Let’s go to the movies – Friday 20 – 26 May 2011


Now playing in Pattaya

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 the first not directed by Gore Verbinski – it’s Rob Marshall instead, for a fresh perspective.  Here, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) crosses paths with a woman from his past (Penelope Cruz), and he’s not sure if it’s love — or if she’s a ruthless con artist who’s using him to find the fabled Fountain of Youth.  According to Disney sources, the movie was filmed using 3D cameras, but the special effects were rendered in 2D and then converted to 3D to keep the budget down.  Early reviews: generally favorable.

The Ward: (Scheduled) US, Horror/ Thriller – An institutionalized young woman becomes terrorized by a ghost.  A neat little horror flick by a master of the genre – John Carpenter – that isn’t perfect and not the scariest or most imaginative, but a middling shocker salvaged by the director’s class, and with some finely crafted shocks and a steady pace that almost seems stately in these days of fast-cut horror.  Rated R in the US for violence and disturbing images.  Mixed or average reviews.

Ladda Land: Thai, Horror/ Mystery – A family moves into a new house in a Chiang Mai housing development where the newcomers 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.  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 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+.  English subtitles at all locations.

Thor: US, Action/ Fantasy – Directed by the top Shakespearian director of our time, Kenneth Branagh – slumming, as it were.  Thor, a powerful but arrogant warrior-god as imagined by Marvel comics, is sent down to Earth as punishment for reigniting a reckless war.  Many viewers hold that the 2D version is sharper and brighter, and thus superior to the 3D version.  The 3D version is at Pattaya Beach, 2D at Major, not at Big C.  Mixed or average reviews, but for sure a sight for Thor eyes.

Priest: 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 continues the feel and style of the previous collaboration of star Bettany and director Scott Stewart, Legion.  This story takes place in an alternate universe where vicious vampires have been at 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.  Shown in 3D at Major, 2D elsewhere, and the version at Big C is Thai-dubbed.  The 3D is “conversion” 3D, which in this case has been called “shoddy” by one reviewer, and that seems to be the consensus.  Mixed or average reviews.

E Nang / I Love Farang / White Buffalo: 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: Thai, Drama/ Romance – Love in three different Thai families by three different directors.  Not at Major.

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.

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.  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.  Now in 2D only. 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.  At Pattaya Beach only, 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.  May have departed.