Killer Elite and Three Musketeers fight it out for top spot
Time Out Dubai staff
Which would you rather see, Jason Statham and Clive Owen trying to kill each other or a band of legendary swordsmen trying to kill Orlando Bloom? No, not in real life, but on the cinema screen. See which of these capers has enticed more of you to the movies in the past week, earning more than Dhs2 million
in the process. But let's start with Jessica Alba ...
10 Spy Kids: All the Time in the World
This flick opens, gobsmackingly, with Jessica Alba’s heavily pregnant spy Marissa Wilson dispensing some crims before being whisked off to the labour ward. Her husband, Wilbur (McHale), a popular host of TV’s Spy Hunter programme who has no idea his own wife is a super spy, is over the moon with their new baby girl. But there’s ongoing friction within the family. His kids from an earlier marriage can’t stand their stepmother, yet all will be forgotten the moment they discover she’s a super-cool spy working on a case involving helium-voiced villain Tick Tock (Piven) and his elaborate plan to speed up time. For every strong visual effect, there’s a host of duff ones – the car chases are sped up and jerkily edited and give the film an uncomfortable cartoonish look. Kiddies will relish the over-the-top gadgetry – but anyone over the age of seven will find it a chore. Derek Adams Weekly box office: Dhs135,994 Weekly admissions: 3,784 Total box office: Dhs1,229,051 Total admissions: 29,349
9 Cowboys & Aliens
We open in Sergio Leone-land, as an amnesiac man with no name (Craig) rides into a desolate mining town. He may have no memory, but he can bring down a guy – in this case, a rodent-like irritant played by Paul Dano – with the speed of a rattlesnake. That’ll get people’s attention, and it isn’t long before our hero is face-to-grizzled-face with a crotchety Civil War colonel (Ford) who rules over the community with an iron fist. Time to draw six-shooters among the tumbleweeds…Hold on, are those lights in the sky? Indeed. Turns out there are some otherworldly prospectors on the prairie, the kind who need gold for fuel and human flesh for some icky-gooey experiments that an ethereal floozy (Wilde) seems to know more about than she’s letting on. The John Ford meets John Carter adventure that ensues should be a smashing good time, especially with these game performers. But Favreau’s direction is so boulder-heavy – the action sequences, especially the climactic assault on the alien mothership, are an eye-and-ear-shattering mess – that the small moments of poetry (a striking image of a steamboat overturned in the desert; a pointedly humorous discussion of manhood between Ford’s character and his young protégé) are lost amid too much digital sound and fury. Keith Uhlich Weekly box office: Dhs149,170 Weekly admissions: 4,477 Total box office: Dhs1,839,421 Total admissions: 51,937
8 Final Destination 5
Since 2000, this underrated horror franchise has turned viewers into building inspectors, eyeing wobbly ceiling fans and peering into every corner for impending doom. That’s actually high praise: it’s hard to think of another modern series so attuned to the thrills of editing and craft. Even with dull-as-dirt actors, the gimmick works, and a transition to 3D with the fourth chapter made visual sense. Of course, some kills were more fun than others: if you’re already onboard this morbid train, you’ll know that humour goes a long way in releasing the tension, and Final Destination 5 scores only half way. Kudos to the brutal dispatching of a swinish character via an acupuncture spa. A gorgeous girl’s mishap at the laser eye clinic is less inspired; even the expensive-looking setup disaster, a bridge collapse that puts the movie’s meagre you-can’t-cheat-death plot in motion, is a bit on the witless side. Also, someone has apparently told the writers that they’d like more scenes of hand-wringing and crying; among this cast of unluckies, there is no future Jamie Lee Curtis. But you do take the film home with you – to all your own toys – and that’s what decent horror is supposed to do. Joshua Rothkopf Weekly box office: Dhs264,837 Weekly admissions: 5,828 Total box office: Dhs 3,551,953 Total admissions: 75,122
7 The Tortured
A young couple, Elise (Christensen) and Craig (Metcalfe), have their lives turned upside down when their only son is kidnapped and murdered by a serial killer. As Elise becomes increasingly deranged, the pair grow determined to track down their child’s murderer and torture him for his crime. Though not a storyline we’ve already seen this year, the 2010 film has seen fairly limited release throughout the rest of the world – sparing millions the harsh fate of watching Bambi-eyed Metcalfe attempt to convince an audience of, well, anything. No such luck for the UAE. Shame. Holly Sands Weekly box office: Dhs205,399 Weekly admissions: 6,504 Total box office: Dhs205,399 Total admissions: 6,504
6 Rise of the Planet of the Apes
This standalone prequel to Franklin J Schaffner’s Planet of the Apes (1968) distinguishes itself from other ill-conceived reboots in general, and from Tim Burton’s disastrous 2001 remake, by looking with fresh, simian eyes at its core conflict between human and primates. The plot echoes elements of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972), the fourth movie in an already etiolated series. There are also some in-jokes, with the 1968 original even glimpsed on a TV screen at one point. Crucially, though, the events are seen from the point of view of the chimp Caesar, a CGI creature infused with an uncanny nascent humanity by Andy Serkis. The nature of the human/ape conflict has changed, too, with the racial discrimination so topical in the civil rights era of the late ’60s supplanted by contemporary fears about scientists who play God by experimenting on ‘inferior’ species. The chimp-based research into brain tissue regeneration conducted by scientist Will Rodman (James Franco) has a human element; his father, Charles (John Lithgow), has Alzheimer’s. Rodman concedes that the aggression displayed by the lab chimps dosed with the experimental drug means that they must be destroyed. However, when the unborn child of chimp Bright Eyes survives, Will takes him home, names him Caesar, and continues his discredited research in secret as Caesar grows into a super-intelligent adult chimp. Despite a quantum leap from his low-budget British prison movie The Escapist to this big-budget blockbuster, director Rupert Wyatt stages the climactic battle on the Golden Gate Bridge – a stunning set-piece featuring hundreds of life-like apes – with remarkable assurance. But his handling of the underdeveloped characters is never as convincing as the visual effects work, and there is far too much special pleading on behalf of the selectively violent apes. Nigel Floyd Weekly box office: Dhs303,720 Weekly admissions: 8,463 Total box office: Dhs4,307,799 Total admissions: 121,612
5 The Smurfs
In Raja Gosnell’s surreally awful live action-animation hybrid, the evil sorcerer Gargamel, played with self-respect-be-damned gusto by Hank Azaria, has driven a handful of Smurfs through a portal into modern Manhattan. There they take up with a harried PR man (Harris) and his twinkle-eyed pregnant wife (Jayma Mays). A succession of rather smurfin’-obvious gags (Papa et al conceal themselves in front of a Blue Man Group ad) and-is-this-really-happening? interludes (a Guitar Hero musical number set to Aerosmith’s ‘Walk This Way’) ensues. There’s some shameless trafficking in cultural stereotypes, from Scottish Smurf Gutsy’s love of haggis to the magical-mystical Asian bookshop that, shockingly, isn’t owned by Ken Jeong. But how nice that the film finally allows Joan Rivers and Michael Musto, playing themselves, to share some screen time. Smurftastic! Keith Uhlich Weekly box office: Dhs440,950 Weekly admissions: 10,871 Total box office: Dhs13,721,706 Total admissions: 318,830
4 Friends With Benefits
Right at the start of Friends with Benefits, Mila Kunis denounces Hollywood movies for peddling clichés about true love. She’s just been dumped by a drip with a peanut allergy and lets rip at a poster for a Katherine Heigl rom-com (‘Shut up Katherine Heigl, you stupid liar!’). The script is full of funny, bang-on references like this. And the chemistry between Kunis and her co-star Justin Timberlake is electric.She is a headhunter who recruits his art director to a swanky job on an NYC magazine. Both have sworn off relationships so make a pact: to have a no-strings-attached ‘friendship’. It really is smarter than your average rom-com – which is perhaps as much as you can hope for. But we’re never in any doubt as to the central ‘will they or won’t they?’ question. So for all its hyper-switched-on, nower-than-nowness it’s hard to see how it’s not just another Hollywood movie peddling true-love clichés. Cath Clarke Weekly box office: Dhs416,794 Weekly admissions: 10,970 Total box office: Dhs1,544,837 Total admissions: 42,618
3 Force (Hindi)
This Bollywood action thriller film directed by Nishikanth Kamath, starring John Abraham and Genelia D'Souza, is a remake of Gautham Menon's successful 2003 Tamil film, Kaakha Kaakha. A dutiful cop chases the capture of a dreaded gangster. Interesting fact: controversy broke out over a scene in which John and Genelia were married. Sources claim the ceremony was so authentic that, had they completed the last round, they would have actually been man and wife. Weekly box office: Dhs914,876 Weekly admissions: 31,587 Total box office: Dhs914,876 Total admissions: 31,587
2 The Three Musketeers
Paul WS Anderson’s efficient digital re-working of Alexander Dumas’s tale of seventeenth-century heroism, romance and friendship is notable only for its introduction of Terry Gilliam-esque, airborne war machines based on designs by Leonardo da Vinci. However, while these flying galleons facilitate some eye-catching aerial battles, the rest of the swashbuckling action is strictly for groundlings.
Anderson’s acknowledged model was Richard Lester’s 1973 version, though he has opted to cast actors not stars. Logan Lerman and Orlando Bloom come across as neither. It is impossible to see how the insipid Lerman’s callow wannabe musketeer, D’Artagnan, could help restore the mojos of Matthew Macfadyen’s love-lorn Athos, Ray Stevenson’s larger-than-life Porthos and Luke Evans’s jaded Aramis. Bloom is cast against type as the dastardly Duke of Buckingham, but is acted off the screen by Milla Jovovich, whose Milady de Winter uses her feminine wiles and fighting skills to survive in a man’s world. Otherwise, it’s one for all and all for nowt. Nigel Floyd
Weekly box office: Dhs2,150,954 Weekly admissions: 48,549 Total box office: Dhs2,150,954 Total admissions: 48,549
1 Killer Elite
With a beefcake physique suggesting oncoming harm, Jason Statham would have made a great ’80s action hero. But acknowledging that he could have kicked ass back then and having to endure a new muscle-neck magnum opus are different, as this film proves. Danny (Statham) is revered in the world of espionage. But as much as he likes blowing up stuff beside his mentor (De Niro), Danny is tired. His retirement is cut short when a pal is kidnapped by a man hunting those who murdered his sons. One of the killers (Owen) isn’t going gently. Cue black-ops missions, chest beating, clever quips and too many elbows to the face to count. By the time Statham beats the snot out of someone while tied to a chair, the skullduggery and schlocky dialogue has worn thin. A few awesome fire fights does not an action film make, and even De Niro’s Ronin-esque interlude can’t shake the feeling that the thrill, like the ’80s, is gone. David Fear Weekly box office: Dhs2,204,562 Weekly admissions: 63,345 Total box office: Dhs2,204,562 Total admissions: 63,345
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Montrealer in Dubz Oct 13, 2011 12:20 pm
I read your top 10... According to those reporting, none of them are worth watching. A little less critiscism of the movies please... Too much critiscism does not equal good reporting and doesnt necessarily spell good movie critic! Just a humble opinion...