Greek fantasy sits proudly on top of UAE box office chart
Time Out Dubai staff
‘Fight for honour, fight for your children, fight for your future, fight for immortality!' yells muscular Henry Cavill when his peaceful province is invaded by the dastardly Mickey Rourke. It is unlikely that Immortals will go on to achieve movie eternity, but it is certainly sleighing all comers at the UAE box office right now. The visually spectacular Tarsem Singh outing has raked in more than Dhs3.6million at the box office, but has received, er, mixed reviews from critics (to put it politely ...). Read on to see what we at Time Out think of it.
See what else made it into the box office top 10 this week. To read reviews of all 10 movies, click here.
10 Dolphin Tale 3D
Pack a few hankies for this warm-hearted but schmaltzy pic, based on the story of Winter, an injured bottlenose dolphin rehabilitated at Florida’s Clearwater Marine Hospital. Regrettably, the dolphin has its tail amputated. But, in a rousing case of humanity, Winter’s carers – pulling out all the stops – persuade a prosthetics expert to mould a new tail. Director Charles Martin Smith transforms the story into a sentimental bonding tale about a withdrawn youngster whose own demons are exorcised by spending time with the recuperating mammal. Smith’s uneven cliché fest comes packaged with all the trappings of the earnest, melodramatic crowd-pleaser. But as much as it grates, it still manages to warm the cockles. Derek Adams Weekly box office: Dhs138,658 Weekly admissions: 3,374 Total box office: Dhs1,175,017 Total admissions: 26,002
9 The Tree of Life
The new film from Badlands and Days of Heaven director Terrence Malick is jam-packed with brilliance, and its ambition and willingness to lay itself open to interpretation are hard to fault. But it’s also hard not to conclude that this hugely anticipated, epic movie from the lesser-spotted, 67-year-old poet of American cinema is a work that stretches itself so broadly by asking Big Questions that it ends up dealing in platitudes. Still, The Tree of Life, which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes back in May, offers breathtaking imagery and even manages to survive an epic detour to the dawn of time, featuring the Big Bang, dinosaurs, meteors and all. It’s so ambitious and full of inquiring ideas and questions about our place in the world that, perhaps inevitably, it feels like a grand folly – albeit a heartfelt and stimulating one. If The Tree of Life sounds like a swirl of images and ideas, suggestions and juxtapositions, that’s exactly what it is. Taken alone, the film’s imagery should give great pleasure to Malick’s fans and newcomers alike. And yet, for all the grand ideas and the sweep of history at its core, the film seems repetitive and even simplistic. While it fascinates as much as it frustrates, the movie’s saving grace is that it always feels honest and never cynical. It seems both relevant to us and personal to the filmmaker. It doesn’t always communicate well, and when it does, it can be trite, but it’s a film that’s incredibly beautiful and wide open for the taking.
Dave Calhoun Weekly box office: Dhs116,687 Weekly admissions: 3,387 Total box office: Dhs116,687 Total admissions: 3,387
8 In Time
“Ticktock on the clock, but the party don’t stop.” So sang that great philosopher of our times Ke$ha, whose words are surely gospel to the ruling classes of Andrew Niccol’s innocuous dystopian thriller. In the Truman Show scribe’s imagined future, time is the only commodity. Once you hit a quarter century, your twentysomething features freeze and a neon-green clock on your arm starts counting down the days to expiration. If you’re among the lucky few who “come from time”, you can practically live forever. But if you’re a ghetto dweller like Will Salas (Timberlake), existence is literally a day-by-day proposition. That is until Will is gifted 100 years by a suicidal octogenarian pretty boy (well played by Bomer) and starts turning the system against itself with the help of a rebellious rich girl (Seyfried). The film’s premise is both exceedingly clever and cannily bankable. (A Hollywood production in which every character has to be 25 or under? Score!) But Niccol’s attempts at satire are toothless, relying mostly on limp turns of phrase – “Clean his clock” – or stale sight gags, e.g., JT’s mom is played by the younger-than-he-is Olivia Wilde. Once In Time fully embraces its inner fight-the-power! action flick, this generic future-shock allegory makes even less of an impression. Keith Uhlich Weekly box office: Dhs147,691 Weekly admissions: 3,852 Total box office: Dhs2,160,326 Total admissions: 58,086
7 Where Do We Go Now?
This acclaimed film documents the lives of Lebanese women trying to ease the tensions between Christians and Muslims. It was unconfirmed as Time Out went to press whether the UAE release would carry English subtitles – check with the cinema before booking. Rob Garratt Weekly box office: Dhs256,234 Weekly admissions: 7,466 Total box office: Dhs256,234 Total admissions: 7,466
6 Johnny English Reborn
Eight years after his first celluloid airing, Rowan Atkinson’s Bean-meets-Bond creation gets to bungle another day. This time, the filmmakers take the plot more seriously, bringing MI-7’s least special agent out of retirement for a rendezvous in Hong Kong. Some of the hi-jinks are amusing, including an eye-watering training session at a temple. But too often the gags are smile-worthy not thigh-slapping. It’s very undemanding, though the enthusiastic granny bashing does provide a quantum of solace. Trevor Johnston Weekly box office: Dhs 274,022 Weekly admissions: 7,996 Total box office: Dhs7,598,777 Total admissions: 221,605
5 Shareh Al Haram (Arabic)
Comedy flick Share’ El Haram (El Haram Street) tells the story of Zizi (Dina), who catches the eye of Adel (Labib), a promiscuous lawyer and regular at Zizi’s shows. Zizi rejects Adel’s advances, and is forced to use her charms to fend off the lawyer. Arabic film critics call the film ‘forgettable’ and ‘a chop-shop of cheap and sexist jokes’. Weekly box office: Dhs286,852 Weekly admissions: 9,093 Total box office: Dhs 286,852 Total admissions: 9,093
4 Tak Tak Boom (Arabic)
This Arabic comedy revolves around a man living in one of Egypt’s shantytowns during the events of the 18-day popular uprising that ousted president Hosni Mubarak. When the government paid thugs to terrorise Egyptians out of revolting, civilians countered by setting up neighbourhood committees to protect their homes and apartment buildings. Residents sat on the streets overnight in shifts with whatever weapons they had and set up check points for cars. The film follows a man, played by the comedy actor Mohamed Saad, as he encounters different situations as he's participating in one of the committees. Ironically, the film is produced by Isaad Younis, who held many campaigns against pirating. Weekly box office: Dhs326,785 Weekly admissions: 10,173 Total box office: Dhs2,071,463 Total admissions: 63,178
3 Tower Heist
More time-passing fluff from ‘Rush Hour’ maestro Brett Ratner, which puts a quality cast through their paces, alternates chuckles with spectacle and is pleasantly unpretentious with it. The tower in question overlooks New York’s Central Park and hosts serviced apartments where uniformed staff tend to super-wealthy residents – among them deliciously slippery Alan Alda as an investment kingpin whose arrest on fraud charges brings the shock that he’s lost the staff pension fund entrusted to him by likeably harrassed manager Ben Stiller. As the title suggests, the workers strike back not by pitching tents in the lobby but attempting to nab Alda’s stash from his penthouse pad. Hence there’s mild underdogs-on-a-mission japery, a clichéd assist from career-crook Eddie Murphy and a finale which might have been a bit more tense had we been able to take it remotely seriously. Still, that’s the price of unashamed escapism, and though it’s hard to get excited by this amiable potboiler, ‘Tower Heist’ is so at home with its limitations it’s equally hard to dislike. Trevor Johnston Weekly box office: Dhs813,267 Weekly admissions: 23,272 Total box office: Dhs3,821,070 Total admissions: 107,174
2 The Adventures of Tintin
Many questioned director Steven Spielberg and producer Peter Jackson’s decision to render Hergé’s classic comic-book adventures in performance-capture animation. But it’s hard to imagine that either live action or traditional animation would have been capable of producing the thrilling blend of high drama, physical authenticity and visual invention found here. We first meet our ageless hero sitting for an artist’s portrait in his unspecified home town. Tintin’s eye is caught by a junk stall and a model ship on display. This is the Unicorn – a 16th-century three-masted galleon that went down with all hands and a belly full of booty. The hunt for this treasure will send Tintin, his faithful dog Snowy and a mounting cadre of supporting players on a voyage across oceans and deserts, by ship, plane, jeep, motorbike and, perhaps most memorably, haulage crane. Spielberg and a crack team of British comedy writers – Joe Cornish, Edgar Wright, Steven Moffat – fill the screen with wonderfully bizarre and memorable characters, chiefly Captain Haddock, a floundering soak gloriously realised by Andy Serkis. And while this means a few characters get overlooked – we never get a handle on Daniel Craig’s moustache-twirlingly villainous Sakharine – it does make for a notable absence of dull moments. Visually, the film is astounding. A mid-film flashback sequence, as Haddock recounts the sinking of the Unicorn, must rank as one of the director’s finest set-pieces, a dizzying mish-mash of impossible tracking shots and some of the most inventive scene transitions ever devised. It may lack the depth and humanity of masterpieces like Jaws and ET, yet Tintin is the finest example of Spielberg’s family-friendly fun side since Jurassic Park. It’s also the most creative, enjoyable and invigorating blockbuster of the year. Tom Huddleston Weekly box office: Dhs1,083,051 Weekly admissions: 24,060 Total box office: Dhs4,822,487 Total admissions: 104,132
Oooh! Pretty pictures! Tarsem Singh’s talent for the visual is on full display in Immortals, a beefcake sword-and-sandals epic buffed to a glowing 3-D digi-shine. Ancient Greece never looked or sounded quite like this: Combatants and deities alike model spectacular Eiko Ishioka costumes while wielding fiery whips, head-obliterating chains, and testicle-crushing hammers that would make Thor jealous. And let’s not forget the legendary Epirus Bow, a mythical weapon sought by the ruthless King Hyperion (Rourke) so he can unleash the imprisoned Titans and declare war on the gods of Olympus. Standing in this warrior regent’s way is the pectorally gifted peasant Theseus (Cavill), who’s none-too-pleased with the monarch for slashing his defenseless mother’s throat. (Hyperion’s growly kiss-off line, “Witness…Hell!,” is the “This is Sparta!” of 2011.) An alluring oracle (Pinto) and a wily thief (Dorff) are Theseus’ companions on his vengeful quest, which means they supply come-hither expressions and pithy asides as needed. Tarsem’s geometrically composed frames never fail to impress; even blood-gushing decapitated heads fall as if on a preplanned parabola, and the eye candy helps to distract from a script that’s about 50 generations removed from original. But strangely enough, the broad-brushstrokes storytelling helps to neutralize Tarsem’s more ponderous instincts, which were on excruciatingly ample display in his prior efforts The Cell and The Fall. The filmmaker’s work is infinitely more exhilarating when he’s relieved of the need to be in any way serious. He should play dumb more often. Keith Uhlich Weekly box office: Dhs3,603,907 Weekly admissions: 81,023 Total box office: Dhs3,603,907 Total admissions: 81,023