Which huge worldwide flop is on top at UAE cinemas?
Time Out Dubai staff
Gone Director: Heitor Dhalia Stars: Amanda Seyfried, Jennifer Carpenter, Wes Bentley, Daniel Sunjata, Sebastian Stan, Nick Searcy
Paranoid abduction survivor Jill (Amanda Seyfried) never fully recovered from her kidnapping at the hands of an unseen attacker. So when her sister disappears one morning, the cops are hesitant to believe Jill’s story, namely that her kidnapper has returned, intent on revenge. Jill’s sister is not the only thing missing from Gone: tension, thrills, scares and a remotely satisfying ending are also MIA. Matt Singer Weekly box office: Dhs108,148 Weekly admissions: 3,130 Total box office: Dhs590,273 Total admissions: 17,259
We Bought a Zoo Director: Cameron Crowe Stars: Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Colin Ford, Maggie Elizabeth Jones, Angus Macfadyen, Elle Fanning
A comedy with youthful wonderment on its side, the latest film from perpetual teen Cameron Crowe heals a broken family in the quasi-spiritual gaze of the natural world. Widowed father Matt Damon takes his two children out of noisy Los Angeles and plunks down his savings on 18 acres of sun-dappled green, also the home of a rundown zoo with tigers, birds and a highly symbolic bear. Before you frown in disbelief, know that a version of this story actually happened in the English countryside.
Too much of the movie feels predestined, and subplots involving budding romance end up forcing what’s implicit. Crowe, meanwhile, still can’t stop abusing his vinyl collection; the aural wallpapering of Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens and others will surely please post-boomer fans who haven’t quite got the hang of silence. Joshua Rothkopf
Weekly box office: Dhs113,566 Weekly admissions: 3,284 Total box office: Dhs573,858 Total admissions: 16,052
Safe House Director: Daniel Espinosa Stars: Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Robert Patrick, Vera Farmiga, Sam Shepard, Brendan Gleeson
Daniel Espinosa’s slick, hacky thriller alternates between hyperactive skulduggery and moody men-on-a-mission existentialism. A going-through-the-motions Washington acts the conveniently prescient Zen master to Reynolds’s colourlessly strapping tenderfoot. Keith Uhlich
Weekly box office: Dhs208,011 Weekly admissions: 4,971 Total box office: Dhs4,276,725 Total admissions: 109,729
Like Crazy Director: Drake Doremus Stars: Felicity Jones, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence, Charlie Bewley, Alex Kingston, Oliver Muirhead, Finola Hughes, Chris Messina
This transatlantic indie-romance charmed the socks off Sundance last year, sparking an all-night studio bidding war and catapulting its British star, Felicity Jones, to the dizzy heights of Carey, Keira et al. It’s not hard to see why. Like a sweeter Blue Valentine, it gets under the skin of a relationship: will it or won’t it last? Here, it’s intoxicating first love; two college students locked in a lengthy long-distance relationship.
The acting is mostly improvised – often a licence for pretension. Not here. Jones in particular pulls off the tricky feat of showing Anna ageing from year to year – from slouchy student in vintage dresses to glossy-haired junior magazine editor. In places, it teeters like a house of cards, all that flimsy, dizzily youthful feeling threatening to collapse in on itself. But it doesn’t, and 28-year-old director Drake Doremus gently braves some bittersweet truths. Is it true love? Or is the reality less like the movies: a fantasy of being in love that the couple can’t let go of? Cath Clarke
Weekly box office: Dhs216,663 Weekly admissions: 6,335 Total box office: Dhs216,663 Total admissions: 6,335
This Means War Director: McG Stars: Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, Til Schweiger, Chelsea Handler, John Paul Ruttan, Abigail Spencer, Angela Bassett
Charmless and histrionic, this mean-spirited movie takes place in the toyscape of mono-monikered director McG, aka Joseph McGinty Nichol. Our heroes are FDR (that’s what he goes by, played by Star Trek’s Pine) and Tuck (Hardy), two extra-close CIA agents who love their job. After foiling a rooftop heist, they stride with equal swagger into a competition to win over a woman they’ve both dated.
But wait: isn’t that woman Reese Witherspoon? As Lauren, a workaholic, Witherspoon fades into the part of an insecure product tester, afraid of rejection. You never believe it. Then come the paintball mishaps and surveillance-cam stalking – or is it wooing? Every plot point is telegraphed, yet given the usual conventions of these triangulations, it’s still possible to wince at the awful ending, a focus-group-tested option that actually has Lauren picking the lamer of two jerks. Joshua Rothkopf Weekly box office: Dhs340,249 Weekly admissions: 8,067 Total box office: Dhs2,506,862 Total admissions: 62,375
Midnight in Paris Director: Woody Allen Stars: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, Kurt Fuller, Mimi Kennedy, Michael Sheen, Nina Arianda
Woody Allen’s got his groove back. Judging by last year’s acidic black comedy You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger and this affectionate valentine to the City of Light, the movie-a-year-whether-you-want-it-or-not auteur has hit a vibrant creative stride – Midnight in Paris just picked up the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay (although in typical Allen style, he failed to show and pick it up).
Things seem just right from Paris’s melancholy prelude, a sublimely photographed, edited and scored succession of images of the fantastical French capital. From there we meet Hollywood screenwriter and budding novelist Gil (Wilson), who’s come to the city with his fiancée, Inez (McAdams), for a fateful visit. Gil is utterly beguiled by Paris’s hidden wonders and its palpable sense of history. As he’s quick to admit, he’s a nostalgist who feels like he was born in the wrong time (Gil, il est toi, Monsieur Allen?). So imagine his delight when the clock tolls midnight one evening, an old Peugeot rolls up, and he’s transported from Paris 2010 to Paris 1920. Soon he’s rubbing elbows with Ernest Hemingway and falling for fashion designer Adriana (Cotillard).
From this clever, potentially one-note setup, Allen creates a continually amusing fantasia that is also wise about the damaging ways people reject the present to embrace a golden-hued past that never existed. This is prime Woody Allen – insightful, philosophical and very funny. Keith Ulrich
Weekly box office: Dhs320,908 Weekly admissions: 8,580 Total box office: Dhs320,908 Total admissions: 8,580
Act of Valor Director: Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh Stars: Alex Veadov, Roselyn Sanchez, Nestor Serrano, Alexander Asefa
Real-life Navy SEALs (with nothing better to do?) play the uncredited characters of this generic action movie, while real-life patriots play the whooping audience. Unfortunately, the role of the reviewer will be played by an actual film critic – one who appreciates the work these soldiers do, but who can also point out laughably bad dialogue and a ridiculously limited view of American righteousness. Like all ads, this scripted movie is a perfect fantasy. Joshua Rothkopf
Weekly box office: Dhs333,345 Weekly admissions: 9,897 Total box office: Dhs1,585,691 Total admissions: 45,245
5 Days Of War Director: Renny Harlin Stars: Rupert Friend, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Richard Coyle, Heather Graham, Johnathon Schaech, Rade Serbedzija, Andy Garcia, Val Kilmer, Antje Traue, Dean Cain
Renny Harlin used to make ridiculous movies involving pirates or Sylvester Stallone; now he makes ridiculous movies about Putin’s 2008 invasion of the country of Georgia. Some might call this broadening. The hard fact, though, is that Harlin’s instincts – always toward the massive and slo-mo – make him a fairly dunderheaded political analyst. An American war correspondent (Friend) and his thrill-seeking cameraman (Coyle) enter the battlefield, bear witness to a Russian-led air siege, comfort many a crying civilian and team up with a cute local teacher (Chriqui). Oh, justice, where are you?
Shot on location with tons of military hardware from the (heroically portrayed) Georgian government, it’s the rare film about current events that leaves you knowing less. Cameos from ex-Rollergirl Heather Graham and a chunky Val Kilmer, unable to screw down into seriousness, threaten the already-fragile believability quotient. Had the film stuck to the dangerous lives of these committed journos it would have had material enough; Harlin, while clearly honouring their work, turns them into low-wattage action heroes. Joshua Rothkopf
Weekly box office: Dhs474,877 Weekly admissions: 13,853 Total box office: Dhs474,877 Total admissions: 13,853
Dr. Seuss The Lorax Director: Chris Renaud, Kyle Balda Stars: Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Danny DeVito, Betty White, Rob Riggle, Jenny Slate, Nasim Pedrad
Dr Seuss’s environmental fable gets a suitably whimsical-looking treatment in this animation from Despicable Me director Chris Renaud. Zac Efron voices Ted, a boy living in a fantastical world who goes in search of a tree. In the book, these colourful trees are used to make garments and are thus felled, causing a food shortage and environmental lessons all round. Ed Helms voices the story-telling Once-ler, while Danny DeVito is The Lorax, a pint-sized harbinger of environmental doom. It’s all done in a fairly cheerful fashion, mind you, judging by the perky trailer. Time Out Dubai staff
Weekly box office: Dhs784,883 Weekly admissions: 17,518 Total box office: Dhs1,879,284 Total admissions: 42,110
John Carter Director: Andrew Stanton Stars: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Willem Dafoe, Samantha Morton, Thomas Haden Church, Mark Strong, Ciarán Hinds, Dominic West, James Purefoy
This sprawling 3D adaptation of A Princess of Mars has all the makings of a monumental folly. It was absurdly expensive (rumours suggest upwards of Dhs900 million), stars no one you’ve ever heard of (the voice cast notwithstanding), is based on a property very few outside the geek community are familiar with, has a wildly convoluted storyline packed with silly names and outlandish locations, and is saddled with one of the least exciting titles in recent memory.
Now, maybe there are legions of multiplex-goers to whom the words ‘Sab Than, Prince of Zodanga’ sound like a sure-fire bet – but it’s unlikely. And this is merely the tip of a hefty iceberg: chuck in some four-armed Tharks, some eight-legged Thoats and Mark Strong as an evil spirit and you’ve got an unholy mess. Luckily, thanks to some stunning visual design, a sense of wry humour and Wall-E director Andrew Stanton’s knack with an action setpiece, it’s a very entertaining, unusual and loveable mess. John Carter could be Dune for the 21st century – or it could be the next Avatar. Only time will tell. Tom Huddleston
Weekly box office: Dhs4,380,508 Weekly admissions: 93,606 Total box office: Dhs4,380,508 Total admissions: 93,606