Friday, November 20, 2009

Review: The Scout

  • Directed by Pleo Sirisuwan
  • Starring Narathit Namkang, Pimpawee Kreuangsai
  • Released in Thai cinemas on October 29, 2009; rated G
  • Wise Kwai's rating: 2/5

An labored exercise in anti-climax, The Scout (Bit Pi-pop Ta-lu Lohk, บิดพิภพทะลุโลก) is a kid-friendly adventure yarn about children who enter an ancient temple and have to run from a giant snake and flying fanged toads.

The kids are pretty stereotypical. There's a new kid in school, Odd, who's arrived with a chip on his shoulder. He's befriended by another outcast, the skinny bespectacled nerd, Ball. Minnie, precocious girl class president hits Odd up for votes in the next election. Making life miserable for them all is the overweight bully Berm, who is bigger than all the other kids in his class because he's stupid and has had to repeat a grade.

The four bond on a Scouts' camping trip (in Thailand, girls are also in the Scouts), and on a dare from the fat kid they decide to check out a nearby temple to see if the legends they've read about there being a big snake are true.

Well, yes, they are true, just like in the guidebook they have, which was written by Dr. William (Yano Kazuki), who has been missing for years. And after the kids step through a secret doorway, it becomes sealed until an eclipse. And right away the giant snake is introduced so that there is really nowhere to go except to have to come back to that giant snake.

That is if they can outrun the slobbering fanged toads with bat wings that swarm around and are generally fun to watch.

Through the passages of the temple, the kids learn valuable lessons about one another -- girls and skinny nerds are a lot tougher than they appear and fat bullies are actually sensitive about their weight. And the new kid in town is still the new kid in town. To get out of the temple and past that giant snake, they'll all have to work together.

More fanciful CGI critters might have improved an otherwise dull story. But director Pleo Sirisuwan and his special effects supervisor and co-writer Parkpoom Suwatipanich probably gave us all they could with whatever budget they were working with for the Logo production house.

Pleo previously directed the insane genre-hopping jungle-fantasy-crime-drama-horror cult hit Vengeance. That one had no end of weird and wonderful CGI creations, and probably a bigger budget. Fans hoping for more of the same with The Scout will be disappointed. So be prepared.

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