Let’s go to the movies – Friday July 13 – July 19, 2012

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Now playing in Pattaya

The Amazing Spider-Man: US, Action/ Adventure/ Fantasy/ Thriller – Playing everywhere in concentrated overkill, this is sizing up to be the next super-big movie hit.  With saturation like this, how could it not?  Opening weekend receipts were amazing here, to be sure.

I think it’s good, with some fine work in it, an intelligible story, excellent special effects, the 3D used to extraordinarily good effect.  And I find that Andrew Garfield makes a tremendously appealing hero.  That said, I found myself cool to it overall, and I don’t know why.  I do know that I was irritated by the music, but mark that down to simply my tastes; and I thought the 3D came across as way too dark.  Since I haven’t read of any complaints about the film itself being too dark, I can only assume it was the fault of the particular projectionist when I saw it – a common enough occurrence, unfortunately.

This time Peter Parker is played by the quite amazing Andrew Garfield (The Social Network).  Although he’s hilariously too old to be in high school, he pulls it off, and is a delight.  He plays an outcast who was abandoned by his parents as a boy, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field).  Like most teenagers, Peter is trying to figure out who he is and how he got to be the person he is today.  After Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents’ disappearance – leading him directly to the lab of his father’s former partner, a true villain whose alter-ego is The Lizard.

Generally highly favorable reviews. In 3D (English) and 2D (English) at Pattaya Beach and Major; 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: US, Action/ Fantasy/ Horror/ Thriller – A film that explores the secret life of one of the greatest presidents of the US, and the untold story that shaped the country.  Visionary filmmakers Tim Burton and the well-known and knowledgeable vampire director Timur Bekmambetov (director of Wanted and the Night Watch/ Day Watch vampire studies) bring a fresh and visceral voice to the bloodthirsty lore of the vampire, imagining Lincoln as history’s greatest hunter of the undead.  Starring Benjamin Walker (as Lincoln), Rufus Sewell, and Dominic Cooper.  Mixed or average reviews, saying generally that it has superb visual style, but that the mashup of genres don’t jell in a coherent way, so that the result is not entirely satisfying.  Rated R in the US for violence throughout and brief sexuality; 18+ in Thailand.  Shown only in 2D (English) in Pattaya. Big C also has a Thai-dubbed version.

Cosmopolis: France/ Canada/ Portugal/ Italy, Drama – New York City, in the not-too-distant-future: Eric Packer, a 28 year-old finance golden boy dreaming of living in a civilization ahead of this one, watches as a dark shadow is cast over the firmament of the Wall Street galaxy, of which he is the uncontested king.  As he is chauffeured across midtown Manhattan to get a haircut at his father’s old barber, his anxious eyes are glued to the Yuan’s exchange rate: it is mounting against all expectations, destroying Eric’s bet against it.  Eric Packer is losing his empire with every tick of the clock.  Meanwhile, an eruption of wild activity unfolds in the city’s streets.  Petrified as the threats of the real world infringe upon his cloud of virtual convictions, his paranoia intensifies during the course of his 24-hour cross-town odyssey.  Packer starts to piece together clues that lead him to a most terrifying secret: his imminent assassination.  Stars Juliette Binoche, Robert Pattinson, and Paul Giamatti; directed by David Cronenberg.  Rated R in the US for some strong sexual content including graphic nudity, violence and language; 18+ in Thailand.  The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May.  It’s a challenging and dense film.  See it!  Mixed or average reviews.  In 2D (English), showing only at Pattaya Beach.

Magic Mike: US, Comedy/ Drama – Really more of a chick-flick rather than anything else, despite what you might be thinking.  Mike, an experienced male stripper, takes a younger performer called The Kid under his wing and schools him in the arts of partying, picking up women, and making easy money.  Relentlessly aimed for a female audience.  Stars Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, and Olivia Munn; directed by Steve Soderbergh.  Rated R in the US for pervasive sexual content, brief graphic nudity, language, and some drug use; 18+ in Thailand.  Generally favorable reviews, saying the film has excellent direction, a smart screenplay, and strong performances.  A 2D film (English), and not showing at Big C.

The Dictator: (Scheduled) US, Comedy – This newest film by your favorite crazy actor/ screenwriter Sacha Baron Cohen is scripted rather than the sort-of-documentary performances of his previous Bruno and Borat, and I feel a lot more comfortable as a result.  The making of fools out of people in real interviews which was so much the style of the previous films made me feel very uncomfortable and sort of slimy.  This is much more a regular script.  However wild and raunchy the satire might be, it belongs to a truly valid comedic tradition, and is indeed very funny.  Here a dictator goes to any lengths to prevent democracy from taking root in the country he so lovingly oppresses.  Stars Sacha Baron Cohen, Anna Faris, and Ben Kingsley.  Rated R in the US for strong crude and sexual content, brief male nudity, language, and some violent images; 18+ in Thailand.  Mixed or average reviews.

Ice Age 4: Continental Drift: (Scheduled) US, Animation/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family – One of filmdom’s most beloved trios – Manny, Diego, and Sid – embark upon a great adventure after a cataclysm sets an entire continent adrift.  Using an iceberg as a ship, they encounter sea creatures and battle pirates as they explore a new world.  Meanwhile, Scrat continues to chase his elusive acorn.  Early reviews: mixed or average.

Chernobyl Diaries: US, Horror – This low budget horror film is about six vacationers who hire a guide to tour a deserted town near the site of the nuclear reactor disaster at Chernobyl.  What starts out as a peaceful trip full of picture taking and jokes soon takes a turn for the worst.  The film was written and produced by Oren Peli (the creator of the original Paranormal Activity) and directed by first time director Bradley Parker on a budget of just $1 million.  Generally unfavorable reviews, some strongly objecting to the making of monsters out of the victims of the disaster.  Rated R in the US for violence, some bloody images, and pervasive language.  Not at Big C.

Prometheus: US, Action/ Horror/ Sci-Fi – An exceptionally well-done science-fiction film with a lot to think about amidst all the action.  A satisfying movie experience, which I think really should be seen in 3D – unfortunately  it’s no longer shown in 3D in Pattaya, and that’s a true shame.

It’s the story of a team of explorers who discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe.  Directed by Ridley Scott, director of Alien and Blade Runner, returning to the genre he helped define.  Fine performances by Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, and Michael Fassbender (as an intriguing robot).  Rated R in the US for sci-fi violence, including some intense images, and brief language; 15+ in Thailand.  Generally favorable reviews, but I think it’s much better than that.  I’d say it’s not to be missed, and time to see it is limited.  Now only showing at Pattaya Beach, and only in 2D (English) – at least as of last Wednesday.

Snow White and the Huntsman: US, Action/ Comedy/ Sci-Fi – I saw the regular 2D version, and thought it a fantastically beautiful film with superb art direction and a fully realized story.  It’s the old tale intact, with every moment, every twist and turn, given full due.  Visually and aurally it is without peer.  Starring Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, and Charlize Theron; directed by Rupert Sanders, a well-regarded creator of commercials, making his feature film debut.  Mixed or average reviews, but I recommend it highly.  Now in regular 2D only, in English, only at Pattaya Beach and Major.

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted: US, Animation/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family – The Madagascar team of regulars – Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Gloria the Hippo, and Melman the Giraffe – are still fighting to get home to their beloved Big Apple.  Mixed or average reviews, which call it bright and breezy with fast pacing, bright colors, dazzling circus acts, a vigorous villain, and some new characters.  Now in 3D (English) at Pattaya Beach; 3D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C – as of Wednesday.

Antapal (Hoodlum) / Gangster: Thai, Action/ Drama – A gritty action film on the exploits of Thai gangsters in the 1950s, starring the excellent Krissada “Noi” Sukosol Clapp as one of two young hoodlums who take on the old-time mafia to shake up the Thai underworld.  They then find themselves challenged by a pair of even younger hoodlums.  Rated 18+. With English subtitles; no longer playing at Major.

Men in Black III: US, Action/ Comedy/ Sci-Fi – I enjoyed this: the writers and director and actors were having fun with the story, and the fun was infectious.  Mixed or average reviews, saying it does justice to the fun and whimsy of the original, and gives a surprisingly emotional insight into the characters; filled with memorable performances and remarkable visual effects. Now only at Major, in 2D (English).