Let’s go to the movies – Friday October 28 – November 3, 2011

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Now playing in Pattaya

The Lion King 3D: (Scheduled) US, Animation/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Drama/ Family/ Musical – This is a superb animated film, seventeen years old now, newly minted for 3D, and as such currently an absolute smash hit in the US, and probably will be here as well.  It’s not only a phenomenon but a truly exquisite and deeply moving film.  Simba, a young lion prince, is tricked into thinking he killed his father.  The guilt-ridden lion cub flees into exile and abandons his identity as the future King.  Heavy stuff, and what legends are made from.  An emotionally stirring classic.  Reviews: Universal acclaim.  Major Cineplex only. 

In Time: (Scheduled) US, Crime/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – One of the most intriguing of recent movies, with a unique premise.  In a future where time is literally money, and aging stops at 25, the only way to stay alive is to earn, steal, or inherit more time.  A young man (the ubiquitous and ever more excellent Justin Timberlake) lives life a minute at a time, until a windfall of time gives him access to the world of the wealthy, where he teams up with a beautiful young heiress to destroy the corrupt system.  Also stars Cillian Murphy, Alex Pettyfer, Amanda Seyfried, and Olivia Wilde.

Dream House: US, Drama/ Mystery/ Thriller – A family unknowingly moves into a home where several grisly murders were committed, only to find themselves the killer’s next target.  Stars Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, and Naomi Watts.  Generally unfavorable reviews, describing it as slow and stuffy, and way too obvious to be scary.  Thai-dubbed at Big C; English elsewhere.

Paranormal Activity 3: (Still scheduled) US, Horror/ Mystery – Much like its immensely popular predecessors, this is a slow-building, stealthily creepy supernatural thriller that takes a teasing and indirect approach to generating suspense and dread, but surpasses the previous ones in terms of tension and scares.  In fact, they say it’s so spine-tingling you might just freak out.  Rated R in the US for some violence, language, brief sexuality, and drug use; 18+ in Thailand.  Mixed or average reviews.

Top Secret / Wai Roon Pan Lan: Thai, Drama – Based on a true story of a teenage boy — “Top” Aitthipat Kulapongvanich – who was wasting his time with online games until a twist of fate changed him from an ordinary teenager to a young billionaire at 27 by creating his Tao Kae Noi seaweed-snack company when he was just out of his teens.  “Top” is his nickname, so the title really reads “Top’s Secret (to success).”

The Top Secret teen billionaire is portrayed by a peach of an actor, in fact a very rich peach: Patchara “Peach” Chirathivat, the young actor who made his scene-stealing debut in the rock ‘n’ roll movie SuckSeed earlier this year.  Peach is also a member of the family that owns Thailand’s Central department store chain, and thus is used to having a lot of cash around, just like the character he portrays.

The director is Songyos Sugmakanan, one of the six legendary directors of the legendary Thai film Fan Chan (My Girl), a film whose charm and influence on the Thai movie industry is incalculable.  It’s one of my very favorite Thai movies.  Songyos also directed another favorite of mine, Dek Hor (The Dorm), a brilliant and spooky coming-of-age story.

30+ Single on Sale: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – A woman in her 30’s faces misfortunes in love and struggles to find her soul mate, but thinks her chances are nearly over now that she’s thirty – especially now that a fortune teller tells her that if she doesn’t find a man soon, she’ll have to wait 20 years before another one comes along.  A big hit in Thailand.  With popular Thai stars Arak (Pe) Amornsupsiri and Cherman Boonyasak.

The Sorcerer and the White Snake: China/ Hong Kong, Action/ Fantasy – I found this a richly entertaining brew of fantasy, romance, and CGI.  Superstar Jet Li stars in a Chinese fable about the forbidden romance between a simple, kind-hearted man and a snake demon who takes the form of a beautiful woman.  It’s set in a fantasy world of striking beauty where both humans and demons exist, with the demons deceptively taking on human form.  The rich production design of this fantasy is a treat, and the supernatural world is vividly realized.  Shown in a Thai-dubbed version only, which is a shame, and not at Major.  Mixed or average reviews.

Johnny English Reborn: US/ France/ UK, Comedy – Rowan Atkinson returns to the role of the most unlikely intelligence officer in Her Majesty’s Secret Service, where he must stop a group of international assassins before they eliminate a world leader and cause global chaos.  He is in truth a very funny man, and you’ll likely be surprised to find out how much you’re laughing uncontrollably.  Mixed or average reviews – some people simply aren’t moved by his brand of humor.  Major and Pattaya Beach only (at least as of last Wednesday).

Cars 2 3D: US, Animation/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family – As visually appealing as any other Pixar production, and kids should love it, but the story for most reviewers is not that great.  I found it good fun and yet another Pixar winner.  Mixed or average reviews.  Only at Big C now, and only in a  2D and Thai-dubbed version (as of last Wednesday).

Friends with Benefits: US, Comedy/ Romance – While trying to avoid the clichés of Hollywood romantic comedies, Dylan (Justin Timberlake) and Jamie (Mila Kunis) soon discover that adding the act of sex to their friendship really does lead to complications.  The chemistry between the two leads is excellent, and I found it quite enjoyable.  Rated R in the US for some violent content and brief sexuality; 18+ in Thailand.  Generally favorable reviews.  Pattaya Beach only.

The Smurfs 3D: US, Animation/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family/ Fantasy – The little blue people too cute for words, famed from a 421-episode Saturday morning television series in the US from 1981-90, have a New York City adventure in a hybrid live-action/ animated format.  Neil Patrick Harris is the main human character, Jonathan Winters and Anton Yelchin among the stellar voices for the cuddly creatures.  Generally unfavorable reviews, but though a bit mean-spirited, I thought it was nevertheless a fun riff on New York City.  Kids and fans of the characters will probably love it, as the film gives full play to the charm of the Smurfs.  Only at Pattaya Beach, and it’s shown in 3D.

I Don’t Know How She Does It: US, Comedy – A comedy centered on the life of a finance executive who is the breadwinner for her husband and two kids.  Sarah Jessica Parker vehicle.  Generally unfavorable reviews.  Major only.

Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World: US, Action/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family/ Sci-Fi – A retired spy (Jessica Alba) is called back into action, and reluctantly involves her new step-children in her assignment, which is to stop the evil Timekeeper from taking over the world.  Generally unfavorable reviews, most saying the series has fallen off sharply, but aside from the bathroom humor I didn’t find it more objectionable than most kid movies.  Fans of the series by director Robert Rodriguez, and most kids, will probably love it.  In 2D and only at Pattaya Beach.