Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening March 31-April 5, 2011

Four years in the making, and repeatedly delayed year after year as the production dragged on and on, the third entry in director MC Chatrichalerm Yukol's Naresuan franchise finally hits the big screen this week with The Legend of King Naresuan Part III: Naval Battle (ตำนานสมเด็จพระนเรศวรมหาราชภาค 3 ตอน ยุทธนาวี, Tamnan Somdej Phra Naresuan Maharaj Part 3: Yutthanawee).

Having proclaimed sovereignty, King Naresuan the Great (Lt. Colonel Wanchana Sawasdee) faces a new threat from a spy in his midst. The traitor's flight in a Chinese junk leads to the vaunted river battle with an armada of royal barges. Later, Naresuan clamps a sword in this teeth as he battles the Burmese.

Along with Lt. Col "Bird" Wanchana, the cast returning for this outing includes Sorapong Chatree as the wise warrior monk, "Peter" Nopachai Jayanama as Naresuan's boyhood friend Lord Rachamanu, Taksaorn Paksukcharoen as the king's companion Lady Maneechan, Chatchai Plengpanich as King Thamaracha, Grace Mahadumrongkul as the king's sister Princess Supankulayanee and Inthira Charoenpura as the warrior woman Lurkin.

The lavish, sweeping concept of the Naresuan films builds on what "Than Mui" Chatrichalerm started with his 2002 historical epic Suriyothai, which was the most expensive Thai film at the time and still holds the box-office record with earnings of 500 million baht.

With a cast of thousands, including a literal army of extras (actual Royal Thai Army soldiers) and a purpose-built studio in Kanchanaburi Province, the scale of the Naresuan films is like nothing ever attempted before in Thailand. Even Hollywood isn't making movies like this anymore – they just use CGI.

Still to come is The Legend of King Naresuan Part IV: Elephant Battle, which will depict "the great Battle of Yuthahatthi", probably the last great conflict of the war-elephant era, in which Naresuan fought the Burmese crown prince. Part 4 had initially been penciled in for release around August 12, Her Majesty the Queen's birthday. But it's still being filmed and is now a contender for release on the next auspicious date on the calendar, December 5, His Majesty the King's birthday.

I've been told that English-subtitled prints are slow in coming and probably won't start unspooling in most central Bangkok cinemas until sometime on Saturday. The websites for Major Cineplex and SF cinemas indicate that Paragon Cineplex and SFW CentralWorld have subtitles, but check at the box office to make sure.

In the meantime, take a look at the trailer if you haven't seen it already. Rated P.

Also opening

Hop – E.B., the son of the Easter Bunny, wants to leave the family business and become a rock drummer. But on his way to Hollywood, he's hit by a car driven by Fred (James Marsden), a slacker dude. E.B. then feigns injury in order to move in with Fred and live the life of a young bachelor. Meanwhile, the evil Easter Chick is making plans to take over the holiday. And a trio of "Pink Beret" commando bunnies are sent to find E.B. British comedian Russell Brand is the voice of E.B. and the voice cast also includes Hank Azaria as the Easter Chick and Hugh Laurie as Mr. Bunny. Live-action stars include Gary Cole, Elizabeth Perkins, Mel Brooks and David Hasselhoff. This movie is directed by Tim Hill, who previously did Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties and Alvin and the Chipmunks, and it's the same blend of cartoonishly creepy CGI characters interacting with befuddled-looking live-action actors. Chris Meledandri, who previously did Despicable Me, is producing. There's no critical reception yet because the movie is just being released worldwide this weekend, but I can't imagine this getting very good reviews. Rated G.

The Roommate – A college student (Minka Kelly) finds that her roommate (Leighton Meester) is dangerously obsessed with her. Cam Gigandet also stars. It's directed by Danish filmmaker Christian E. Christiansen. Critical reception is mostly negative. At SF cinemas. Rated 18+.

Take note

There's only three movies opening this week in order to clear the decks for Naresuan 3, which will be taking up the bulk of screens. This is also a short week, with more new releases coming early next week, on Wednesday, April 6, which is Chakri Memorial Day, a national holiday. That will be a warm-up for the Songkran holiday, starting Wednesday, April 13, and most movies that week will open that day.

No comments:

Post a Comment