Let’s go to the movies – Friday June 29 – July 5, 2012

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Now playing in Pattaya

The Amazing Spider-Man: US, Action/ Adventure/ Fantasy/ Thriller – Expected by all concerned to be the next super-big movie hit.  This time Peter Parker is played by the quite-amazing-by-himself Andrew Garfield (The Social Network).  He’s an outcast high schooler 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.  As 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.  Early reviews: generally favorable.

The Vow: US, Drama/ Romance – If you like chick flicks and rom-coms this is for you.  But It’s quite watchable – the kind of movie you can simultaneously snort at and enjoy.  Leo (Channing Tatum) and Paige (Rachel McAdams) have been happily married for 4 years.  Then – they’re in a car accident.  They eventually come out fine physically, but Paige has completely lost her memory of the previous years – including meeting Leo, and falling in love and marrying him.  Leo is determined to help her regain her memory but her nasty parents (Sam Neill and Jessica Lange) don’t like him and want her to live with them and let Leo go.  Mixed or average reviews, the majority praising the chemistry of the two stars.  At Pattaya Beach only.

Chernobyl Diaries: US, Horror – This low budget horror film is about six vacationers who hire an “extreme” guide to tour the site of a nuclear reactor disaster in a deserted town near Chernobyl.  What starts out as a peaceful trip full of picture taking and jokes soon takes a turn for the worst.  It seems that Chernobyl is not as abandoned as they think and soon the nightmare within decides to hunt the kids through the destroyed city.

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, such as “there is no good reason why anyone should ever watch this movie!”  Some strongly object to the making of monsters out of the victims of the disaster: “There are 439 operating nuclear power plants in the world today, and that leaves me uneasy.  This movie only leaves me uneasy about the state of film.  It’s as though Chernobyl Diaries was produced by a pro-nuclear committee: blame is shifted elsewhere, and the whole thing is easily forgettable.”  Rated R in the US for violence, some bloody images, and pervasive language. At Pattaya Beach only.

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 really must be seen in 3D.  There was one spot when the characters were exploring a cave, and with the sound of the water dripping from the stalactites seemingly all around me in the theater, I was transported into the scene more completely than I ever remember happening before in a movie; it was an amazing experience.

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, who with this film returns to the genre he helped define.  For me, many references to 2001: A Space Odyssey – including a walking, talking, joking HAL 9000 robot.  And he’s got his own personal issues to work out (again!).  Fine performances by Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, and Michael Fassbender (as the 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 (warning!) since it’s not doing too well at the Thailand box office, time to see it is limited.  In 3D (English) and 2D (English) at Pattaya Beach; 2D (English) at Major; and 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C – at least as of last Wednesday.

Snow White and the Huntsman: US, Action/ Comedy/ Sci-Fi – I saw the plain old 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.  The direction is fine with the exception of the use of the shaky cam in a few places to cheat on the action scenes.  It’s use is minimal, irritating because the film is so exceptional otherwise.

Probably you won’t love it much if you have an objection to fairy tales, but for me it is one of the most exciting and satisfying films I’ve seen in some time.  Seemed a never-ending dark feast of surprise after surprise, delight after delight, imaginative horror after bloody evil.  One could talk much about the excellent and imaginative costuming and art direction, and music/sound design.  It all ends in a truly huge battle, unexpected in magnitude and ferocity.  Research on medieval battles and the background of the fairy tale were provided by consultants from the University of Chichester and the University of Oxford. All in all, just a very well-done film.

Starring Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, and Charlize Theron; directed by Rupert Sanders, a well-regarded creator of commercials, making his feature film debut.  Shot mostly in England, with impressive photography at Pembrokeshire with a computer-generated castle. Mixed or average reviews, but I recommend it highly.  Now in regular 2D only, in English everywhere, except Thai-dubbed at Big C.

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. Their journey takes them through Europe where they find the perfect cover: a traveling circus, which they reinvent – Madagascar style. 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 and Major; 3D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.

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 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 who are obsessed with the lifestyle of James Dean.

Directed by Kongkiat Khomsiri, it’s based on a true story about a Bangkokian Mafia that was formed during a time of social and cultural upheaval in Thailand.  Young people were listening to Elvis and aspiring to be like James Dean, breaking down cultural norms and, in the case of the men at the center of this film, breaking the law with a wild disregard for anything in their way.  Rated 18+.  With English subtitles at all locations.

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.  There’s a truly enjoyable chemistry between Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith, and as things develop in the story, the same chemistry works just as well between Smith and a younger version of Jones, played by Josh Brolin.  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; it’s a solid creature-feature filled with memorable performances and remarkable visual effects.  In 2D (English) at Pattaya Beach; 2D (English) at Major; and 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.

Marvel’s The Avengers: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi – Marvel Comics’ greatest superheroes together in one film, hoping to attract you to the cinema by strength of sheer numbers.  The film is a big hit here, and actually quite excellent for this type of film, and you may really enjoy it.  Generally favorable reviews, saying the film lives up to its hype with a script that never forgets its heroes’ humanity.  There aren’t many writer-directors around as talented as Joss Whedon.  Indeed, it’s the writing that sets this film apart from the crowd.  At Major only now, in English; no longer shown in 3D.

I Miss You: Thai, Drama – A film about a handsome surgeon whose fiancée dies in a car crash and comes back to haunt him when he starts to look at someone new.  Quite popular.  In Thai only (no English subtitles) at all locations.

Piranha 3DD: US, Action/ Comedy/ Sci-Fi – The “DD” in the title refers to the cup size of women’s bras, so you can tell what the movie is fixated on.  It’s a horror-comedy sequel to the 2010 film Piranha 3D and Ving Rhames and Christopher Lloyd reprise their roles from the first film.  No longer shown in 3D; English at Pattaya Beach and Major; Thai-dubbed at Big C.  Generally unfavorable reviews, with many objecting to the film’s basic premise that women’s breasts are for the viewing pleasure of other people, and nothing else.  In Thailand, only viewers over 20 years of age allowed in (supposedly).