Which 3D blockbuster is holding down top spot at the cinema?
Time Out Dubai staff
Carnage Director: Roman Polanski Stars: Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, John C. Reilly, Elvis Polanski, Eliot Berger
This comic miniature sees Roman Polanski bring his knack for claustrophobic dramas played out in enclosed spaces (a recurring interest from Knife in the Water to The Ghost, via Repulsion and The Tenant) to French writer Yasmina Reza’s play The God of Carnage, moving from Paris to middle-class Brooklyn.
It’s a captive, caustic exercise in confinement and hysteria as a couple, Nancy (Kate Winslet), a personality-free, high-flying financial type, and Alan (Christoph Waltz), a harried executive, come knocking at the home of Penelope (Jodie Foster), a self-consciously liberal writer, and Michael (John C Reilly), an amiable peddler of ‘flush mechanisms’, to discuss a fight between their kids. Each couple attempts diplomacy, but words become weapons, prejudices rise to the surface and the evening collapses into a storm of anger, vomit, drunkenness and violence. It’s an acting face-off, yet Polanski harnesses any thespian one-upmanship to make it integral to each character’s need to dominate a deteriorating scenario. Brief, brutal and barmy. Dave Calhoun
Weekly box office: Dhs174,321 Weekly admissions: 4,972 Total box office: Dhs174,321 Total admissions: 4,972
Burning Bright Director: Carlos Brooks Stars: Briana Evigan, Charlie Tahan, Garret Dillahunt, Mary Rachel Dudley, Tom Nowicki
Why does so much forgettable, low- budget, straight-to-DVD trash find itself enjoying a proper cinematic release in the UAE? A grassroots thriller about a young woman stuck inside her home with just an autistic younger brother and a ravenous tiger for company, Burning Bright is an able vehicle for 86 minutes of glass-shattering shrieks and skimpy sweat-drenched clothing. So far it’s only been seen by bargain-bin buyers in north America, following a DVD release in 2010, but now cost-conscious cinema programmers in the UAE are giving this dirge a regrettable big-screen debut. Rob Garratt
Weekly box office: Dhs197,680 Weekly admissions: 5,709 Total box office: Dhs197,680 Total admissions: 5,709
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Director: John Madden Stars: Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Dev Patel, Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup
The cast constitutes a dream team of veteran thesps, convened to re-enact Deborah Moggach’s novel These Foolish Things. The film doesn’t quite sink to the dewy-eyed clichés of Orientalism derided in the book (‘oh the poverty, oh the sunsets!’) but it still presents a superficial take on contemporary India: beaming kids play cricket, wise old men proffer advice. Tin-eared dialogue is pretty typical, and the plot strands trundle along to their predictable termini.
With so many characters to juggle, several end up getting short shrift, and the lessons learned are banal in nature and schematic in execution. They might have just got away with it as a TV Sunday night mini-series but from a cinematic perspective, this trip shouldn’t have been embarked upon. Ben Walters
Weekly box office: Dhs262,416 Weekly admissions: 6,112 Total box office: Dhs262,416 Total admissions: 6,112
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: Dhs328,998 Weekly admissions: 7,745 Total box office: Dhs7,718,174 Total admissions: 168,997
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: Dhs368,431 Weekly admissions: 10,267 Total box office: Dhs2,269,219 Total admissions: 62,752
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: Dhs592,044 Weekly admissions: 14,240 Total box office: Dhs3,718,375 Total admissions: 84,808
The Son of No One Director: Dito Montiel Stars: Channing Tatum, Al Pacino, Juliette Binoche, James Ransone, Ray Liotta, Katie Holmes, Ursula Parker, Brian Gilbert, Tracy Morgan
Jonathan White (Tatum, who’s put on some Method pudge) is a dour member of New York’s Finest with some not-so-nice secrets. Flashbacks to his tenement-residing childhood reveal a murderous event that still haunts him. It involves a loaded gun, a strung-out drug addict and a sexually abused best bud who grows up into a shell-shocked Tracy Morgan. Now it’s 2002, the city is reeling from 9/11, and White’s past is threatening to catch up with him thanks to some anonymous letters sent to Juliette Binoche’s intrepid Queens reporter. What’s a conflicted copper to do?
Even the presence of heavy hitters such as Al Pacino can’t bolster Dito Montiel’s lurid and bathetic policier. The camera always seems to be in the wrong place, and the editing is frenetic and counterintuitive. By the time The Son of No One reaches its wannabe-tragic finale, you’d like nothing more than to kick this fatherless child to the curb. Keith Uhlich
Weekly box office: Dhs776,737 Weekly admissions: 21,521 Total box office: Dhs776,737 Total admissions: 21,521
A Thousand Words Director: Brian Robbins Stars: Eddie Murphy, Cliff Curtis, Kerry Washington, Emanuel Ragsdale, Jill Basey, Greg Collins, Robert LeQuang, Michael G. Wilkinson, Lyndsey Nelson
Ageing funnyman Eddie Murphy plays a motormouthed literary agent who gets a crash course in holding his tongue after a mystical Bodhi tree sprouts in his backyard. Every word he speaks (or writes) costs him a leaf; if all the leaves fall, he croaks. The high concept breeds lowbrow gags – our hero ingests herbicides (don’t ask) and conducts conference calls using talking toys – but before this star vehicle devolves into a soggy New Age sermon, Murphy’s manic pantomiming offers a few faint flickers of the mad comic genius from 1987’s Raw. His best shot at reviving those glory days would be to drop hack director Brian Robbins (Norbit) like a superfluous sentence. A Thousand Words? We have one – meh. AA Dowd
Weekly box office: Dhs964,892 Weekly admissions: 27,191 Total box office: Dhs3,195,008 Total admissions: 87,666
The Hunger Games Director: Gary Ross Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley, Willow Shields, Elizabeth Banks
The perils of allowing a successful author to adapt their own work for the screen are demonstrated once again in this absorbing but cluttered take on Suzanne Collins’s post-apocalyptic teen epic. This is a gripping, impressively mounted action movie – but its adherence to finicky details means there’s not enough time to fully explore Collins’s complex world.
Jennifer Lawrence excels as Katniss, a teen girl forced to take part in the televised Hunger Games, in which children from each of 12 districts fight to the death in tribute to the ruling Capitol. The central concept may be derivative, but as in the book, there are enough original ideas to make it feel fresh and involving.
But The Hunger Games is an oddly muted film. Director Gary Ross’s decision to avoid any sense of uplift or triumphalism may be appropriate for a story about children killing one another, but it leaves the film feeling a little one-note in its bleakness, which may harm its chances at the multiplex. This is a solid take on the material, but it could have done with a little less narrative incident and a little more cinematic sparkle. Tom Huddleston
Weekly box office: Dhs1,484,961 Weekly admissions: 40,260 Total box office: Dhs4,530,574 Total admissions: 118,801
Wrath of the Titans Director: Jonathan Liebesman Stars: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Rosamund Pike, Ralph Fiennes, Édgar Ramírez, Toby Kebbell, Rosamund Pike, Bill Nighy, Danny Huston, John Bell
Louis Leterrier’s 2010 Clash of the Titans remake was a pinnacle in will-this-do multiplex joylessness. This time, in a turn of events more surprising than the script, the results are rather good. The prospect of further additions to this franchise no longer sounds like divine punishment. Guy Lodge Weekly box office: Dhs4,172,082 Weekly admissions: 88,182 Total box office: Dhs4,172,082 Total admissions: 88,182