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Let's Go To The Movies  by Mark Gernpy


Note:European Union Film Festival of 22 recent films to be shown at Vista, July 22 to 31. Free admission.

Note: As a result of the unwelcome publicity Major Cineplex has received lately with complaints over the number of previews and ads shown before the movie, they seem to have shaved off ten minutes, and are starting the ads five minutes before the announced film time. No more than 20 minutes of junk on Friday when I saw Green Lantern.

Now playing in Chiang Mai through June 22

Green Lantern: US, Action/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – A test pilot is granted a mystical green ring that bestows him with otherworldly powers, as well as membership into an intergalactic squadron tasked with keeping peace within the universe. Ryan Reynolds becomes one of the six Green Lanterns patrolling Sector 2814, which includes Earth. Also starring Mark Strong and Peter Sarsgaard. Much action on another world, which is nicely detailed visually. It’s good comic-book fun. Mixed or average reviews. English and both 3D and 2D at Airport Plaza, Thai-dubbed and 2D at Vista; I saw it in 2D.

Super 8: US, Mystery/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – This is a true delight. It’s like discovering an unknown but classic early Spielberg film, in the vein of E.T. or The Goonies. In the summer of 1979, a group of childhood friends in a small Ohio town witness a catastrophic train crash while making a Super 8 movie and soon suspect that it was not an accident. Shortly after, unusual disappearances and inexplicable events begin to take place in town, and the local Deputy tries to uncover the truth - something more terrifying than any of them could have imagined. The kids in the movie act like kids, there’s a plot, the action sequences are old fashioned in that you can follow them, there’s depth of emotion, and it’s just an exciting, heartfelt thrill-ride. And, there’s a fantastic train wreck! See it if you at all like this sort of thing. Steven Spielberg is producer, and the director J.J. Abrams apprenticed under Spielberg in a number of classic Spielbergiens. Not in 3D – it’s not needed or wanted. Generally favorable reviews.

Sex and Zen 3D: Extreme Ecstasy: Hong Kong, Drama/ Comedy/ Romance – The 3D is now shown only in 2D! Ballyhooed as the world's first 3D erotic film, just about its only reason for being, it’s now even less compelling than before. This is more comic than erotic to most reviewers, and with a disturbing violent streak that unpleasantly mixes the erotic with the painful, such as rape, and even death. Three minutes have been cut by Thai censors, though mainly through “trims” rather that “cuts.” The director says that even in Hong Kong, three minutes were trimmed. Key female protagonists are played by recognizable Japanese porn stars, and great rivers of pulsing flesh are apparently on view throughout. Rated 20 in Thailand, which means you must actually have ID with you that shows you are over 20. Now at both Chiang Mai locations, but only in a Thai-dubbed version.

X-Men: First Class: US, Action/ Adventure/ Drama/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – Smart, spectacular, often thrilling, always incredibly entertaining – they did everything right with this one. Following the classic Marvel mythology, the film charts the epic beginning of the X-Men saga. Before Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men – beautifully realized by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender – discovering their extraordinary mutant powers for the first time. Before they were archenemies, they were the closest of friends, working together with other Mutants (some familiar, some new), to stop the greatest threat the world had ever known. Includes the gifted actor (in my opinion) Kevin Bacon in one of his too-rare film appearances – and note how brilliantly but casually he tosses off the dialogue in German and Russian! Also features President John F. Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis, in a re-imagining of that near-catastrophic standoff. Generally favorable reviews. Film was never planned for 3D; the director, Matthew Vaughn, prefers 2D. English at Airport Plaza, Thai-dubbed at Vista.

Kung Fu Panda 2: US, Animation/ Action/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family – This is really good! The animation is great, in a couple of distinct styles, including shadow puppets. And it’s funny – I especially got a kick out of Dustin Hoffman this time around, voicing the local guru-mystic – hilarious!. Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, and Jackie Chan are among others in a stellar cast who lend their voices to the characters in this sequel to the very popular first installment. Po the Panda's new life of awesomeness as the Dragon Warrior is threatened by the emergence of a formidable villain, who plans to use a secret, unstoppable weapon to conquer China and destroy kung fu. Po and his friends must journey across China to face this threat and vanquish it. An awesome film, as much a hoot as the first film, but with a dark and adult side to it as well, dealing with serious personal issues, and a resolution that’s genuinely emotional and satisfying. Go see it! Generally favorable reviews. Now in 2D only, and the Vista version is Thai-dubbed.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: US, Action/ Adventure/ Fantasy – The latest in this great pop series, with a shipful of grand scenery-chewing British star swashbucklers. Here, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) crosses paths with a woman from his past (a delightful Penelope Cruz). Very enjoyable – the stars are terrific and the jokes and set pieces are funny and well done. If you liked the series before, you’ll like it again. Mixed or average reviews. In 2D only now, and at Vista it’s in a Thai-dubbed version.

Something Borrowed: US, Comedy/ Drama/ Romance – Two women think of themselves as the closet friends possible, ever since childhood. But one always gives, and one always takes, as though it were the natural thing to do. Finally, at age 30, the “giver” pauses to question the arrangement. Generally unfavorable reviews, but given the requirements of the romantic comedy, I didn’t think it that bad at all. Vista only.
Small Rule / Small Ru: Thai, Comedy/ Musical – Typical Thai comedy. In Thai only.

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