Let’s go to the movies – Friday 13 May – 19 May 2011

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Now playing in Pattaya

Ladda Land: Thai, Horror/ Mystery – A family moves into a new house in a Chiang Mai housing development where they gradually begin to encounter paranormal and horrifying events.  It’s the creation of the Thai filmmaker I think is the top of the list for horror and spookiness at this time, 30-year-old Sophon Sakdaphisit.

He’s the man responsible for some of the most enjoyable parts of recent anthology films (like 4Bia and Phobia 2) and as writer and/or director for some of my favorite Thai films: Alone (the identical twin caper), Coming Soon (people sucked into a movie), and the iconic Shutter.  That last was picked up by Hollywood and remade, into a film that didn’t hold a candle to the original.  This time, in addition to the spookiness, he seems to have added a level of social commentary, as this family is beguiled into accepting the lures of the middle-class lifestyle to which they are not accustomed.  It is said, but I can’t prove it, that the tale behind this film is based on fact – a housing development in Chiang Mai was eventually abandoned after a series of unexplained deaths.  Rated 18+.

Thor 3D: US, Action/ Fantasy – Thor, a powerful but arrogant warrior, is sent down to Earth as punishment for reigniting a reckless war.  But after a dangerous villain from his world sends dark forces to invade Earth, the hammer-wielding Thor learns what it takes to be a true hero.  Directed by the top Shakespearian director of our time, Kenneth Branagh – slumming, as it were.  Shown in both 2D and converted 3D versions, it’s heightening the 3D controversy.  Filming started in true 3D but was quickly abandoned, after one day, in favor of post-production 3D conversion, with complaints that the 3D cameras and accessories were too cumbersome and unwieldy.  The studio and director are happy with the 3D conversion, but many viewers hold that the 3D is unimpressive, and claim that the 2D version is sharper and brighter, and thus superior.  The 3D version is at Pattaya Beach, 2D versions at all locations, with Big C showing only a Thai-dubbed version.  Mixed or average reviews, but for sure a sight for Thor eyes.

Rio 3D: US, Animation/ Adventure/ Comedy – A simple and charming movie, big and bright.  Set in the city of Rio de Janeiro and the lush rainforest of Brazil, this comedy-adventure about Blu, a rare macaw who thinks he is the last of his kind.  From the makers of the Ice Age series.  Generally favorable reviews.  Now at Major only, in digital 3D.  I really enjoyed this one.

Fast & Furious 5: US, Action/ Crime/ Drama – Dominic (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.

Priest: (Scheduled) US, Action/ Horror/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – Much as I like its star, Paul Bettany, the word on this film is decidedly not kind – in summary, visually interesting but dramatically inert.  It sort of continues the feel and style of the previous collaboration of star Bettany and director Scott Stewart, Legion.  This story takes place is an alternate universe where vicious vampires have been a war with mankind for centuries, and the Church has become all-powerful due to its ability to keep the vampires at bay by their crack teams of tattooed vampire-hunting warrior priests.  If shown in 3D it will be conversion 3D, which in this case has been called “shoddy” by one reviewer, and that seems to be the consensus.

Drive Angry: US, Action/ Thriller – Nicolas Cage as a hardened felon who has broken out of Hell for one last chance at redemption.  That’s literally Hell – underscored by his character’s name: John Milton.  Intent on stopping a vicious cult who murdered his daughter, he has three days to stop them before they sacrifice her baby beneath a full moon.  Has been described as an exercise in deliberate vulgarity, gross excess, potty-mouth monologues, and the pornography of violence.  Created in 3D rather than a post production conversion, the 3D is thus better than most.  Rated R in the US for strong brutal violence throughout, grisly images, some graphic sexual content, nudity, and pervasive language; 18+ here.  Mixed or average reviews.  In 3D at Major, and 2D (so far) at Pattaya Beach.  Not at Big C.

World Invasion: Battle Los Angeles: US, Action/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – Here the invaders are aliens, and the movie I think is designed to show how Marines would likely handle an attack from extra-terrestrials, if it were all up to them.  I enjoyed Aaron Eckhart in this film – felt he gave a very good performance indeed.  And I thought it was overall a fair action film.  Generally unfavorable reviews.  No longer at Big C, and may have left town entirely by now.

Jakkalan: Thai, Action/ Comedy – ‘Jeeja’ (Chocolate and Raging Phoenix) is back in a new action comedy directed by an acclaimed director Petchtai Wongkamlao, aka Mum Jokmok.  The lives of an uncle and his niece Jakkalan turn into chaos after she is hired to transport smuggled goods to ruthless gangsters.

E Nang / I Love Farang / White Buffalo: (Scheduled) Thai, Comedy/ Romance – Set in the northeast of Thailand or “E San” (as this film would have it) where, they say, some girls are fond of dating western guys, and for some families having a Western son-in-law is now trendy.

Kob Khun Tee Rak Kan: (Scheduled) Thai, Drama/ Romance – Love in three different Thai families.