Let’s go to the movies – Friday January 27 – February 2, 2012


Now playing in Pattaya

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, why this is for you.  

Kate Beckinsale, star of the first two films, returns in the lead role as the vampire warrioress Selene, who escapes imprisonment to find herself in a world where humans have discovered the existence of both Vampire and Lycan clans, and are conducting an all-out war to eradicate both immortal species.  Rated R in the US for strong violence and gore, and for some language.

In 3D and 2D at Pattaya Beach, 3D at Major, and 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.  Mixed or average reviews, saying in general there’s more vapid action and less story in this installment, which makes the whole affair feel inconsequential.  And it does and gets little with the 3-D.

ATM Er Rak Error: Thai, Comedy – The latest Romantic Comedy to grace Thailand’s screens has to do with a wayward ATM machine that gives out too much cash.  English subtitles at Airport Plaza, Thai-only at Vista.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: US/ Sweden/ UK/ Germany, Crime/ Drama/ Mystery/ Thriller – There are some decidedly good aspects to this brutal and captivating film.  Quite good acting, some scenes quite gripping.  Rooney Mara is in general quite good as the young computer hacker Lisbeth Salander, who has to be one of the most unique and vivid female protagonists ever created, first in the highly popular series of novels by Stieg Larsson, then in the trio of Swedish films made from them, and now here.  Also with Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard, Steven Berkoff, and Robin Wright.  The film is directed with impressive intensity by David Fincher (The Social Network, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button).

On my second viewing I was particularly struck by the music (or sound design; the distinction is blurred here).  Though loathsome during the opening titles, it is fascinating and inventive most of the time.  And the digital cinematography is endlessly captivating. There are some distinctive and positive qualities in digital, and it is in the exploiting of these strengths that the film truly excels.

Rated R in the US for brutal violent content including rape and torture, strong sexuality, graphic nudity, and language.  Generally favorable reviews.  At Pattaya Beach only (as of Wednesday), and in Digital (not 3D).

Meung Gu: Thai, Action/ Drama – A transfer student at Chiang Mai University becomes friends with another student, the leader of the Sperm Gang, and gets drawn into gang warfare, learns about the dangers of life, and thereby achieves manhood.  It’s apparently based on a true story about a fight between a gang called the Sperm Gang and another called The Night Bazaar Gang, which terrorized Chiang Mai some 40 years ago, although this film takes place in the present.  Heartthrob Mario Maurer (The Love of Siam), is the gang leader.  But, so I’m told by a Thai-speaker, he’s a gang leader filled with virtue: Loyalty, love of his friends, respectful treatment of girls.  Never looks for trouble; trouble looks for him.  “The Sperm Gang is stronger than all the other millions of sperm,” he says.  “We’re fighters, not gangsters.”  Well-known spots in Chiang Mai are photographed digitally and not brightly, making a nice town look quite ominous.  English subtitles at all locations.

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.  Not at Big C.  Mixed or average reviews, saying that, as mindless action capers go, this is a little less mindless than some.

Ruk Vei Hei / Rak Woei Hoei: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – A clumsy computer programmer has a crush on an attractive girl DJ, but he knows that with his clumsiness he wouldn’t have a chance to win her heart.  But, luckily for him, he finds an idiotic love guru who helps him accomplish his mission.  Looks like your average Thai comedy with your average stereotypes.  English subtitles at all locations.

The Darkest Hour: US, Action/ Horror/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – Stranded in Moscow, five young people lead the charge against an alien race who have attacked Earth via our power supply.  Starring Emile Hirsch and Olivia Thirlby.  Reviews: Overwhelming dislike, saying it has a dead screenplay and not even a single compelling character.  Shown in 2D at Pattaya Beach, and 2D-Thai-dubbed at Big C (as of this last Wednesday).

The Adventures of Tintin: US/ New Zealand, Animation/ Action/ Adventure/ Family/ Mystery – Based on the series of classic comic books created by Belgian artist Hergé. Steven Spielberg, as director and producer, has once again crafted what I think is a spirited, thrilling adventure using the latest motion-capture technology and wedding it to tried and true Spielberg story elements.  It keeps close to the original tone and intent, so those who are fond of the books will be enthralled.  Whether it will capture the imagination of those not brought up on the books is uncertain.  The film has not had a very lucrative run here in Thailand. I enjoyed it well enough, but I think the character and his distinctive style has to be, in the main, an acquired taste.  Generally favorable reviews.  Only at Pattaya Beach, in Digital 3D, as of Wednesday.

Real Steel: US/ India, Action/ Drama/ Sci-Fi/ Sport – A future-set story where robot boxing is a popular sport.  Despite the outlandish premise the movie proves that, yes, audiences can root for robots in boxing matches, and get emotionally involved.  The story about a rejected son is nicely played and will bring a tear to your eye.  And there is some truly thrilling and exciting action, done very well indeed, as you would expect from a Steven Spielberg production.  The film uses motion capture technology of actual boxers for accuracy during the robot fights, supervised by no less than Sugar Ray Leonard.  Overall it is an amazingly entertaining film, with a thoroughly satisfying performance by the young boy, and the robots.  Mixed or average reviews; much better than you would think.  It’s a 2D film, in English at Pattaya Beach and Thai-dubbed at Big C.

Sor Kor Sor Sweety / Bangkok Sweety: Thailand, Comedy/ Romance –  For the third year in a row now, in the last week of the year, the studio M-Thirtynine has released an absolute bottom of the barrel Thai RomCom that has been savaged by the press and hailed by the customers, with plenty of young Thai stars, and music and dancing.  They’ve all been hugely popular, and made a lot of money, so here we are again.  Thai soundtrack only all locations.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows: US, Action/ Adventure/ Crime/ Mystery/ Thriller – Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson join forces to outwit and bring down their fiercest adversary, Professor Moriarty.  Once again starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law; face it, there’s no way there’s going to be a legitimate Holmes movie coming out these days.  Surely not when the 2009 film made so much money.  Mixed or average reviews.  Pattaya Beach only, as of Wednesday.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol: US, Action/ Adventure/ Thriller –– I found this to be an exciting and intense action thriller, and of that kind of thing, very well-done indeed.  This, the fourth film in the popular series, again stars Tom Cruise, and he still exhibits his undeniable star-quality.  The whole film is a lot of fun.  Not at Big C.  Generally favorable reviews.