Let’s go to the movies – Friday September 21 – September 27, 2012

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Now playing in Pattaya

Resident Evil 5: Retribution: Germany/ Canada, Action/ Horror/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – The Resident Evil series always does well internationally; Resident Evil 4 was the fifth most popular film in Thailand in 2010.  

By all indications, this will do similar business.  From all I can see, without actually seeing it, which I am in no hurry to do, the settings are superb, and the visuals in general at the cutting edge of filmmaking.  Other than that, it’s basically just action, with a minimum of story and character.  If you enjoyed the previous films, especially Resident Evil 4, you should enjoy this, and the next one yet to come, as they are simply more of the same.  Only with ever-better graphics.

I can do no better than quote a professed fan: “The Resident Evil movies are made for a very specific fan base; yes, fans know these movies are silly and empty-headed, but we don’t care.  Sure, I love my thought-provoking and visceral horror movies just as much as the next person, but there’s also something to be said for going to the movies for 90 minutes and getting lost in the spectacle and badass action sequences that these films are known for.  Oh, and don’t forget the zombies.  Lots and lots and lots of zombies.”

So there you have it.  Purely up to you.  Umbrella Corporation’s deadly T-virus continues to ravage the Earth, transforming the global population into legions of the flesh-eating Undead.  The human race’s last and only hope, Alice, played again of course by Milla Jovovich, whose husband is the creator behind this series, awakens in the heart of Umbrella’s most clandestine operations facility and unveils more of her mysterious past.  Rated R in the US for sequences of strong violence throughout.  Filmed in 3D, Imax, and 3D-Imax.  Shown in 3D (English) and 2D (English) at Pattaya Beach; 2D (English) at Major; 3D (Thai-dubbed) and 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.

Early reviews: Mixed or average.  Another fan says: It’s a Resident Evil movie.  I’ve watched them all at least 4 times and I wasn’t aware they were even supposed to have a story – I mean, beyond “Hot girl kills monsters.  Also, explosions.”

Savages: (Scheduled) US, Crime/ Drama/ Thriller – I found this a most unpleasant experience.  Two pot growers face off against the Mexican drug cartel that kidnapped their shared girlfriend.  When the merciless head of the Mexican Baja Cartel, and her enforcer, underestimate the unbreakable bond of the three friends, they wage a seemingly unwinnable war against the cartel, thus starting a series of increasingly vicious ploys and maneuvers in a high stakes, savage battle of wills.

Directed by Oliver Stone and starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, and Blake Lively.  I think it’s well-done, and some of the directing and acting quite excellent, but it’s a vicious, bloody story told gleefully like an adolescent out to shock.  Rated R in the US for strong brutal and grisly violence, some graphic sexuality, nudity, drug use, and language throughout.  Generally favorable reviews.

9-9-81: Thai, Horror/ Mystery – A bride-to-be jumps to her death after she learns her fiancé has died.  But he hasn’t.  What really happened?  In a bit of a twist on the horror-anthology format, the points of view of the groom, the best friend and others who were acquainted or close to the couple are recounted in nine short segments of nine minutes each, by nine different directors.  For a total of 81 minutes!  That at least explains the title.  A 2D film, in Thai only, at Pattaya Beach and Big C only.

Chapter of Jan Dara: Thai, Drama/ Erotic – Currently the most popular film in Thailand.  Based on the most controversial novel in all of Thai literature (written in 1966), Jan Dara tells the story of a young man who moves into adulthood with terrible burdens thrown upon him in his youth.  His mother died while giving birth to him, causing his father to resent him deeply.  By the time he was 13, he was kicked out of his house, accused of a rape he did not commit.  Years later Jan Dara returns home bent on seeking revenge against his father.  But although he has always hated his father’s riotous ways, hateful demeanor, and his treatment of women – he has memories of his father in compromising positions with his nanny – it seems he might be destined to repeat the past in order to conquer it.

The film unfolds as he fights his demons amidst an environment of obsession, and comes to grips with three women in his life, each exerting control over him in their own unique ways.  This is just the first film in a planned two-part franchise. Rated 18+ in Thailand.  A 2D film, with English subtitles at Pattaya Beach and Major, Thai only at Big C.

Ted: US, Comedy/ Fantasy – This is truly a lot of fun, and I surprised myself by enjoying it immensely.  It’s co-written, produced, and directed by Seth MacFarlane, who stars in it along with Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis.

The story: John Bennett was a lonely child, who dearly wished for his new Christmas gift, a large teddy bear he names Teddy, to come to life to be his friend. The wish succeeds with a falling star and Ted became a fully mobile sentient being. John’s parents got over the shock, word of the miracle spread, and Ted was briefly a celebrity.  Now an adult, John has a problem with the bear: he refuses to leave his side.  Very funny, and Mark Wahlberg, who plays this nonsense straight and with utter conviction, is a hoot!

Rated R in the US for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug use.  Generally favorable reviews.  In 2D (English) at Pattaya Beach and Major; not playing at Big C.  Warning: It’s utter raunch, so don’t bring the kiddies, however much they might want to see a talking teddy bear.

The Possession: US, Horror/ Thriller – Eerily enjoyable pulp – stylish and truly spooky.  A young girl buys an antique box at a yard sale, unaware that inside the collectible lives a malicious ancient spirit.  The catch here is that the possession and the exorcism are not in the usual Christian framework, but a Jewish, and the “devil” is a “dybbuk.”

Mixed or average reviews, saying that it’s full of ghost-movie clichés, but is inspired by some degree of religious scholarship, and manages to create believable characters in a real world.  In 2D (English), except Thai-dubbed at Big C.

The Bourne Legacy: US, Action/ Adventure/ Thriller – The plot was generally incomprehensible to me, but there were a couple of outstanding scenes and chases.  This is a continuation of the Bourne stories focusing this time on Jeremy Renner as an agent in yet another CIA black ops program that the dirty powers-that-be decide to terminate, killing all involved.  It’s directed by Tony Gilroy, the screenwriter for the previous films.  I found Renner and his co-star Rachel Weisz to have a nice chemistry between them.

Generally favorable reviews, saying that it isn’t quite as compelling as the earlier trilogy, but nevertheless proves the franchise has stories left to tell – and benefits from Jeremy Renner’s magnetic work in the starring role.  In 2D (English) at Pattaya Beach and Major (as of Wednesday).

The Expendables 2: US, Action/ Thriller – I enjoyed most of this, and if you like this sort of imaginative mayhem, you will too.  Stars Bruce Willis, Jason Statham, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jet Li, and Sylvester Stallone; directed by Simon West.

Mixed or average reviews, saying in general that it’s a fun roundup of action stars who simultaneously celebrate and send up their former glories.  I say it’s redundant, bombastic, and cheekily self-aware.  Rated R in the US for strong bloody violence throughout. In 2D (English) at Pattaya Beach and Major, 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Big C.