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Let's Go To The Movies  by Mark Gernpy

 
 

Now playing in Chiang Mai through October 24

Frankenweenie 3D: US, Comedy/ Animation/ Horror/ Sci-Fi – I have to list this first, as I am a fan and admirer of Tim Burton, the writer and director. And of animation. This is a moderately budgeted film rich in imagination: it’s in black and white, and it uses an animation format known as stop motion, which is modestly inexpensive but requires painstaking attention to detail.

Tim Burton used this format before, in The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Corpse Bride. I have every expectation that this will be dark and delightful. The story: After unexpectedly losing his beloved dog Sparky, young Victor Frankenstein harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life – with just a few minor adjustments. Generally favorable reviews, calling it an energetic stop-motion horror movie spoof with lovingly crafted visuals and a heartfelt, oddball story. Once a day until next Tuesday, 23 Oct, then full-time. Airport Plaza only.

Rain – The Best Show 3D: Korea, Musical/ Concert – A 3D movie featuring K-pop international star Rain’s last concert before his military enlistment last October. The concert was filmed in September 2011 at Seoul Olympic Park’s Gymnastics Stadium during the last stop of his world tour. The 1 hour and 35 minutes 3D movie features the highlights of the 2 hour 30 minute concert. The movie features Rain’s energy-packed performances including some of his most famous songs, such as “How to Avoid the Sun,” “Rainism,” and “Bad Guy.” The 3D effects heighten the intensity of the concert. Just remember this is basically a concert movie, with no storyline, no plot, just the star and his dancers. In 3D, English subtitles, once a day, at Airport Plaza only.

Looper: US/ China, Action/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – Now the top box office draw in Thailand. A highly acclaimed Sci-Fi movie starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a mob hitman who assassinates targets that arrive blindfolded from the future. For him it's just a job ... till a new target he receives turns out to be himself from the future. He hesitates, resulting in the escape of his older self. Also stars Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt. Rated R in the US for strong violence, language, some sexuality/nudity, and drug content; 18+ here. Reviews: Universal acclaim, calling it as thought-provoking as it is thrilling, and delivers an uncommonly smart, bravely original blend of futuristic sci-fi and good old-fashioned action. English at Airport Plaza, Thai-dubbed at Vista.

Argo: US, Drama/ Thriller – Based on true events, the film chronicles the life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans, which unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis — the truth of which was unknown by the public for decades. On November 4, 1979, as the Iranian revolution reaches its boiling point, militants storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage. But, in the midst of the chaos, six Americans manage to slip away and find refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador. Knowing it is only a matter of time before the six are found out and likely killed, a CIA “exfiltration” specialist comes up with a risky plan to get them safely out of the country. Directed by Ben Affleck and staring him and Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, and Victor Garber. Rated R in the US for language and some violent images; 13+ in Thailand. Reviews now: universal acclaim, saying it’s a crackerjack political thriller told with intelligence, great period detail, and a surprising amount of nutty humor for a serious look at the Iran hostage crisis of 1979-81. English at both locations.

Doraemon: Nobita and the Island of Miracles - Animal Adventure: Japan, Animation – An anime film based on the popular manga and anime series Doraemon. The story goes like this: Nobita and Doraemon use the time tree and catch a huge bird which has been extinct for some 500 years. To protect the animal from extinction, Nobita and Doraemon take it to the safe island of Beremon, which is protected by a golden beetle. Thai-dubbed only, at Airport Plaza only.

Paranormal Activity 4: US, Horror/ Thriller – The fourth installment of this found-footage series is the story of Katie and Micah, and takes place five years after Paranormal Activity 2, which ended with Katie kidnapping Hunter. This new story follows the life of Alice, her boyfriend Alex, her mother, and her brother Wyatt, as paranormal activity starts to occur in their home when Katie and Hunter (now called Robbie) move into the neighborhood. Rated R in the US for language and some violence/terror; 18+ in Thailand. Mixed or average reviews. Airport Plaza only, in English.

My Name is Love: Thai, Drama/ Romance – A bad boy falls for the girl next door, but he isn't sure if she would accept his love as he once rejected her love when they were young. Stars Arak Amornsupasiri. English at Airport Plaza, Thai only at Vista.

Yak: The Giant King: Thai, Animation/ Adventure – This Thai animated film is loosely based on the Ramayana epic, told through the adventures of a couple of tin robots. Another large step forward for Thai animation. It’s from a highly successful pop-oriented producing company famous for fashioning numerous hit TV series that are usually derided by critics. But Prapas Cholsaranon – one of the chief creative geniuses of the company – has a definite vision for Thai pop culture. He is one of the two driving forces behind this film, the other being the chief animator, Chaiyaporn Panichrutiwong, trained at US animation studios, and the chief draftsman of the film. An innovative and distinctly Thai film. It’s a 2D film, in Thai, with English subtitles only at Airport Plaza.

The two creators have an interesting comment on the film’s suitability for children. While "Yak" is an animation, both Chaiporn and Prapas admit that it might not be suitable for a very young audience. "The tone is more 'Harry Potter'," says Chaiporn. "The story has different layers of ideas that are suitable for adults but can entertain kids also. Young children shouldn't be brought to see it. In any case, watching any film in a theatre is wrong for that age because the sound is just too loud," Prapas says.

Taken 2: France, Action/ Crime/ Drama/ Thriller – Liam Neeson returns as a retired CIA agent who stops at nothing to save his daughter from Albanian kidnappers. Directed by Olivier Megaton (Colombiana), it’s a sequel to the 2008 film. Mixed or average reviews, saying it’s a cynical, contemptuous film whose sole reason for existing appears to be to squeeze the pockets of anyone who enjoyed the first movie. Those seemingly in the know claim that the fine film this was originally mostly lies on the cutting room floor, as the filmmakers tried for a less restrictive rating and broader audience. In Digital 2D (English) at both locations, with Vista showing another regular 2D version (Thai-dubbed).

Saranae Osekai: Thai, Comedy – Willy and Hoi, the two pranksters from the popular Thai prank show called "Saranae," travel to Japan to seek new inspiration for their basically slapstick show. In Thai only at both locations.
Note: Most everything at Airport Plaza is Digital. Everything at Vista is in 2D, and generally Thai only.


Now playing in Chiang Mai through October 17

Looper: US/ China, Action/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – A much anticipated Sci-Fi movie starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a mob hitman who assassinates targets that arrive blindfolded from the future. For him it's just a job ... till a new target he receives turns out to be himself from the future. He hesitates, resulting in the escape of his older self. Also stars Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt. Rated R in the US for strong violence, language, some sexuality/nudity, and drug content. Reviews: Universal acclaim, calling it as thought-provoking as it is thrilling, and delivers an uncommonly smart, bravely original blend of futuristic sci-fi and good old-fashioned action. English at Airport Plaza, Thai-dubbed at Vista.
Argo: US, Drama/ Thriller – Based on true events, “Argo” chronicles the life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans, which unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis—the truth of which was unknown by the public for decades. On November 4, 1979, as the Iranian revolution reaches its boiling point, militants storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage. But, in the midst of the chaos, six Americans manage to slip away and find refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador. Knowing it is only a matter of time before the six are found out and likely killed, a CIA “exfiltration” specialist named Tony Mendez comes up with a risky plan to get them safely out of the country. A plan so incredible, it could only happen in the movies. Directed by Ben Affleck and staring him and Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, and Victor Garber. Rated R in the US for language and some violent images; 13+ in Thailand. Reviews now: universal acclaim, saying it’s a crackerjack political thriller told with intelligence, great period detail, and a surprising amount of nutty humor for a serious look at the Iran hostage crisis of 1979-81. English at both locations.
My Name is Love: Thai, Drama/ Romance – A bad boy falls for the girl next door, but he isn't sure if she would accept his love as he once rejected her love when they were young. Stars Arak Amornsupasiri. English at Airport Plaza, Thai only at Vista.
Yak: The Giant King: Thai, Animation/ Adventure – Now the top box office draw in Thailand, this delightful Thai animated film is loosely based on the Ramayana epic, told through the adventures of a couple of tin robots. Another large step forward for Thai animation. It’s from a highly successful pop-oriented producing company famous for fashioning numerous hit TV series that are usually derided by critics – shows like “Thailand’s Got Talent.” But Prapas Cholsaranon – one of the chief creative geniuses of the company – is a sort of Renaissance man who writes fiction and non-fiction, composes songs, directs plays, and has a definite vision for Thai pop culture. He is one of the two driving forces behind this film, the other being the chief animator, Chaiyaporn Panichrutiwong, trained at US animation studios, and the chief draftsman of the film. An innovative and distinctly Thai film. It’s a 2D film, in Thai, with English subtitles only at Airport Plaza.
The two creators have an interesting comment on the film’s suitability for children. While "Yak" is an animation, both Chaiporn and Prapas admit that it might not be suitable for a very young audience. "The tone is more 'Harry Potter'," says Chaiporn. "The story has different layers of ideas that are suitable for adults but can entertain kids also. Young children shouldn't be brought to see it. In any case, watching any film in a theatre is wrong for that age because the sound is just too loud," Prapas says.
Finding Nemo 3D: Australia/ US, Animation/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family – The brilliant Pixar film, Academy Award winner in 2004 for best animated feature, updated with 3D and refurbished sound. Critics say the new sound and 3D simply adds to the greatness that is Nemo. Original 2003 reviews: Universal acclaim. In 3D in both English and Thai-dubbed versions at Airport Plaza. Not at Vista. Another chance to see a classic as it was meant to be seen. A funny and touching story, superb visuals, wonderful characters. See it!
Taken 2: France, Action/ Crime/ Drama/ Thriller – Liam Neeson returns as a retired CIA agent who stops at nothing to save his daughter from Albanian kidnappers. Directed by Olivier Megaton (Colombiana), it’s a sequel to the 2008 film of the same name. Mixed or average reviews, saying it’s largely bereft of the kinetic thrills and surprises that made the original a hit. A cynical, contemptuous film whose sole reason for existing appears to be to squeeze the pockets of anyone who enjoyed the first movie. Those seemingly in the know claim that the fine film this was originally mostly lies on the cutting room floor, as the filmmakers tried for a less restrictive rating and broader audience. In Digital 2D (English) at both locations, with Vista showing another regular 2D version (Thai-dubbed).
Stolen: US, Action/ Thriller – A former thief (Nicolas Cage) frantically searches for his missing daughter, who has been kidnapped and locked in the trunk of a taxi. Rated R in the US for some violence and brief language. Directed by Simon West (The Expendables 2). Early reviews: generally negative, saying that the longest stretch of logical plotting lasts about forty seconds, and the deep-rooted silliness makes it hard to take anything in the film seriously. English at Airport Plaza, Thai-dubbed at Vista.
Resident Evil 5: Retribution: Germany/ Canada, Action/ Horror/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – I saw it in 2D and I think 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.
Silly and empty-headed it is indeed, and you will shake your head in disbelief at what you’re asked to swallow. However, there are stretches where the movie craft lulls you into a mesmerizing half-trance in which the succession of fantastic and imaginative images can be a rather enjoyable experience.
Rated R in the US for sequences of strong violence throughout; 18+ in Thailand. Generally unfavorable reviews. Shown now in 2D (English) at Airport Plaza, 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Vista.
Note: Most everything at Airport Plaza is Digital. Everything at Vista is in 2D, and generally Thai only.


Playing in Chiang Mai

What’s wrong with this picture? The central hand railing is gone! Be careful when walking up the steps at Airport Plaza’s Vista Theatre.

Note: Please help by complaining to the staff of Major Cineplex at Airport Plaza about the dangerous condition of their grand staircase. It’s an accident waiting to happen. The central hand railing has been removed, leaving no hand railings at all. A danger for everyone who has a problem with balance or walking.

End of Watch: US, Crime/ Drama/ Mystery/ Thriller – I think probably the best cop-buddy film I’ve seen. And it’s much more – could be considered a sociological study, raising questions about the shaky structure of society and the pros and cons of even having law enforcement. It’s my upbringing for sure, but I truly felt assaulted by the language – there were stretches of dialogue in which 99% of the words were profanity – for a total of 325 uses of the “f” word, nearly 100 uses of the “s” word, and scads of other obscenities, vulgarities, profanities, and epithets, in English and Spanish. Stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pe๑a, giving outstanding performances. Rated R in the US for strong violence, some disturbing images, pervasive language including sexual references, and some drug use; 18+ here. Generally favorable reviews, saying that thanks to its energy, devotion to characters, and charismatic performances, End of Watch overcomes the familiar pitfalls of both its genre and its handheld format to become a fresh and exciting thriller. David Ayer’s latest cop-drama is gritty, violent, and full of perfect moments of flawlessly recreated reality. In 2D (English) at Airport Plaza, 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Vista. I recommend it.

Taken 2: (Scheduled) France, Action/ Crime/ Drama/ Thriller – Liam Neeson returns as a retired CIA agent who stops at nothing to save his daughter from Albanian kidnappers. Directed by Olivier Megaton, it’s a sequel to the 2008 film. Early reviews: generally negative (Rotten Tomatoes), saying it’s most definitely not the great sequel that we were all hoping for; a cynical, contemptuous film whose sole reason for existing appears to be to squeeze the pockets of anyone who enjoyed the first movie.

Yak: The Giant King: (Scheduled) Thai, Animation/ Adventure – Thoroughly delightful Thai animated film loosely based on the Ramakian epic, told through the adventures of a couple of robots.

Finding Nemo 3D: (Scheduled) Australia/ US, Animation/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family – The brilliant Pixar film, Academy Award winner in 2004 for best animated feature, updated with 3D and refurbished sound. Critics say the new sound and 3D simply adds to the greatness that is Nemo. Original 2003 reviews: Universal acclaim.

Looper: (Scheduled) US, Action/ Sci-Fi – A much anticipated Sci-Fi movie starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a mob hitman who assassinates targets that arrive from the future. For him it’s just a job ... till a new target he receives turns out to be himself from the future.

Stolen: US, Action/ Thriller – A former thief (Nicolas Cage) frantically searches for his missing daughter, who has been kidnapped and locked in the trunk of a taxi. Rated R in the US for some violence and brief language. Directed by Simon West (The Expendables 2). Early reviews: generally negative, saying that the longest stretch of logical plotting lasts about forty seconds, and the deep-rooted silliness makes it hard to take anything in the film seriously. In 2D (English) at Airport Plaza, 2D (Thai-dubbed) at Vista.

Savages: US, Crime/ Drama/ Thriller – I found this a most unpleasant experience in almost every way possible. Two pot growers face off against a Mexican drug cartel that kidnapped the girlfriend they share. Directed by Oliver Stone and starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, and Blake Lively. Most of the secondary acting is well-done – particularly Benicio Del Toro, who gives a performance of such terrifying viciousness that he is unwatchable. Having seen it again, I am amazed at not only the intensity of the viciousness of Del Toro’s character, but also the depth and fullness of the character.

However, the three main characters give banal pot-headed performances, most often speaking boring dialogue that grates on the nerves and never gives us any reason to care what happens to them. It’s a vicious, vacuous, bloody story told like an adolescent out to gleefully shock by publicly splashing around in pools of blood – yes, I mean the revered Oliver Stone. Nobody needs this trash. Rated R in the US for strong brutal and grisly violence, some graphic sexuality, nudity, drug use, and language throughout; 18+ here. Mixed or average reviews. In 2D (English) at Airport Plaza only.

Dredd 3D: US/ UK/ India, Action/ Sci-Fi – This film portrays the future America as an irradiated waste land. On its East Coast, running from Boston to Washington DC, lies a vast, violent metropolis where criminals rule the chaotic streets. The only force of order lies with the urban cops called “Judges” who possess the combined powers of judge, jury, and instant executioner. Known and feared throughout the city, Dredd is the ultimate Judge, challenged with ridding the city of its latest scourge – a dangerous drug known as “Slo-Mo” which causes users to experience reality at a fraction of its normal speed. Rated R in the US for strong bloody violence, language, drug use, and some sexual content; 18+ in Thailand. Mixed or average reviews. Shown in 3D (English) and 2D (English) at Airport Plaza. At Vista: regular 2D (Thai-dubbed).

I appreciate the different crafts that go into making a movie, and am overjoyed when done really well. So I loved the art direction and scene design here, which I thought extraordinary. I truly enjoyed the experiments in slow-motion photography; there were some really exceptionally beautiful sequences. But not the ripping apart of human bodies; not the splattering of blood. Those, I regret to say, should be censored.

Resident Evil 5: Retribution: Germany/ Canada, Action/ Horror/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – Still the most popular movie in town. Having now seen it (in 2D) I can tell you that 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.

Silly and empty-headed it is indeed, and you will shake your head in disbelief at what you’re asked to swallow. Actually, these are training films, to get you to believe more and more impossible things before breakfast. By the end of this film you will be able to believe oh, maybe 37 impossible things with no problem.

I don’t know exactly why the violence in this film – like the X-ray visions of bones breaking and hearts exploding – doesn’t bother me the way the violence in Dredd and Savages does, but maybe it’s because here it’s so over the top that it’s distanced somehow, while in the other two films the violence is up close and personal, and terribly convincing.

Rated R in the US for sequences of strong violence throughout. Generally unfavorable reviews. Shown now in 2D (English) at Airport Plaza. At Vista: Digital 2D (English) and regular 2D (Thai-dubbed).).

Note: Most everything at Airport Plaza is Digital. Everything at Vista is in 2D, and generally Thai only.

For updated movie information and reviews, check the Chiang Mai Mail movie column online. It’s updated every Saturday!


 
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Now playing in Chiang Mai through October 24

Now playing in Chiang Mai through October 17

Playing in Chiang Mai