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: Dhs129,803 Weekly admissions: 3,696 Total box office: Dhs4,406,528 Total admissions: 113,425
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: Dhs156,853 Weekly admissions: 4,320 Total box office: Dhs617,153 Total admissions: 17,756
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: Dhs176,954 Weekly admissions: 4,744 Total box office: Dhs2,683,816 Total admissions: 67,119
Tucker & Dale vs Evil Director: Eli Craig Stars: Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden, Jesse Moss, Philip Granger, Brandon Jay McLaren, Christie Laing, Chelan Simmons
This is a witty reversal of the slasher movie template. Two upwardly mobile hillbillies (crotchety dreamer Alan Tudyk and cuddly doofus Tyler Labine) buy a holiday cabin only to find it besieged by obnoxious college kids convinced their neighbours are serial killers. Misconception piles upon misunderstanding, and matters aren’t helped by the fact that the judgemental jocks keep accidentally sticking their feet in bear traps and tumbling into woodchippers, much to the bemusement of our heroes. Relying as much on indie amiability as buckets of blood ‘n’ guts (though there is plenty of the latter), Tucker & Dale is as shaggily charming and deceptively smart as its goofy leads. The final act is slightly bogged down when the filmmakers decide to ditch slapstick splatter for try-hard horror movie hysterics, but mostly first-time director Eli Craig keeps things ticking along beautifully. Fans of inventive, good-humoured gore, step right up. Tom Huddleston
Weekly box office: Dhs213,250 Weekly admissions: 6,020 Total box office: Dhs213,250 Total admissions: 6,020
The Secret World of Arrietty Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi Stars: Bridgit Mendler, Amy Poehler, Will Arnett, Mark Strong, Saoirse Ronan, David Henrie, Moises Arias
The Secret World of Arrietty is a simpler and more accessible creation than most of what we’ve seen from Japan’s Studio Ghibli. Based on Mary Norton’s celebrated children’s novel The Borrowers, it’s credited with ‘planning and scripting’ by animator Hayao Miyazaki and has been directed by a longtime collaborator. If it lacks the freedom and surreality one finds in such Miyazaki films as Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle, it goes down more smoothly with a straightforward adventure plot that gives it near-universal appeal. A hit in Japan, the movie gives the slight sense of being a calculated crossover, but this is the sort of poignant charmer Disney has forgotten how to make. Ben Kenigsberg
Weekly box office: Dhs241,743 Weekly admissions: 6,961 Total box office: Dhs241,743 Total admissions: 6,961
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: Dhs579,496 Weekly admissions: 13,129 Total box office: Dhs2,448,166 Total admissions: 55,077
The Devils Double Director: Lee Tamahori Stars: Dominic Cooper, Ludivine Sagnier, Raad Rawi, Philip Quast, Mimoun Oaïssa, Khalid Laith, Dar Salim
Imagine an Iraqi take on The Sopranos, with Saddam Hussein in the Tony role, wringing his hands in despair at the young generation (Why must they torture in public? Isn’t that why we have Abu Ghraib?). This blinged-up, bizarre film is loosely based on an autobiography by Latif Yahia, who for five years was the body-double of Uday Hussein, Saddam’s sadistic first born. Weirdly, it’s in English with non-Iraqis playing the central characters. British actor Dominic Cooper plays both Latif and Uday – acquitting himself pretty well in the circumstances.
Uday’s psychotic streak was too much even for Saddam, who relegated him to number two successor. In 1987 he summoned Latif, an old school friend with an uncanny likeness, and made him an offer: become my body-double or I’ll kill your family. Latif underwent plastic surgery so that not even the Hussein family could tell the two men apart (though, as Uday’s brother notes, you know you’re watching Latif on TV because, ‘He’s sober and not foaming at the mouth.’).
What makes The Devil’s Double unsettling is its tone. In places, Uday is played for laughs, introduced as a mummy’s boy. But elsewhere, Tamahori doesn’t hold back from showing the worst of Uday’s depravity: we see him searching for barely pubescent girls to abduct. The result is a film which is even more tasteless than its main character’s gold ’n’ marble palace. Cath Clarke
Weekly box office: Dhs594,778 Weekly admissions: 16,950 Total box office: Dhs1,475,495 Total admissions: 41,927
A blockbuster take on the Snow White fable with Julia Roberts as the wicked queen. The impression is of an end-of-the-pier pantomime which just happens to have a huge Hollywood star. Time Out Dubai staff
Weekly box office: Dhs1,098,330 Weekly admissions: 29,719 Total box office: Dhs1,098,330 Total admissions: 29,719
Project X Director: Nima Nourizadeh Stars: Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, Jonathan Daniel Brown, Dax Flame, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Brady Hender, Nick Nervies, Alexis Knapp
Listen to a rough sketch of the plot and you’ll hardly raise an eyebrow: A trio of high-school losers – shy, nominal hero Thomas (Mann), motormouthed enabler Costa (Cooper) and chubby hanger-on JB (Brown) – decide to throw a ‘game-changer’ of a house party when the parents go away. How, then, does Project X, as generic as its title sounds, somehow raise the roof, even incinerate it? The movie pushes its reckless rager into an apocalyptic fury, with suburban blocks on fire, property damage in the millions and riot cops fleeing. Amazingly, the story is based on a real 2008 event from Australia.
It’s a style of anarchy that can be thrilling in itself; Project X bears the Blair Witch handheld stamp, shot by its participants, which adds to the YouTubeness of it all. Make no mistake: these kids have zero agenda save awesomeness, popularity and getting with that hot, topless girl. So ascribe a dollop of Occupy Wall Street rage to the film at your own risk. The brainless reality is a lot scarier. Deeply irresponsible, this a film that will give parents seizures – and give teens a big old smile. Joshua Rothkopf
Weekly box office: Dhs1,217,396 Weekly admissions: 30,517 Total box office: Dhs1,217,396 Total admissions: 30,517
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: Dhs1,866,972 Weekly admissions: 41,192 Total box office: Dhs6,247,480 Total admissions: 134,798