glimpses of the earliest Smurf comics (then known as Schtroumpfs).  Only at Pattaya Beach, and in 3D. I saw it in 2D.

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.

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 performer in “adult films” there.  Not at Major.

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).  Not at Big C, and may have disappeared altogether by now.