Holmes is here!
Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, December 24, 2009
… through Tuesday, December 29
by Thomas Ohlson
Best Bet: Avatar. Sherlock Holmes.
This is Issue Number 8 of Volume 5 of these listings, into our fifth year!
Picture at right shows our favorite doctor (Watson) played by Jude Law
in this week’s film Sherlock Holmes.
Major Cineplex has a special: All regular seats 60 baht on Wednesdays, except for premium films.
Now playing in Chiang Mai * = new this week
* Sherlock Holmes: US/ UK/ Australia, Action/ Adventure/ Crime/ Drama/ Mystery/ Thriller – A new take on the Holmes canon. Apparently, once you get over the shock of seeing Sherlock played as an action figure, it isn’t all that bad. Robert Downey Jr. plays Holmes and Jude Law his stalwart partner Watson. Mixed or average reviews: 53/56 out of 100.
* The Storm Warriors 2 / Storm Riders 2: The Storm Warriors/ Fung wan II / 风云II: Hong Kong, Action/ Adventure/ Fantasy – 112 mins – A film produced and directed by the twins Oxide Pang Chun and Danny Pang, The Storm Warriors is described as a martial arts/wuxia film, andis the first Chinese film to extensively use bluescreen – shot entirely in three studios in Bangkok. In this sequel, the heroes of the first film, Wind and Cloud, find themselves up against a ruthless Japanese warlord intent on invading China. Most reviews so far applaud the style and not the substance.
* October Sonata: Thai, Drama/Romance – 90 mins – Sangchan is a girl working in a factory who falls in love with an attractive young student named Rawee, a leader of student activists whom she meets in October 8th of 1970 at a funeral of a comrade activist. . Rawee goes tostudy abroad, but he keeps a promise to come back to see Sangchan on October 8th of each year. But in October 1973, Rawee fails to show after being rounded up for his involvement in the October 14 uprising. But eventually they meet again, in another October.
* The Founding of a Republic / Jian guo da ye: China, Drama/ History – 138 mins – This film was made to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party’s founding of China. The film boasts the most number of China's movie stars in one film – many of the country’s top stars were invited to star as leads, supporting characters, or just a cameo in the film, including some of the top Chinese stars like Jackie Chan and Jet Li, who only have one shot or one line in the film. This political drama begins in 1945 and chronicles the Chinese Civil War, which eventually led to the Kuomintang’s retreat onto the island of Taiwan, as well as the Communist Party’s establishment of the new country in 1949. The film makes no pretense of doing anything other than recounting history from the current Chinese government’s point of view, and may prove to be a refreshing introduction. It’s propaganda, of course, but quite well done. Only in a Thai-dubbed version with no English subtitles, and only at Vista.
Avatar: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – 162 mins – From director James Cameron, a major achievement and a technological breakthrough. The story involves a band of humans pitted in battle against a distant planet's indigenous population. It’s a film of universal appeal that just about everyone who ever goes to the movies will see. The film delivers on all counts. Highly recommended; not to be missed. In English and Na'vi dialogue, with English and Thai subtitles as needed at Airport Plaza; Thai-dubbed only at Vista. Reviews as of Mon, 21 Dec, 9 am: Universal acclaim: 83/76 out of 100. In 3D in Cinema 3 at Airport Plaza, and 2D elsewhere there and at Vista. Vista version is Thai-dubbed only.
Rotten Tomatoes: Indeed a visionary picture, a movie of such sensorial power and majesty that you won't mind too much that the plotting and characters aren't quite as state-of-the-art. Sam Worthington stars as an ex-Marine who has replaced his twin brother as an Avatar driver in the alien world of Pandora; he soon finds his loyalties divided between the military and the Na'vi, the indigenous species on this strange planet. The pundits are wowed by Cameron's phantasmagorical visuals, which many agree mark a giant leap forward in the realm of special effects.
Roger Ebert: Watching Avatar, I felt sort of the same as when I saw Star Wars in 1977. That was another movie I walked into with uncertain expectations. James Cameron's film has been the subject of relentlessly dubious advance buzz, just as his Titanic was. Once again, he has silenced the doubters by simply delivering an extraordinary film. There is still at least one man in Hollywood who knows how to spend $250 million, or was it $300 million, wisely.
Avatar is not simply a sensational entertainment, although it is that. It's a technical breakthrough. It has a flat-out Green and anti-war message. It is predestined to launch a cult. It contains such visual detailing that it would reward repeating viewings. It invents a new language, Na'vi, as Lord of the Rings did, although mercifully I doubt this one can be spoken by humans, even teenage humans. It creates new movie stars. It is an Event, one of those films you feel you must see to keep up with the conversation.
“It is an Event, one of those films you feel you must see to keep up with the conversation.”
Pai in Love / ปายอินเลิฟ: Thai, Romance/ Comedy – 115 mins – Thai ensemble romantic comedy of six short films centered on a group of friends who take a winter vacation to the same place – Pai, northern Thailand's hippie retreat. Not terribly compelling, it could most charitably be characterized as your usual sub-adequate, substandard Thai comedy/ romance. (13+)
Scheduled for Chiang Mai cineplexes on Wednesday/ Thursday, December 30/ 31
The Treasure Hunter / Ci Ling / 刺陵: Taiwan, Romance/ Sci-Fi– 90 mins – A story about time-traveling lovers in Genghis Khan's Mongolia. In the northwest desert where countless prosperous dynasties have flourish and fallen, there is rumour of a buried treasure of unbelievable riches. A group of mysterious guardians have kept the map to the location of the treasure safe, until a fierce rivalry erupts. A notorious international crime group, The Company hunt down the map keepers and before they manage to secure it, the keeper passes the map to a young chivalrous man Ciao Fei (pop star-turned-actor Jay Chou). Ciao Fei is forced to give up the map to save the live of his mentor's daughter Lan Ting (former supermodel Lin Chi Ling). Teaming up with Hua Ding Bang (a famous archaeologist) and Lan Ting they embark on a dangerous journey to recover the map and fight to protect the ancient treasure. Starring: Jay Chou and Lin Chi-Ling. Director: Kevin Chu/ Yen-ping Chu. Side note: Jay Chou is in the just-finished film The Green Hornet where he plays the Asian manservant Kato; film is due here next December.
Kaskus: Ci Ling talks about a modern pair of young lovers, they accidentally fall into a time warp and arrive in Mongolia, they begin a struggle for treasure with a mysterious man at Ghengis Khan's tomb, as well as a triangle love link spanning time. Jay Chou plays Qiao Fei in the movie, he is the reincarnation of a desert eagle, he has the ability to solve various things within seconds, he has long hair at the back, he wears a brown leather coat and combat boots, his look seems like he is rich and has the tint of legends.
30 year old Lin Chi Ling takes on the challenge of playing a 25 year old female writer, she has hair down to her shoulders, she wears a red dress matched with flat brown boots, she looks very fashionable and matches well with Jay Chou.
32 Tan-Wah / 32 ธันวา: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – 90 mins – “Note” doesn''t know who he truely loves. When “Note” considers his confusing mind as an ailment, he goes for some unusual therapy.
Did You Hear About the Morgans?: US, Comedy/ Drama/ Romance – 103 mins – Starring: Hugh Grant, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sam Elliott, Mary Steenburgen. Generally unfavorable reviews: 27 out of 100.
Seattle Times, Moira Macdonald: Grant and Parker play an estranged New York power couple who have the great misfortune of witnessing a murder and thus becoming the immediate targets of a hit man. They're whisked into the witness protection program and sent to Ray, Wyo., a place populated by bears, rodeo cowboys and no Saks Fifth Avenue. And, well ... nothing much happens for the next 90 minutes. . . Toss this one on the ever-growing pile of failed Hollywood romantic comedies, and wish Grant and Parker better luck next time.
Orlando Sentinel, Roger Moore: Painful to watch.
As It Happens / บังเอิญรักไม่สิ้นสุด: Thai, Drama/ Romance – 90 mins – Director: Udom Udomroj. Another Thai romantic drama that takes place in far-off places.
And looking forward:
Jan 7, 2010 – Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant: US, Action/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Fantasy/ Horror/ Thriller – 108 mins – A young boy named Darren Shan meets a mysterious man at a freak show who turns out to be a Vampire. After a series of events Darren must leave his normal life and go on the road with the Cirque Du Freak and become a Vampire. Mixed or average reviews: 43/39 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes: Vampires are all the rage these days, so it makes sense that the 12-volume Cirque du Freak book series would be adapted for the silver screen. However, with The Vampire's Assistant, critics aren't exactly hailing the birth of a franchise. Chris Massoglia stars as a young man who mistakenly ends a truce in a 200-year-old vampire war; becoming a half-vampire means "dying" to his friends and family and plunging into the bloodsucking world. The pundits say The Vampire's Assistant is overstuffed and scattershot, uneasily mixing scares and laughs while leaving its characters underdeveloped.
Jan 7, 2010 – Bodyguards and Assassins / Shi yue wei cheng / 十月圍城: China, Action/ Drama/ History – In Mandarin – The film concerns efforts by a group of martial artists to protect Dr. Sun Yat-sen who is popularly referred as the Father of Modern China, from an assassination attempt while visiting Hong Kong to raise funds at the beginning of the 20th century. Directed by Teddy Chan, this isaction/drama film featuring an all-star cast including Donnie Yen, Leon Lai, and Nicholas Tse.
Jan 21, 2010 – Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: US, Animation/ Family – 90 mins – I know it sounds crazy, but the buzz is that it’s quite enjoyable. Generally favorable reviews: 66/64 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes: Quirky humor, plucky characters, and solid slapstick make this family comedy a frenetically tasty time at the movies.
Inspired by Ron and Judi Barrett's beloved children's book of the same name, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs follows inventor Flint Lockwood (voice of Bill Hader) and brainy weathergirl Sam Sparks (voice of Anna Faris) as they attempt to discover why the rain in their small town has stopped while food is falling in its place. Meanwhile, lifelong bully Brent (voice of Adam Samberg) relishes in tormenting Flint just as he did when they were kids, and Mayor Shelbourne (voice of Bruce Campbell) schemes to use Flint's latest invention--a device designed to improve everyone's lives--for his own personal gain. Mr.T. voices by-the-books cop Earl Devereaux, and James Caan voices Flint's technophobe father, Tim.
New York Daily News, Elizabeth Weitzman: Very likely the most fun your family will have this month.
Variety: Eye-popping and mouth-watering in one, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs spins a 30-page children's book into a 90-minute all-you-can-laugh buffet.
Jan 21, 2010 – The Spy Next Door: US, Action/ Comedy/ Family – With Jackie Chan. “Former CIA spy Bob Ho (Chan) takes on his toughest assignment to date: looking after his girlfriend's three kids, who haven't exactly warmed to their mom's beau. And when one of the youngsters accidentally downloads a top-secret formula, Bob's longtime nemesis, a Russian terrorist, pays a visit to the family.”