Which big blockbuster had you handing over your cash?
Time Out Dubai staff
10 Dr. Seuss The Lorax Director: Chris Renaud, Kyle Balda Stars: Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Danny DeVito, Betty White, Rob Riggle, Jenny Slate, Nasim Pedrad
Watching movies is never going to compete with a hike in the great outdoors, but how thrilling would it be to see a new generation turned on to Ted Geisel's 1971 eco-tragedy---as close as the author got to apocalyptic? For its Blade Runner--like smogscapes alone, this retelling of the nightmare (well-anchored by Ed Helms's "Once-ler," a likably ambitious young man with a guitar) comes close to recommendable. Down go the Truffula trees, out pops Danny DeVito's woodland spirit, and suddenly you're watching a cautionary tale that no number of ancillary Lorax toys is going to dispel. (Geisel himself was aware of the irony of his popular book requiring forests to publish.)
Unfortunately, a new problem rears its head: It seems no young audience member can be trusted to enjoy a thoughtful story without a heroic, borderline-obnoxious surrogate (here, he's voiced by Zac Efron) zooming around on a scooter, bonking villainous heads and saving the day. Blame the trend on Home Alone, but few modern-day directors are impervious to it, not even Martin Scorsese and the non-Mlis parts of Hugo. The point of The Lorax isn't to see that preserved Truffula seed planted and Taylor Swift's lust object smooched. It's to inspire audiences to act out of fear. And we haven't earned this happy ending. Time Out Dubai staff
Weekly box office: Dhs41,062 Weekly admissions: 1,312 Total box office: Dhs4,610,187 Total admissions: 110,243
9 The Pirates! Band of Misfits Director: Peter Lord, Jeff Newitt Stars: Hugh Grant, Salma Hayek, Jeremy Piven
Following the mildly disappointing Wallace and Gromit movie, rat-com Flushed Away and the sweet but slight Arthur Christmas, a case could have been made that Aardman Animation was losing its mojo. Well, said spark is back in this deliriously entertaining tale of a pirate crew and their efforts to become scientific boffins.
Hugh Grant voices The Pirate Captain, whose attempts to become Pirate of the Year are thwarted because, well, he’s not very good. But when kidnapped naturalist Charles Darwin points out that the Captain’s parrot is in fact the last living dodo, the merry crew set sail for London to present their find to the Royal Society.
Movies such as the Shrek series have largely devalued the idea of a film aimed at both kids and parents, but The Pirates! gets the balance spot on. Kids will be enthralled by the slapstick and yo-ho-ho-ing, while the olds will get a kick out of the intricate visual detail, sparkling wit and wild historical inaccuracies: find us another movie in which Jane Austen chucks a mug at the Elephant Man. Glorious. Tom Huddleston
Weekly box office: Dhs85,931 Weekly admissions: 2,249 Total box office: Dhs1,967,283 Total admissions: 43,662
8 Loosies Director: Michael Corrente Stars: Peter Facinelli, Jaimie Alexander, Michael Madsen, Vincent Gallo, William Forsythe, Marianne Leone, Christy Romano, Joe Pantoliano
There are said to be a million stories in New York City; why Twilight actor-turned-screenwriter Peter Facinelli felt compelled to tell one about a pickpocket and his pregnant lover (Alexander) over his other 999,999 choices is anyone’s guess. What isn’t debatable is that Loosies takes all the wrong turns. Director Michael Corrente has delivered decent petty-criminal movies before – see 1994’s Federal Hill – but every aspect here smacks of faux-street toughness at its worst. When Vincent Gallo’s crazy-sleazy-cool act is the sole element of realism, there’s a problem. David Fear
Weekly box office: Dhs110,989 Weekly admissions: 3,143 Total box office: Dhs110,989 Total admissions: 3,143
7 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: Dhs264,195 Weekly admissions: 7,084 Total box office: Dhs2,937,918 Total admissions: 77,754
6 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: Dhs507,474 Weekly admissions: 12,560 Total box office: Dhs1,560,813 Total admissions: 40,276
5 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: Dhs659,608 Weekly admissions: 18,613 Total box office: Dhs1,791,469 Total admissions: 50,265
4 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: Dhs858,421 Weekly admissions: 20,448 Total box office: Dhs22,661,897 Total admissions: 506,196
3 21 Jump Street Director: Phil Lord, Chris Miller Stars: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Brie Larson, Dave Franco, Rob Riggle, DeRay Davis, Dax Flame, Chris Parnell
The ’80s TV show that made Johnny Depp famous may not be an obvious choice for a big-screen follow-up, but casting Channing Tatum opposite Jonah Hill is a no-brainer. Tatum is Jenko, a jock-turned-cop who reluctantly teams up with his high-school contemporary, brainy misfit Schmidt (Hill). Together, they might just last it out in the LAPD – that’s if they can stop bungling arrests.
One such blunder lands them at 21 Jump Street, the resurrected ’80s programme that places puppy-faced cops undercover in high school. Posing as brothers, Jenko and Schmidt return to the halls. But it turns out times have changed. To Jenko’s horror, it’s now cool to be eco-friendly and wear your backpack with both straps. Added to that, the high-school pecking order puts Schmidt in with the popular kids and jock Jenko with the nerds.
It’s a shame that 21 Jump Street falls down both on plot and action – the car chases are a real bore. Save a cameo from a certain A-lister, the third act is vastly inferior. But thanks to charming leads and a smattering of laughs, this is still worth a punt for fans of buddy comedies. Anna Smith
Weekly box office: Dhs1,126,857 Weekly admissions: 29,346 Total box office: Dhs1,126,857 Total admissions: 29,346
2 Snow White and the Huntsman Director: Rupert Sanders Stars: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Sam Claflin, Sam Spruell, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost
The casting of this Snow White story – about the fair maiden and the man ordered to kill her – was the subject of fierce rumours: the role of the huntsman was linked to Viggo Mortensen and Hugh Jackman before Thor’s Chris Hemsworth accepted.Time Out Dubai staff
Weekly box office: Dhs3,759,452 Weekly admissions: 96,596 Total box office: Dhs 3,759,452 Total admissions: 96,596
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: Dhs5,701,481 Weekly admissions: 122,347 Total box office: Dhs5,701,481 Total admissions: 122,347