Let’s go to the movies – Friday May 11 – May 17, 2012

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Now playing in Pattaya

Marvel’s The Avengers 3D: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi – Marvel Comics brings its greatest superheroes together in this film, hoping they’ll be enough to smash the evil super-villain Loki (and attract you to the cinema by strength of sheer numbers).  Loki is really terrific in my mind, the very role-model a kid needs who wants to turn out evil.  Deliciously evil, and frightening!  Generally favorable reviews, saying the film lives up to its hype with a script that never forgets its heroes’ humanity.  And that there aren’t many writer-directors around as talented as Joss Whedon.  That indeed it’s the writing that sets this film apart from the crowd, in harmony with perfect casting, first-rate visual effects, and other key ingredients. 

And as for the heroes, they include all (or maybe most) of your favorites: Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), The Incredible Hulk (Bruce Banner), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson).  It’s a well-nigh perfect comic-book movie, and if you were ever a fan, you’ll love it.

The film was converted to 3D during post-production, and along with most reviewers I think that it’s quite well done, especially in the tricky area known as the sunglasses effect.  Here, I think the brightness is fine even with the glasses on (if projected properly, of course), but others still claim the glasses cause muddiness on the screen.  It seems clear the film was planned for 3D from the beginning, even if not shot with 3D cameras.  Nevertheless, the things that are really good about this film are not related to 3D – things like the dialogue.  You remember dialogue?  People talking to each other.  Shown in 3D and 2D at Pattaya Beach, 2D at Major, and 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.

Note: Following tradition, there’s an extra scene during the ending credits (apparently two scenes in other parts of the world) which allows everyone to puzzle out what the next film will be like.  To really appreciate this movie, you need to have seen the previous Marvel Studios films (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America).  There are little things brought to this film from each of the stand-alone movies that would have someone who hasn’t seen them scratching their heads.  Of course, you don’t have to have seen those films to enjoy this one.

The Cabin in the Woods: (Scheduled.) US, Horror/ Thriller – A remarkably complicated and richly-layered play on the whole of the horror film literature.  Already there’s a fair-sized cult following, and for them and all of us there’s a beautiful and informative 176-page guide to the film which illustrate all of the film’s possibilities, and which contains the entire script as well as explanatory essays.  Five teenagers head off for a weekend at a secluded cabin in the woods, as per usual.  They arrive to find they are quite isolated with no means of communicating with the outside world.  Per usual.  When the cellar door flings itself open, they of course go down to investigate.  They find an odd assortment of relics and curios, and when one of the women reads from a book she awakens a family of deadly zombie killers.  Then the film really takes off into numerous horror universes.  There’s far more going on than meets the eye – because the five campers are all under observation.  Written and produced by Joss Whedon, who wrote and directed the current The Avengers as well.  Strangely, the film was completed in 2009 and has been withheld since then.  Rated R in the US for strong bloody horror violence and gore, language, drug use, and some sexuality/nudity; 18+ here.  Definitely not a movie for children, nor the squeamish or faint of heart.  Generally favorable reviews, which praise it as an astonishing meta-feat, capable of being funny, strange, and scary — frequently all at the same time.  It’s been described as “a final exam” for fans of the horror genre in the guise of a puzzle.

American Pie: Reunion: (Scheduled.) US, Comedy/ Raunch – All the American Pie characters we met a little more than a decade ago are returning to East Great Falls for their high-school reunion.  In one long weekend they will discover what has changed, who hasn’t, and that time and distance can’t break the bonds of what they call friendship.  And to think it all started in the summer of 1999 when four small-town Michigan boys began a quest to lose their virginity.  Now they reminisce about – and get inspired by – the memories of their hormonal teen selves, who once upon a time launched a disgusting comedy legend.  Rated R in the US for crude and sexual content throughout, nudity, language, brief drug use, and teen drinking; 18+ in Thailand.  Mixed or average reviews, saying in general that it will provide sweetly nostalgic comfort food for fans of the franchise, but fails to do anything truly new or interesting — or even very funny — with the characters.

Titanic: US, Adventure/ Drama/ History/ Romance – I’d still call this the one film in town to see.  It’s grand entertainment and I remain in a state of shock by the poor reception it’s gotten in Thailand.  I say: If you ever liked it, see it again in its 3D incarnation.  You’ll love it.  If you’ve never seen it, now’s your chance.  This is a film made to be seen on a big screen with a good sound system.  And it’s even better in 3D.  I can’t encourage you enough to go see it.  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.  Showing in glorious 3D and sound to match, now only at Major (as of Wednesday).  See it while you can!

Lockout: France, Action/ Thriller/ Sci-Fi – From French writer-producer Luc Besson, another actioner.  A man wrongly convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage against the U.S. is offered his freedom if he can rescue the president’s daughter from an outer space prison taken over by violent inmates.  Stars Guy Pearce.  Rated 18+ in Thailand for intense sequences of violence and action, and language, including some sexual references; only PG 13 in the US.  Mixed or average reviews.  In English, except Thai-dubbed at Big C.

Safe: US, Action/ Crime/ Thriller – Stars Jason Statham as a second-rate cage fighter on the mixed martial arts circuit, who lives a numbing life of routine beatings until the day he blows a rigged fight.  Wanting to make an example of him, the Russian Mafia murders his family and banishes him from his life forever, leaving him to wander the streets of New York tormented by the knowledge that he will always be watched, and anyone he develops a relationship with will also be killed.  But when he witnesses a frightened twelve-year-old Chinese girl, being pursued by the same gangsters who killed his wife, he impulsively jumps to action and straight into the heart of a deadly high-stakes war.  It’s the imposing Statham’s badass grimace and combat acumen that primarily elevate the film above your average direct-to-video genre work, with every flying punch and snapped wrist reconfirming the star’s status as this era’s Charles Bronson-style angel of righteous death.  Rated R in the US for strong violence throughout, and for language; 18+ here.  Mixed or average reviews.  In English; not at Big C.

One for the Money: US, Action/ Comedy/ Crime/ Romance/ Thriller – From a mystery-comedy series of some 18 bestselling novels by Janet Evanovich about a female bounty-hunter and the crime scenes she gets involved in.  It’s a sort of romantic comedy for those starved for such, and as such it’s a pleasant enough way to dally for a few hours with your friends.  Generally unfavorable reviews.  At Major only.

Battleship: US, Action/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – A true blockbuster in Thailand, raking in much money for three weeks now.  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 the Hasbro classic naval combat game. Just as the Hasbro game Transformers brought those toys to the screen, so this time the popular board game is realized onscreen, with hopes that you will want to see sequel after sequel.  Stars Liam Neeson and the star of John Carter, Taylor Kitsch.  Viewers who fancy lots of pyrotechnics will have their money’s worth here.  Early reviews: mixed or average – the film has not yet opened in the US.  There’s a short scene after the closing credits which brings tidings of the first sequel.  It’s a 2D film; at Big C it’s Thai-dubbed.

The Hunger Games: US, Action/ Drama/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – I found this to be tight, taut, creepy, exciting – and entertaining.  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, in which “Tributes” must fight with one another until one survivor remains.  Generally favorable reviews, saying that it’s thrilling and superbly acted, capturing the dramatic violence, raw emotion, and ambitious scope of its source novel.  A 2D film in English; playing only at Pattaya Beach, if at all.