Let’s go to the movies – Friday January 6 – January 12, 2012


Now playing in Pattaya

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: (Scheduled.) US/ Sweden/ UK/ Germany, Crime/ Drama/ Mystery/ Thriller – Brutal and captivating.  With Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard, Steven Berkoff, Robin Wright, and directed by David Fincher (The Social Network, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button).   Journalist Mikael Blomkvist is aided in his search for a woman who has been missing for forty years by Lisbeth Salander, a young computer hacker – and one of the most unique and vivid female protagonists ever created, first in the highly popular series of novels by Stieg Larsson, and then in the trio of Swedish films made from them.  Rated R in the US for brutal violent content including rape and torture, strong sexuality, graphic nudity, and language.  Generally favorable reviews.  I don’t see how it can possibly outdo the stunning Swedish original, but we shall see.

The Darkest Hour: (Scheduled.) 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.

Flying Swords of Dragon Gate: (Scheduled.) China, Action/ Adventure – At the time of the story in the Ming Dynasty, the bad guys are the eunuchs of the Imperial Court, who have created their own unaccountable secret police, armed with bizarre weapons and utterly ruthless in their quest for power and wealth.  Starring Jet Li and directed by the innovative Tsui Hark.  A 3D film.

The Adventures of Tintin: US/ New Zealand, Animation/ Action/ Adventure/ Family/ Mystery – Based on the series of classic comic books created by Belgian artist Georges Remi, who wrote under the pen name of Hergé.  The series is one of the most popular European comics of the 20th century, with translations published in more than 50 languages and more than 200 million copies of the books sold.

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 a little uncertain.

I enjoyed it well enough. The story has the intrepid young reporter Tintin discovering directions to a sunken ship commanded by an ancestor of the brash and cynical Captain Haddock, and the two go off on a treasure hunt.  Generally favorable reviews.  In Digital 3D and English at Pattaya Beach, apparently 2D and English at Major, and Digital 3D and Thai-dubbed at Big C.

Real Steel: US/ India, Action/ Drama/ Sci-Fi/ Sport – A future-set story where robot boxing is a popular sport.  Yes, you read that right – boxing matches between robots.  And the plot: A struggling promoter – no other than Hugh Jackman – feels he’s found a champion in a discarded robot.  (Are your heartstrings pulled yet?)  During his hopeful rise to the top, his barely acknowledged 11-year-old son (Dakota Goyo) comes into his life.  Ah, you’re saying, now you’re grabbed!  Well, despite the outlandish premise, the movie proves that yes, audiences can root for robots in boxing matches, and get emotionally involved.

I’ve seen this film, and the story about the rejected son is nicely played indeed and will bring a tear to your eye.  And there is some 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.  I have to say that 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 everywhere except Big C, whose version is Thai-dubbed.

New Year’s Eve: US, Comedy/ Romance – A film which had hopes of celebrating love, forgiveness, second chances, and fresh starts, in intertwining stories told amidst the pulse and promise of New York City on its most frenetic night of the year.  What it turned out to be was a sentimental ode to Times Square at midnight on New Year’s Eve, the last place on earth I would want to be after doing it four times.  It’s a sort of a sugary promotional tourist advertisement.  Starring Ashton Kutcher, Jessica Biel, and Sarah Jessica Parker and a huge selection of stars and semi-stars.  Generally unfavorable reviews, calling it such things as shallow, sappy, and dull.  Only at Major, in Digital (but not 3D).

Sor Kor Sor Sweety / Bangkok Sweety: Thailand, Comedy/ Romance – Much like a Thai version of the above (New Year’s Eve), except the stories extend from New Year’s to Valentine’s Day.  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, except at Pattaya Beach, which has English subtitles.

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.  This sequel has just as many explosions, anachronisms, quick cuts, and all the rest of the attributes of an action movie.  In forty or eighty years from now when the confusingly edited action sequences in all our current films will be re-edited, as surely they must, this will turn out to be a wholly delightful film.  Mixed or average reviews.  In English everywhere, and Big C has a Thai-dubbed version as well.

The Kick / Won Don Tae: Thailand/ South Korea, Action/ Adventure/ Thriller – A South Korean-Thai co-production about a Korean family in Bangkok who join with a pair of Thai friends to battle gangsters.  Mom and Pop, former Korean Taekwondo champs, settle down in Thailand and open a Korean restaurant and Taekwondo school. Their three kids, though, are interested in different things; the teenage boy is crazy about K-pop, the girl loves football and Thai dance, and only the youngest boy shows any interest in Taekwondo.  Soon the family makes friends with Mum Jokmok – who else? – and his niece, a talented Muay Thai boxer, played by Thailand’s favorite female fighter, Jeeja Yanin.  (And the feeling is that she isn’t given enough to do.)  Everything changes when the family and their friends become involved with Korean mobsters who’ve stolen some ancient daggers.  Directed by Prachya Pinkaew.  English subtitles everywhere.

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 IMF is shut down when it is implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin, causing Ethan Hunt and his new team to go rogue to clear their organization’s name.  It’s a 2D film, with some parts filmed in super high-definition Digital IMAX – though shown in IMAX only in Bangkok.  The high point has to be the scaling of the Burj Dubai, now the world’s tallest building at 2,723 ft.  Tom Cruise is insisting that all the height-defying stunt work on the building was done by him personally.  Even without an IMAX projector, the high definition of these scenes are impressive and spectacular.  But the whole film is a lot of fun.  In English, except Thai-dubbed at Big C.  Generally favorable reviews.

Immortals (2011): US, Action/ Drama/ Fantasy – With fantastical design and painterly images that are really quite beautiful (when not too dark to be seen), this film lacks any character development and has no emotional resonance for any of its characters.  Eons after the Gods won their mythic struggle against the Titans, a new evil threatens the land, the rise of power-mad King Hyperion, nicely played by Mickey Rourke.  Rapid editing spoils most of the film for me; I can see how this might be a decent film, if completely re-edited, as surely someone will do, sometime in the future.  Rated R in the US for sequences of strong bloody violence, and a scene of sexuality; 15+ here.  Mixed or average reviews.  In Digital 3D (English) and only at Pattaya Beach – as of this last Wednesday.