UAE top-earner got our worst review of the week! Do you agree?
Time Out Dubai staff
This week’s top movie at the UAE box office might come as a bit of a surprise, unless you went to see it. Or, perhaps, even more so ...
Of the six movies released at the start of the current week (J. Edgar, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Chalet Girl, The Darkest Hour, Bunraku, and The Way.), one might very well expect a top placing for one of the first three movies. But one might very well be wrong...
Our critic certainly didn’t think this week’s top film was the best of the bunch. Check out reviews of the UAE’s top 10 films at the box office by clicking here.
10 Chalet Girl Directed by: Phil Traill Starring: Felicity Jones, Ed Westwick, Bill Nighy, Brooke Shields, Tamsin Egerton, Bill Bailey, Sophia Bush
This loud, silly and surprisingly fun British comedy would be tough to bear without Felicity Jones or Bill Nighy and their easy-going charm and shoulder-shrugging approach to the wonky material in their hands. Jones gamely plays against type as Kim, a teen server in a fast-food joint who lives with her unemployed father (Bill Bailey) and takes a job as a hostess – or chalet girl – at an upscale Austrian skiing resort to pay the bills. Cheesy and proud of it, Chalet Girl has no pretensions beyond inspiring laughs and gathering empathy for an endearing central character. It pulls it off by balancing wild characters with a down-to-earth approach to Kim, driven by Jones’s grounded and likeable performance. Dave Calhoun
Weekly box office: Dhs158,191 Weekly admissions: 4,850 Total box office: Dhs158,191 Total admissions: 4,850
9 Elephant White Directed by: Prachya Pinkaew Starring: Djimon Hounsou, Kevin Bacon and Jirantanin Pitakporntrakul
The flick is about a hitman who racks up the body count before triggering a gang war, all set against the backdrop of bustling Bangkok. Hitman Curtie Church (Djimon Hounsou) is hired by a businessman to complete a number of hits and avenge his daughter – but who cares? It will inevitably be the vehicle for lots of high-adrenaline, drop-kicking fun. Rob Garratt
Weekly box office: Dhs177,754 Weekly admissions: 5,465 Total box office: Dhs939,081 Total admissions: 27,460
8 Bunraku Directed by: Guy Moshe Starring: Josh Hartnett, Demi Moore, Woody Harrelson, Gackt, Ron Perlman, Kevin McKidd, Emily Kaiho
A smouldering cowboy (Hartnett) and a seething samurai team up to take down a kingpin (Perlman) and his colourful contract killers in this fever-pitched pastiche of fanboy fantasy tropes. Director Guy Moshe has visual flair to spare, providing a fusillade of camera whips and pans, cartoons and copious kung fu. Yet all this sound and fury service a story so nonsensically convoluted that voiceover exposition (courtesy of Faith No More’s Mike Patton) only compounds the confusion. Hartnett is less a nouveau Charles Bronson than a poor man’s Josh Brolin, while Woody Harrelson acts as though he’s doing community service as a sage-like bartender. Bunraku aspires to be Kill Bill: Vol 3; it’s more like an ornate pitch for a Dick Tracy reboot. Eric Hynes
Weekly box office: Dhs276,179 Weekly admissions: 8,847 Total box office: Dhs276,179 Total admissions: 8,847
7 Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Directed by: Tomas Alfredson Starring: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Kathy Burke, Stephen Graham, Toby Jones, Ciarán Hinds, David Dencik, Simon McBurney, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy
British spy novelist John le Carré once called his most frequent protagonist – buttoned-down intelligence officer George Smiley – the anti-James Bond. Appearing in half a dozen of the author’s books, Smiley is everything 007 is not: private, methodical, so unassuming he makes no lasting impression on anyone he encounters. In this adaptation of Le Carré’s Cold War classic, Smiley (played by a great Gary Oldman) is yanked out of retirement to expose a Soviet mole who’s infiltrated the upper echelon of the agency. Having captured the tacky decor of the early ’80s in Let the Right One In, director Tomas Alfredson here replicates the bureaucratic banality of his ’70s-London milieu. As densely plotted as it should be, Tinker, Tailor forgoes explosive action in favour of shadowy intrigue and the menace of the mundane. It’s the anti-James Bond spy picture. AA Dowd
Weekly box office: Dhs330,611 Weekly admissions: 9,250 Total box office: Dhs330,611 Total admissions: 9,250
6 Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked Directed by: Mike Mitchell Starring: Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, Jesse McCartney, Amy Poehler, Anna Faris, Christina Applegate, Alan Tudyk
As the punning title suggests, the all-singing, all-dancing Chipmunks (Alvin, Theodore, Simon and the Chipettes) wind up on a desert island after a prank involving a kite aboard their holiday cruise ship goes awry. But they get more than they bargained for when they discover the island is also home to an obstreperous resident. With its slick combination of live action and CGI, a raft of contemporary tunes, some natty dance moves and those cute (read annoying) squeaky voices, chances are Shrek Forever After director Mike Mitchell’s effort will prove a big kiddie hit this Christmas. TO
Weekly box office: Dhs320,906 Weekly admissions: 9,739 Total box office: Dhs4,358,514 Total admissions: 133,426
5 J. Edgar Directed by: Clint Eastwood Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Naomi Watts, Josh Lucas, Armie Hammer
From Unforgiven (1992) onward, Clint Eastwood’s directorial efforts have often questioned the righteousness of a lone-wolf authority figure. That’s why J Edgar Hoover makes such a promising subject. Over the course of 48 years as bureau chief, the founding FBI director amassed unprecedented power and secrets so sensational he could allegedly blackmail presidents. Shot in bland pseudo-monochrome, the film grips whenever it zeroes in on Hoover’s paranoia. But while romance gives J. Edgar a sensitive core, the time-hopping script trots out highlights without any historical scope, and the quality of DiCaprio’s performance seems to vary depending on the time period. Ben Kenigsberg
Weekly box office: Dhs464,210 Weekly admissions: 12,177 Total box office: Dhs464,210 Total admissions: 12,177
4 X Large Directed by: Sherif Arafa Starring: Nahed El Sibai, Amy Samir Ghanem, Donia Samir Ghanem, Ibrahim Nasr, Ahmed Helmi
The story about overweight Magdy who is desperate for someone to love him for who he is on the inside. After meeting the beautiful Dina, Magdy pretends to be his cousin Adel to win her heart.
Weekly box office: Dhs580,780 Weekly admissions: 17,087 Total box office: Dhs3,248,458 Total admissions: 95,062
3 Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Directed by: Guy Ritchie Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Rachel McAdams
When Guy Ritchie’s witty, enjoyable reboot of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic detective stories busted blocks back in 2009, a follow-up was unavoidable. Cynics would argue that a visit from that scourge of movie sequels, the law of diminishing returns, was equally inevitable. Here we find Holmes (Robert Downey Jr) already hot on the trail of his latest nemesis, ‘Napoleon of crime’, James Moriarty (Jared Harris). When the mad professor schemes to have Holmes’s on-off squeeze murdered, our hero spirals into depression – until the return of his trusty sidekick Watson (Jude Law) shakes him out of his torpor and sets him back on the warpath, following a trail of destruction that will lead to Paris, Germany and – inevitably – Switzerland’s Reichenbach Falls. The best comparison to draw here is with the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels: the cast and crew remain unchanged, but a key ingredient is lacking. Perhaps it’s a sense of spontaneity: where the first film seemed genuinely sprightly and off-the-cuff, the outcome of every thunderous, whizz-bang, CG-fuelled action scene in the sequel feels – that word again – inevitable. Salvation arrives in the form of Stephen Fry as Holmes’s brother, Mycroft, and while his schoolmasterly demeanour and encyclopaedic intellect isn’t exactly a stretch for Britain’s favourite quizmaster, it’s a welcome distraction from the increasingly stale banter of the two leads. The result is a fitfully amusing but largely unsurprising and uninvolving action-movie-by-numbers: elementary, and not in a good way. Tom Huddleston
Weekly box office: Dhs1,044,086 Weekly admissions: 27,859 Total box office: Dhs7,438,625 Total admissions: 198,868
2 Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol Directed by: Brad Bird Starring: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Paula Patton
In its towering scope and ambition, it resembles Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, from which star Tom Cruise famously abseiled during filming. But the fourth instalment of the Mission: Impossible franchise gets so tangled in its toddlers’ jigsaw puzzle of a plot that it barely scales the heights of a small skyscraper. The film begins with a parody-like assassination scene in Budapest, before cutting to Ethan Hunt (Cruise) being broken out of a maximum-security Russian prison. ‘Things must be bad out here, to get me out of there,’ he quips. Bad they are; his mission, should he choose to accept it, involves breaking into Moscow’s Kremlin to steal, well, something, before a suspected terrorist gets there first. When it goes awry and the Russian fortress is blown up, Cruise’s IMF team is blamed, forcing them to go awol to complete their (virtually) impossible mission. While the Bond saga is hopelessly trying to impersonate the gritty realism Bourne trilogy, in it’s fanatical stylings M:I is now playing catch-up to Bond, specifically Pierce Brosnan’s Bond – this movie’s ensuing shambles of a storyline about a nuclear satellite (recalling Goldeneye) and a fanatic’s inexplicable desire to cause the next apocalypse (Tomorrow Never Dies). It’s exhilarating to watch an increasingly-weathered Cruise dangling from a heavily-CGI’d Burj, but no one’s really sure why he had to climb out of the window in the first place. How he ended up moments later in the midst of an impenetrable sandstorm in Satwa is little more convincing. Perhaps sensing the self-parody it’s in danger of becoming, the ‘humour’ is ramped up this time around. Brit funnyman Simon Pegg is promoted from a bit part role in the last movie to a grating movie-long script of aching one-liners and cringey comic-book facial expressions. Any franchise that reaches its fourth instalment has lost its ability to fire on all four cylinders, but as a popcorn-munching rollercoaster ride this entertains enough, just. The film’s open ending worryingly points towards a fifth film that just may not. Rob Garratt
Weekly box office: Dhs1,081,062 Weekly admissions: 29,233 Total box office: Dhs21,426,389 Total admissions: 589,220
1 The Darkest Hour Directed by: Chris Gorak Starring: Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Max Minghella
The Darkest Hour begins like a Hostel sequel, with two pairs of Ugly Americans (including Into the Wild’s Emile Hirsch and Juno BFF Olivia Thirlby) meeting at the hottest club in Moscow. Then the lights go out, the sky starts falling, and suddenly we’re watching an extra-cheesy 3D remake of Brad Anderson’s plenty-cheesy-as-it-is Vanishing on 7th Street. Instead of an invisible menace, we get glowing, semi-visible space phantoms that burn you into a cloud of ash. Great care has been taken to transform Moscow into a deserted urban wasteland. That effort might have been better expended on lending the survivors a glimmer of personality – or distinguishing this aftermath-of-the-invasion snoozer from the various sci-fi movies it unfavourably recalls. AA Dowd
Weekly box office: Dhs1,502,820 Weekly admissions: 30,589 Total box office: Dhs1,502,820 Total admissions: 30,589