Let’s go to the movies – Friday February 17 – February 23, 2012

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Now playing in Pattaya

War Horse: US, Drama/ History/ War – Steven Spielberg’s ode to horses and World War I trench warfare.  Fine adventure story, beautifully handled and photographed, told by a master at engaging your emotions.  But for me it’s way too pretty a picture for a setting of such horror.  Take it as a great kid’s story and adventure film.  Stars Emily Watson and David Thewlis.  Generally favorable reviews.  Pattaya Beach only.

Safe House: US/ South Africa, Action/ Crime/ Mystery/ Thriller – A young CIA agent is tasked with looking after a fugitive in a safe house, but when the house is attacked he finds himself on the run with his charge.  With Denzel Washington, Robert Patrick, and Ryan Reynolds.  Denzel does not play a nice guy in this film at all; be warned.  Rated R in the US for strong violence throughout and some language; 15+ in Thailand.  Mixed or average reviews, saying there are strong performances from Denzel and Ryan Reynolds.  Not at Big C.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance: (Scheduled.) US, Action/ Fantasy/ Thriller – Nicolas Cage is back again as the ever-popular Ghost Rider in yet another impossible outing.  Now he’s in Eastern Europe and must stop the devil, who is trying to take human form.  No reviews.

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace: US, Action/ Adventure/ Fantasy/ Sci-Fi – The recounting of the beginning of the Star Wars story, from 1999, tinkered with by director and writer George Lucas, and recast in 3D, with questionable results.  I’d have to say you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to see this classic again on the big screen, though you may be strongly reminded why you didn’t particularly like it first time around.  This is the fourth film to be released in the original series, as the beginning of a “prequel” series, and is generally considered to be the weakest of the lot.  Mixed or average reviews for the 1999 original and for what reviews there are for this fiddled-with version.  In converted Digital 3D and English; not at Big C.

The Lady: (Scheduled.) France/ UK, Biography/ Drama – This is the story of Aung San Suu Kyi, the woman who is at the core of Burma’s democracy movement.  Stars Michelle Yeoh and David Thewlis (who gives a sterling, brilliant performance as her husband – much better than the poor script deserves); directed by Luc Besson.  Rated R in the US for violence, including some bloody images; 13+ in Thailand.  Mixed or average reviews.  I think it’s a ploddingly conventional tribute to the heroic Burmese activist.  Besson seems out of his element here, with the result that his film is dull.  But, even imperfectly told, Aung San Suu Kyi’s story remains astonishingly powerful and moving.

Man on a Ledge: US, Crime/ Thriller – As a police psychologist works to talk down an ex-con who is threatening to jump from a Manhattan hotel rooftop, the biggest diamond heist ever committed is in motion.  The previews play heavily on the fear of falling, making one who is afraid of heights, like me, very uncomfortable indeed.  Stars Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, and Jamie Bell.  Mixed or average reviews, saying that uninspired acting and preposterous plotlines defuse it’s mildly intriguing premise.  English, except Thai-dubbed at Big C.

The Melody: (Scheduled.) Thai, Comedy/ Drama – Thai multi-talented pop-star and entertainment mogul  “Dan” Worrawech Danuwong plays a famous but depressed pop singer who goes into hiding in Mae Hong Son after his career goes down the tubes.  There, he meets a talented pianist and his life takes a turn for the better.

Valentine Sweety: Thailand, Comedy/ Romance – A continuation of Bangkok Sweety which came out the last week of last year, with stories stretching from New Year’s to Valentine’s Day.  Again, an absolute bottom of the barrel Thai RomCom, savaged by the press and hailed by the customers, with plenty of young Thai stars, and music and dancing.  Some of it is pretty gross, having to do with defecation and such.  The movie is in Thai only, and everywhere.

It Gets Better: (Scheduled.) Thai, Drama/ Romance – Here’s a Thai film that goes its own way.  Couldn’t help it, as it’s from Tanwarin Sukkapisit, director of last year’s banned film Insects In the Backyard.  She’s back and unbowed, with a trilogy of stories not your usual Valentine’s fare.  An effeminate high school boy is sent to a monastery to get rid of his girlish manners, and instead falls in love with a monk.  Another tells the tale of a man and his lady-boy.  A third story deals with questions of sexual identity.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island: US, Action/ Adventure/ Family/ Fantasy/ Sci-Fi – A follow-up to the 2008 Journey to the Center of the Earth. Josh Hutcherson, reprising his role from the first film, receives a coded distress signal from a mysterious island where no island should exist.  He partners with his mom’s boyfriend on a mission to find the source of the signal, which they think was sent by his missing grandfather.  With Dwayne Johnson and Michael Caine.  Mixed or average reviews.  In 3D at Pattaya Beach and Major, and both 3D (Thai-dubbed) and 2D (English) at Big C.

Underworld 4: Awakening: US, Action/ Fantasy/ Horror – To gauge from the previews, it’s more of the same, so if you’ve been enthralled by the epic battle between Vampires and Lycans, as delineated so noisily and violently in the first three episodes, then this is for you.  Rated R in the US for strong violence and gore, and for some language; 15+ in Thailand.  In 2D only now, in English; not at Big C.  Mixed or average reviews.

ATM Er Rak Error: Thai, Comedy – This Thai Romantic Comedy has to do with a wayward ATM machine that gives out too much cash.  Number one in Thailand, and a big hit.  English subtitles all locations.

Panya Raenu 2: Thai, Comedy/ Drama – The sequel to Panya Raenu, continuing the story of friendship between Panya and Raenu.  This time they’ve added the popular Petchtai Wongkamlao (Mum Jokmok), and Tukkie to the cast.  Now shown in Thai-only.

Contraband: US/ UK, Action/ Crime/ Drama/ Thriller – To protect his brother-in-law from a drug lord, a former smuggler heads to Panama to score millions of dollars in counterfeit bills.  With Mark Wahlberg, Giovanni Ribisi, and Kate Beckinsale.  Rated R in the US for violence, pervasive language, and brief drug use; 18+ in Thailand.  Mixed or average reviews, saying that, as mindless action capers go, this is a little less mindless than some.  At Pattaya Beach only, if at all.