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

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Now playing in Pattaya

Titanic: US, Adventure/ Drama/ History/ Romance – Grand entertainment!  This is a brilliant reworking of the 1997 film, done under the fastidious eye of the director James Cameron, who is a stickler for perfection – or at least as close to perfection as possible.  First off, even the 2D version now is sharpened and cleaned up in a hundred small ways: little errors fixed, some skies reworked (there are now bright stars in the sky in the aftermath of the sinking, and the stars have been corrected after an astronomer pointed out that the wrong stars were shown for that place on earth), also some anachronisms have been removed.  

Some of the color has been changed.  The audio has been restored and enhanced.  Then the whole film was scanned digitally, as a necessary step before converting to 3D.  The conversion itself, as I saw for myself on opening day, is as good as it gets.

It’s thrilling – much more than I had expected or had hoped for.  I agree with the majority of reviewers so far who say that, in this very rare case, the 3D technology improves on what is one of the greatest motion pictures ever made.  James Cameron’s epic creation shines, and the picture and sound conversion is a stunning achievement.  And those who are not moved to tears by the stories shown are those who are determined not to be, who have made that decision ahead of time.

Generally favorable reviews.  All low expectations and doubts can be thrown overboard.  Showing in glorious 3D and sound to match at Pattaya Beach and Major, 2D and Thai-dubbed at Big C.  See it!

Battleship: (Scheduled.) US, Action/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – A fleet of ships is forced to do battle with an armada of unknown origins in order to discover and thwart their destructive goals.  It’s based on a game! Hasbro’s classic naval combat game.  Stars Liam Neeson and the star of John Carter, Taylor Kitsch.  No reviews yet – not opening in the US until next month.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen: (Scheduled.) UK, Comedy/ Drama/ Romance – A visionary sheik believes his passion for the peaceful pastime of salmon fishing can enrich the lives of his people, and he dreams of bringing the sport to the not so fish-friendly desert.

Willing to spare no expense, he instructs his representative to turn the dream into reality, an extraordinary feat that will require the involvement of Britain’s leading fisheries expert who happens to think the project both absurd and unachievable.  With Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt.  Mixed or average reviews.

Wrath of the Titans: US, Action/ Adventure/ Fantasy – Perseus braves the treacherous underworld to rescue his father, Zeus, captured by his son, Ares, and brother Hades, who unleash the ancient Titans upon the world.  A sequel to Clash of the Titans.  Not filmed in 3D, but the entire production was conceived as a 3D picture (unlike the first film), with a 3D stereographer on set.  (The 3D conversion of the original was an object of universal scorn, as a supreme example of how not to do a 3D conversion.)  Stars Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, and Rosamund Pike.  Generally unfavorable reviews, mostly saying that its 3D effects are an improvement over its predecessor’s, but in nearly every other respect, Wrath of the Titans fails to improve upon the stilted acting, wooden dialogue, and chaos-driven plot of the franchise’s first installment.  Shown in both 3D (English) and 2D (English) at Pattaya Beach, 2D (English) at Major, and both 3D (Thai-dubbed) and 2D (English) at Big C – as of Wednesday.

The Hunger Games: US, Action/ Drama/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – I found this to be tight, taut, creepy, exciting – and entertaining.  And food for thought.  The story: every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the evil Capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games.  A twisted punishment for a past uprising and an ongoing government intimidation tactic, The Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which “Tributes” must fight with one another until one survivor remains.  One girl volunteers to take her younger sister’s place for the latest match.  With Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth.  Generally favorable reviews, saying that it’s thrilling and superbly acted, capturing the dramatic violence, raw emotion, and ambitious scope of its source novel.  Second film in the series already shooting.  A 2D film in English; not at Big C.

The Cold Light of Day: US, Action/ Thriller – After his family is kidnapped during their sailing trip in Spain, a young Wall Street trader is confronted by the people responsible: intelligence agents looking to recover a mysterious briefcase.  With Henry Cavill, Bruce Willis, and Sigourney Weaver.  This is a 2D film; no reviews yet; won’t open in the US until September.  Thai-dubbed at Big C; English elsewhere.

Mirror Mirror: US, Adventure/ Comedy/ Drama/ Fantasy – A retelling of the Snow White tale which I found generally quite amusing, with some surprising twists, and seasoned with a sinister side.  Julia Roberts is suitably outrageous as the Evil Queen, Lily Collins plays Snow White, Armie Hammer is the Prince, and famed comic Nathan Lane plays a long-suffering servant of the Evil Queen.  The seven dwarfs are played by … seven dwarfs. Directed by the Indian director Tarsem Singh, who sees to it that the film ends with a traditional Bollywood wild dance. Mixed or average reviews.  This is a 2D film, in English.  Now playing at Pattaya Beach only, if at all.

This Means War: US, Action/ Comedy/ Romance – Two CIA agents, best friends, find themselves falling for the same girl.  When they discover this shocking news, they agree to let her choose between them.  But both can’t help but use their spy skills to keep tabs on her and each other – and also sabotage each other’s dates with her.  Stars Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, and Tom Hardy. Rated R in the US for some sexual content.  Generally unfavorable reviews, mostly saying it’s a career lowlight for all three of its likable stars – it’s loud, clumsily edited, and neither romantic nor funny.  This is a 2D film in English, Pattaya Beach and Major only (as of last Wednesday).

Ma Mha 2: Thai, Comedy/ Family – A sequel to 2007’s popular Ma Mha See Kar Krub / Mid-Road Gang, about a cute pack of soi dogs (if packs of dogs in Thailand can ever be considered cute).  Here, an adorable pooch has been adopted by a nice family and turns would-be hero when the family baby is kidnapped and the dog takes it as his duty to catch the kidnappers and return the kid.  The dogs speak, but only in Thai, and without English subtitles, all locations.

Plon Naya 2: Thai, Action/ Comedy – Poj Arnon at it again, continuing the farce of his 2004 bank-robbery film Spicy Beauty Queens in Bangkok.  Colorful transgender cabaret dancers robbed a bank to pay for sex-change operations, and now they’re back so the ringleader can finally get his change.  But before that can happen, the hospital is stormed by a radical student group.  English subtitles, except Thai only at Pattaya Beach.