See which movies had you handing over your hard-earned cash
Time Out Dubai staff
10 Safe Director: Boaz Yakin Stars: Jason Statham, Catherine Chan, Chris Sarandon, Robert John Burke, James Hong, Anson Mount, Chris Sarandon
Former Guy Richie protégé and general go-to hardman Statham continues his seemingly never-ending arc of identikit thrillers. Playing a former special agent, he re-enters the international theatre of espionage in order to rescue an abducted Chinese girl, no doubt outsmarting the corrupt forces bearing down upon him along the way. Rob Garratt
Weekly box office: Dhs64,385 Weekly admissions: 1,826 Total box office: Dhs4,729,229 Total admissions: 120,627
9 The Cabin in the Woods Director: Drew Goddard Stars: Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Connolly, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams
Every few years, a horror movie comes along that promises to revitalise the genre, sometimes for the better (Night of the Living Dead, Ringu), sometimes not (Saw, Hostel). From the pen of Buffy creator Joss Whedon and Cloverfield scribe Drew Goddard, The Cabin in the Woods doesn’t so much set out to reinvigorate horror as pick it apart, analyse it, laugh at it, and then blow it to smithereens just for kicks. It’s the funniest horror film since Evil Dead 2, and one of the most entertaining movies of the year.
It begins as Hadley (Jenkins) and Sitterson (Whitford) discuss baby-proofing in an office building. Cut to a gang of nubile youngsters, heading off to a remote cabin for fun and frolics. How might the two stories connect? And what’s going on in the cabin?
It’s remarkable to see a mainstream movie touch on so many fascinating, powerful ideas without losing sight of its prime directive: to scare the socks off its audience. Tom Huddleston
Weekly box office: Dhs91,360 Weekly admissions: 2,598 Total box office: Dhs1,513,403 Total admissions: 42,940
8 After.Life Director: Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo Stars: Christina Ricci, Liam Neeson, Justin Long, Chandler Canterbury, Celia Weston, Luz Alexandra Ramos, Josh Charles
Liam Neeson is Eliot Deacon, a soft-spoken mortician with the ability to talk to the recently deceased. It’s never entirely confirmed if his skills are genuine or the elaborate cover of a serial killer. Neeson clearly relishes the role, but he never plays to the cheap seats by going whole-hog psychotic; the character’s motivations remain opaque from first frame to last.
Ricci is game in her parallel role, baring body and soul as a disturbed teacher. But two subplots act as damaging narrative deadweight. This is one case where there’s more life in the morgue than out.
Weekly box office: Dhs102,700 Weekly admissions: 2,928 Total box office: Dhs102,700 Total admissions: 2,928
7 The Five-Year Engagement Director: Nicholas Stoller Stars: Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt, Alison Brie, Lauren Weedman, Mimi Kennedy, David Paymer, Jacki Weaver, Jim Piddock
All engaged couples go through rough patches on their journey toward walking down the aisle; for Tom (Segel) and Violet (Blunt), the road gets especially rocky. No sooner have the two lovebirds announced their nuptials than a career opportunity for the would-be bride forces a relocation from the Bay Area to Minnesota. Wedding plans are put on indefinite hold; as the years go on, resentments build up, emotional funk gives way to awful facial hair, and arguments become increasingly nasty.
Nicholas Stoller’s relationship-roller-coaster comedy has hints that something stronger and slightly edgier might lie beneath its smooth surface. But whereas Stoller and Segel did wonders with the formula in 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall, a certain overfamiliarity creeps in long before the going gets rough. Combine that with outright laziness about using the filmmaking to complement the funny – would it kill people to construct a scene that doesn’t cut away after a punchline? – and the fact that relying on Segel and Blunt’s ample charms alone simply isn’t enough to carry an unnecessarily long, winding storyline, and the sense of deflation soon becomes overwhelming. There are two love affairs that are in danger of falling to pieces here, and only one of them is on the screen. David Fear
Weekly box office: Dhs107,744 Weekly admissions: 2,940 Total box office: Dhs1,283,885 Total admissions: 35,083
6 The Courier Director: Hany Abu-Assad Stars: Mickey Rourke, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Til Schweiger, Lili Taylor, Miguel Ferrer, Mark Margolis, Josie Ho, David Jensen, Tom Proctor
Mickey Rourke has been enjoying something of a renaissance ever since his Oscar-nominated performance in 2008’s The Wrestler, which makes our hopes higher than they might be for this otherwise generic-sounding action thriller. Middle Eastern director Hany Abu-Assad has a history for directing arty fare (Do Not Forget Me Instanbul, Paradise Now), so hopefully he’s capable of injecting some flair into a potentially yawn-inducing plot about a courier who is asked to deliver a package to the world’s hottest hitman. Rob Garratt
Weekly box office: Dhs211,636 Weekly admissions: 5,792 Total box office: Dhs211,636 Total admissions: 5,792
5 Dark Shadows Director: Tim Burton Stars: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green, Helena Bonham Carter, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller, Bella Heathcote
Of all the oddballs Johnny Depp has played for Tim Burton, few have been as one-note amusing as Barnabas Collins, the resurrected vampire aristocrat of Dark Shadows. Don’t be fooled by his ghostly pallor or Nosferatu fingernails: Barnabas is a gentleman, even when it comes to the undignified business of sinking his teeth into a stranger’s jugular. Buried for two centuries, he awakes to a brave new ’70s world of bell-bottoms and sideburns, mistaking the neon glow of a McDonald’s for a satanic oracle.
The bloodsucker as a befuddled tourist is an old joke. So thank Mephistopheles for Depp, whose deadpan delivery punches up easy gags about Lava lamps and Scooby-Doo. Even Eva Green throws herself into the role of bombshell villainess with gusto: Depp may have the fangs, but she’s the one with bite.
For all its fish-out-of-water dopiness, Dark Shadows comes closer to the unhinged, black-comic spirit of early Burton than anything the director has made in years. A.A. Dowd
Weekly box office: Dhs604,697 Weekly admissions: 15,831 Total box office: Dhs2,673,898 Total admissions: 70,675
4 What to Expect When Youre Expecting Director: Kirk Jones Stars: Cameron Diaz, Matthew Morrison, J. Todd Smith, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Chace Crawford, Brooklyn Decker, Ben Falcone, Anna Kendrick, Matthew Morrison
This mostly laugh-free pregnancy comedy, adapted from Heidi Murkoff’s pop-parenting best-seller, is at least a slight step up from director Kirk Jones’s last effort, the awful Robert De Niro vehicle Everybody’s Fine (2009). Diaz plays one of five foxy ladies who find themselves with a child on the way. Their significant others react to the news with everything from glassy-eyed shock to ‘it’s all good’ shrugs; most of what hilarity there is comes from the gents’ befuddlement with impending fatherhood. The rest of this piffle, which follows each of the couples from conception to delivery, milks the worst kind of newborn-fawning sentiment. Keith Ulrich
Weekly box office: Dhs1,053,340 Weekly admissions: 27,716 Total box office: Dhs1,053,340 Total admissions: 190,290
3 The Avengers Director: Joss Whedon Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner
It’s official: spring 2012 will forever be known as Joss Whedon season. Not content with co-writing and producing the best film of the year so far, the berserk horror romp The Cabin in the Woods , he’s now scripted and directed the season’s biggest. And if The Avengers doesn’t feel quite as Whedon-esque as Cabin, it retains enough of his ff-kilter wit and attention to character to set it high above your average multiplex crowd-pleaser.
For those unfamiliar with the Marvel canon, the Avengers comics unite superheroes from across the company’s roster who are together tasked with taking on Loki, who plans to flood the world with evil skeleton monsters from outer space. It’s not rare to see a blockbuster skimp on plot, but that tendency is taken to new extremes here: the story is just a bare frame on which Whedon hangs his characters and action sequences. But that – and a few dodgy CGI effects – is the only major fault. This is as close as cinema gets to a fairground ride: it’s shiny, noisy and exhilarating. Whedon directs with a sledgehammer, bashing the audience, with action piled upon action.
The Avengers may not be the Joss Whedon movie everyone remembers in 2012, but it does offer this hugely talented writer-director the opportunity (and the budget) to show what he’s capable of. Tom Huddleston
Weekly box office: 1,237,096 Weekly admissions: 30,258 Total box office: Dhs21,803,476 Total admissions: 485,748
2 El-Maslaha (ARABIC) Director: Sandra Nashaat Stars: Ahmed el-Sakka, Ahmed Ezz and Zeina
Egyptian action movie tells the story of a hard-nosed police officer who goes after a dangerous-drug dealer. Stars Ahmed El Sakka, Ahmad Ezz, Hanan Turk, Kinda Alouch, Zeina, Salah Abdallah and Ahmad Al Saadani, written by Wael Abdallah and directed by Sandra Nash’at.
Weekly box office: Dhs1,131,861 Weekly admissions: 31,652 Total box office: Dhs1,131,861 Total admissions: 31,652
1 Men in Black III Director: Barry Sonnenfeld Stars: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, Emma Thompson, Michael Stuhlbarg, Mike Colter, Nicole Scherzinger, Michael Chernus
t’s a truism that sometimes you enjoy okay-ish movies more than you expected, particularly if you were expecting them to be rubbish. Here’s a case in point. Fifteen years since the jaunty original, a decade since its diabolical cash-in sequel: ‘Men in Black 3’ – is anyone really bothered?
So, it’s more of the same smartly designed, slightly whimsical secret-agent alien-blasting nonsense, this time in 3D. What does bring a smile to the face, however, is Will Smith back on screen after a four-year break, not trying so hard to be serious or different, and seemingly happy to gambol his way through some entertaining fluff. As for his black-suited cohort, Tommy Lee Jones is now of pensionable age and looks like he’s here on highly paid sufferance. So the movie comes up with a time-travel plot whereby Smith flits back to 1969 to save his cranky partner from a fate worse than death at the hands of visiting extraterrestrial psycho Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement). Oh, and save the world while he’s at it.
Josh Brolin may be nobody’s idea of a movie star, but he gives a witty, likeable and thought-through performance as the younger, pre-grumpy Tommy Lee, as we take a roundabout route to exploring the Smith & Jones chemistry that made the first movie more than just an effects extravaganza. Needless to say, there are plenty of wibbly-wobbly aliens, and they’re fine, though you can also sense Sonnenfeld really working the 3D with lots of playful perspectives evidently conceived for the format. Not much for Emma Thompson to do as the agency boss, but otherwise this freshens up the formula to amiable effect. I’m still not convinced anyone really needs it, but this is a respectable effort in the circumstances. Time Out Dubai staff
Weekly box office: Dhs5,684,181 Weekly admissions: 122,335 Total box office: Dhs5,684,181 Total admissions: 122,335