Now playing in Pattaya
Super 8: US, Mystery/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – In the summer of 1979, a group of childhood friends in a small Ohio town witness a catastrophic train crash while making a super 8 movie and soon suspect that it was not an accident.
Shortly after, unusual disappearances and inexplicable events begin to take place in town, and the local Deputy tries to uncover the truth – something more terrifying than any of them could have imagined. Critics are saying that director J.J. Abrams has found that early Steven Spielberg vibe (Spielberg is producer of the film) – the movie shows its debt to him in many ways. Early reviews: generally favorable.
X-Men: First Class: US, Action/ Adventure/ Drama/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – Smart, spectacular, often thrilling, always incredibly entertaining – they seem to have done everything right with this one. Following the classic Marvel mythology, the film charts the epic beginning of the X-Men saga. Before Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men discovering their extraordinary mutant powers for the first time. Before they were archenemies, they were the closest of friends, working together with other Mutants (some familiar, some new), to stop the greatest threat the world had ever known. Includes the gifted actor (in my opinion) Kevin Bacon in one of his too-rare film appearances. Also features President John F. Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis, in a re-imagining of that near-catastrophic standoff. Generally favorable reviews. Film was never planned for 3D; the director, Matthew Vaughn, prefers 2D. In English everywhere, and Big C also has a Thai-dubbed version.
Insidious: (Still scheduled) US, Fantasy/ Horror/ Thriller – A couple are still unpacking boxes in their family’s new home when the wife first senses a sinister presence. Eerie events steadily escalate into supernatural attacks, until one day their oldest son slips into a mysterious coma. I thought it a very scary and very fun haunted-house thrill ride by horror specialist James Wan, the boyish-looking director responsible for the Saw series, and member of the unofficial “Splat Pack” – directors who make brutally violent horror films. Not so bloody here, just good old-fashioned scares. See it, if it’s here! Mixed or average reviews.
Kung Fu Panda 2: US, Animation/ Action/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family – This is really good! The animation is great, in a couple of distinct styles, including shadow puppets. And it’s funny – I especially got a kick out of Dustin Hoffman this time around, voicing the local guru-mystic – hilarious! Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, and Jackie Chan are among others in a stellar cast who lend their voices to the characters in this sequel to the very popular first installment. Po the Panda’s new life of awesomeness as the Dragon Warrior is threatened by the emergence of a formidable villain, who plans to use a secret, unstoppable weapon to conquer China and destroy kung fu. Po and his friends must journey across China to face this threat and vanquish it. An awesome film, as much a hoot as the first film, but with a dark and adult side to it as well, dealing with serious personal issues, and a resolution that’s genuinely emotional and satisfying. Go see it! Generally favorable reviews. The 3D version is only at Pattaya Beach, only 2D and Thai-dubbed elsewhere. The 3D is reportedly a solid and impressive job; I saw it in 2D.
The Hangover Part II: US, Comedy – Wheeo! Don’t know about this. You might find it amusing, but I didn’t like it at all, even though I have to admit I laughed a few times. In general I thought it just too crass to be fun. In this follow-up to the record-breaking The Hangover, Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), Alan (Zach Galifianakis – whose “acting” I am beginning to hate), and Doug (Justin Bartha) travel here to “exotic” Thailand for Stu’s wedding. After the unforgettable bachelor party in Las Vegas, Stu is taking no chances and has opted for a safe, subdued pre-wedding brunch. However, things don’t always go as planned, and they have another alcoholic blackout and come to in Bangkok. They only slowly find out what they did. Rated R in the US for pervasive language, strong sexual content, including graphic nudity, drug use, and brief violent images; 18+ in Thailand. Mixed or average reviews, but the Bangkok Post’s reviewer, Kong Rithdee, is really angry over this film, calling it “vulgar and stupid, cinematically, geographically, and culturally.” I concur. Thai-dubbed at Big C, English elsewhere.
Puen Mai Gao / August Friends: Thai, Comedy/ Drama – Five good friends take a bicycle trip from Bangkok to Lampang, where they will fulfill their vows. The five are members of the pop group August, featured in the landmark film Love of Siam. The lead singer, the talented Witwisit Hirunyawongkul, played Mew in that film, half of the male puppy-love couple, opposite Mario Maurer. He’s trying to project a tougher male image in this film by having a mustache; it doesn’t work. Now only at Pattaya Beach.
Do-Nut: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – Charlie Trairat of Fan Chan fame stars in this film as a young man very confused when a lesbian love seems to blossom between his two closest girl-friends. Now only at Major, if still here.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: US, Action/ Adventure/ Fantasy – The latest in this great pop series, with a shipful of grand scenery-chewing British star swashbucklers, and directed this time by Rob Marshall (Chicago), for a fresh perspective. Here, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) crosses paths with a woman from his past (a delightful Penelope Cruz), and he’s not sure if it’s love, or if she’s a ruthless con artist. Very enjoyable – the stars are terrific and the jokes and set pieces are funny and well done. If you liked the series before, you’ll like it again. The only real problem is with the light intensity, which is way too dark most of the time, in my opinion and that of a huge number of complainers writing in reviews and blogs. I saw the 2D version and it just has to be much worse in 3D as things in 3D tend to be much darker and muddier than in 2D. Perhaps because of this, the attendance figures for the movie are quite disappointing to the studio, and viewers tend to bypass the 3D version and see it in 2D. Both versions are at Pattaya Beach, only 2D elsewhere, and the version at Big C is Thai-dubbed. Mixed or average reviews.
Priest: US, Action/ Horror/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – There were things that I liked very much in this: the performance of its star Paul Bettany, an actor I admire; the visuals/ art direction, which were carefully and craftily done to establish a fine tense mood full of foreboding – and in general the sense of style throughout this essentially black and white film. It opens with a terrific animated short which explains the background of the film, establishes the role of the priests, and sets the scene of this alternate universe where vicious vampires have been at war with mankind for centuries. As of yesterday it’s still been showing in 3D at Major, 2D at Pattaya Beach; not at Big C. The 3D is “conversion” 3D, and I think not that impressive. Mixed or average reviews.
Fast & Furious 5: US, Action/ Crime/ Drama – Still hanging on, Vin Diesel and his crew find themselves on the wrong side of the law once again as they try to switch lanes between a ruthless drug lord and a relentless federal agent. It’s a movie that’s proud of its brainless action thrills – sleek, loud, and over the top, and the most exciting of the series. Generally favorable reviews. At Big C it’s Thai-dubbed only, English at Pattaya Beach, not at Major, but it may have moved on by now.
Lao Wedding / Sa Buy Dee Wan Wiwah: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – A magazine writer visits Lao, meets a Laotian girl, falls for her, and promises her he’ll return. When he does problems pop up, leading to an unexpected marriage. With this film, director Sakchai Deenan completes his Sabaidee trilogy of cross-border romantic comedies which started in 2008 with Sabaidee Luang Prabang, starring Ananda Everingham. Not at Major, in Thai only at Big C, and English subtitles at Pattaya Beach.