See which blockbusters have the cinema tills ringing
Time Out Dubai staff
10 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: Dhs143,402 Weekly admissions: 3,966 Total box office: Dhs3,080,957 Total admissions: 81,711
9 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
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: Dhs221,169 Weekly admissions: 5,317 Total box office: Dhs1,781,982 Total admissions: 45,593
8 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: Dhs335,804 Weekly admissions: 9,495 Total box office: Dhs2,127,272 Total admissions: 59,760
7 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: Dhs391,037 Weekly admissions: 10,789 Total box office: Dhs1,517,894 Total admissions: 40,135
6 A Few Best Men Director: Stephan Elliott Stars: Laura Brent, Xavier Samuel, Kris Marshall, Kevin Bishop, Tim Draxl, Solveig Walking, David Sullivan, Elizabeth Debicki
Described as the male version of Bridesmaids, A Few Best Men follows a stag night that ends in disaster and a wedding where nothing goes right. London-born David meets Australian Mia on an island holiday and the two plan to get hitched after just ten days. When he breaks the news to his friends back home, the controlling Tom, subservient Graham and borderline-suicidal Luke depart as his bridal party to Australia, keen to make it a wedding they will never forget. It’s unusual to find an Australian film that merges British and Aussie humour so well. It may not challenge Australian comedy smash The Castle, but it’s bound to make your eyes water. Kate Enright
Weekly box office: Dhs450,265 Weekly admissions: 11,636 Total box office: Dhs450,265 Total admissions: 11,636
5 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: Dhs503,639 Weekly admissions: 12,383 Total box office: Dhs23,164,230 Total admissions: 518,554
4 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
It’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: Dhs1,172,842 Weekly admissions: 27,510 Total box office: Dhs8,819,775 Total admissions: 196,236
3 Lockout Director: James Mather, Stephen St. Leger Stars: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Peter Stormare, Vincent Regan, Joseph Gilgun, Lennie James, Jacky Ido, Tim Plester
The IMDB entry for Lockout credits Luc Besson as producer, co-screenwriter and ‘original idea’ – but rarely have those words been so wrongly applied. It’s the futuristic tale of a muscular, tough-talking convict who is offered parole if he busts the US president’s attractive, politically savvy daughter out of a maximum-security prison overrun by psychopaths and those guilty of crimes against acting. Sound familiar?
But if Lockout isn’t a patch on the countless other ’80s and ’90s action movies it references, there’s still fun to be had with this messy, trashy, frequently idiotic throwback. Yet first-time feature directors James Mather and Stephen St Leger have a lot to learn. Pacing and tone are all over the place, while tension is repeatedly squandered in favour of another sweaty punch-up.
The resulting movie is sporadically enjoyable and, more often than not, infuriating. But for fans of sci-fi schlock, there are plenty of memorable moments to justify the ticket price. Tom Huddleston
Weekly box office: Dhs1,182,854 Weekly admissions: 34,585 Total box office: Dhs1,182,854 Total admissions: 34,585
2 Prometheus Director: Ridley Scott Stars: Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, Sean Harris, Rafe Spall
After all the hype, the leaked scripts, the rumours – is it an Alien prequel? Ridley says no, everyone else says yes. Yet Prometheus turns out to be… well, just another monsters-in-space movie. That’s not the whole story, of course – as sci-fi horror movies go, this is a pretty epic example. But it’s far from the game-changer some had hoped for.
It’s the year 2089, archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) stumble across a pictogram hidden in a cave. Matching it with etchings found across the globe, they conclude that the drawings constitute a star map. And when a dying multi-billionaire (Pearce) agrees to fund a mission, they head out into the cosmos aboard the starship Prometheus to find answers to the questions of life, the universe and everything. What they find is, of course, far slimier and less friendly.
There’s plenty to recommend in Prometheus: the photography is pleasingly crisp and the design is stunning. But its flaws are impossible to ignore. The script feels flat – a few pleasing nods to the original movies aside, the dialogue is lazy, while the plot, though crammed with striking concepts, simply fails to coalesce.
Perhaps more than any other film, Prometheus is reminiscent of Chris Nolan’s Inception: it’s slick, gorgeously designed and scattered with intriguing concepts. But there’s no real power behind it. It will make for a perfectly entertaining night at the movies – but we were promised so much more. Tom Huddleston
Weekly box office: Dhs2,300,753 Weekly admissions: 45,399 Total box office: Dhs2,300,753 Total admissions: 45,399
1 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: Dhs1,740,863 Weekly admissions: 47,537 Total box office: Dhs5,500,315 Total admissions: 144,133