Which winged rodent is top of the (smaller) charts this week?
Time Out Dubai staff
9 Silent House Director: Chris Kentis, Laura Lau Stars: Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens, Julia Taylor Ross, Haley Murphy
This is an unimaginative ‘re-imagining’ of La Casa Muda, a low-budget Uruguayan horror movie from 2011 that was allegedly shot in one continuous take. The ‘real terror in real time’ gimmick of the original was a sleight of hand, of course, and the same is true here: despite many additional light sources, there are still plenty of dark shadows in which sly edits can be hidden.
In this version, the camera has a distracting obsession with Elizabeth Olsen in compromising positions, but the star of Martha Marcy May Marlene gives a committed, convincing performance as Sarah, a young woman assailed by strange noises and creepy apparitions in her family’s neglected summer house.
Instead of adding the redundant character of Sarah’s childhood friend, Sophia (Julia Taylor Ross), filmmakers Chris Kentis and Laura Lau should have plugged the original’s plot holes and straightened out its logic. There is also a confusing tendency to blur the line between supernatural phenomena and the more tangible, twisted family secrets that are conveniently blanked out by the film’s amnesiac heroine. Time Out Dubai staff
Weekly box office: Dhs735 Weekly admissions: 21 Total box office: Dhs303,406 Total admissions: 7,982
8 The Avengers Director: Joss Whedon Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner
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: Dhs1,435 Weekly admissions: 41 Total box office: Dhs24,572,185 Total admissions: 554,167
7 Ice Age: Continental Drift Director: Steve Martino, Mike Thurmeier Stars: Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Nick Frost, Queen Latifah
Blue Sky Studios’ series of family-friendly cartoons about the adventures of three prehistoric chums – Manny the mammoth, Sid the sloth and Diego the sabre-tooth tiger – gears up for a fourth instalment. Its predecessor, Dawn of the Dinosaurs, is currently the fourth highest-grossing animated film of all time, making this follow-up wholly inevitable. This time, the movie is setting out to sea, as the continents begin to shift and our heroes are set adrift on a floating iceberg, where they encounter pirates, sea monsters and discover a new country. Time Out Dubai staff
Weekly box office: Dhs44,470 Weekly admissions: 1,277 Total box office: Dhs11,949,688 Total admissions: 283,439
6 The Amazing Spider-Man Director: Marc Webb Stars: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Irrfan Khan, Campbell Scott
It’s web 2.0. Five years since Sam Raimi hung up his ‘I Love NY’ cap and Tobey Maguire ditched the Spandex in Spider-Man 3, it’s the turn of director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) and British actor Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) to turn back the Spidey-clock and start again. Memories are short in Hollywood, and generations are measured in dog years.
This version of the Marvel Comics staple is an origin tale (dead dad, classroom bullying, spider-bite) which is low on psychological trauma and high on teen woes. Again we learn how Peter Parker (Garfield) lost his parents and gained a mask. But the evolution into a swinging city vigilante is framed by recognisable adolescent awkwardness and romantic troubles involving his schoolmate and new girlfriend, Gwen Stacy (Stone), daughter of the city’s chief of police (Denis Leary). Garfield is more robust and charming than Maguire, and he forms a pleasing Brit-acting axis with Rhys Ifans, who plays his adversary Dr Curt Connors, later The Lizard.
Webb and the film’s writers have done a smart job of making a snappy blockbuster with few pretensions: The Amazing Spider-Man is light on its feet and feels both intimate and expansive, smoothly making the transition from hanging out in school corridors to hanging off the sides of buildings. Webb offers no radical rethink about how to craft a comic-book movie, but he delivers a enjoyable rush over a patchwork of genres – romance, action, sci-fi, horror and comedy – while avoiding bumps at the joins. The action sequences are gripping and have a bouncy, parkour-style giddiness to them. Garfield gets the best lines and is a comic, often slapstick, presence for much of the movie as he learns how to cope with his new powers.
Spidey is the ultimate New York superhero, and this is full of nods to the city’s movie heritage. There’s a touch of Woody Allen to some of Garfield’s twitchy scenes, while King Kong looms over Spidey’s skyscraper-top encounter with The Lizard. There’s even a scene where Parker mopes down the street with his shoulders hanging low like De Niro in Taxi Driver. This lone gun with a red sock over his head also feels an urge to clean up the streets – but his New York is mostly benign, a place where crane drivers and cops wave him on his way and the skyline sparkles in approval. Soft, yes, but also satisfying. Dave Calhoun
Weekly box office: Dhs48,325 Weekly admissions: 1,388 Total box office: Dhs17,385,420 Total admissions: 379,550
5 Papa (Arabic) Director: Ali Idriss Stars: Ahmed El Sakka, Dorra
Romance directed by Ali Idriss and starring Ahmed El Sakka. Time Out Dubai staff
Weekly box office: Dhs938,470 Weekly admissions: 26,397 Total box office: Dhs938,470 Total admissions: 26,397
4 Brave Director: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman Stars: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson
With past achievements including the Toy Story trilogy, Finding Nemo and Wall-E, Pixar has pushed the envelope for digital animation so many times that there’s a tiny bit of disappointment involved when its latest offering turns out to be merely really good rather than an absolute knockout. It does offer the company’s first female heroine, a tomboy-ish medieval Scots princess, Merida (Macdonald). But its blend of warrior adventure, parental bonding, scary bits and cute hi-jinks leans more to established, slightly predictable Disney formulae than usual.
Yet Brave remains enjoyable. It’s grounded in authentic emotional conflict as free-spirited teenager Merida fails to see why her mum, the Queen (Thompson), insists on getting her married, since she’d rather be off shooting arrows than standing beside some stupid nobleman. With a super voice cast – including Billy Connolly and Kevin McKidd – clearly having a ball, there’s a degree of knockabout in the air, but no sense of shortbread-tin tweeness. No, not another Pixar classic, but for full-on family fun it’s a brave effort. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs3,190,489 Weekly admissions: 71,009 Total box office: Dhs3,190,489 Total admissions: 71,009
3 Step Up 4: Miami Heat Director: Scott Speer Stars: Kathryn McCormick, Ryan Guzman and Cleopatra Coleman
Released as Step Up Revolution elsewhere, this latest instalment of the fleet-footed, dim-witted dance franchise introduces a fresh batch of attractively inexpressive urban toe-tappers, here under threat from Peter Gallagher’s oily property magnate.
Naturally, the way to save their working-class seafront community is to stage a series of elaborate pop-up dance routines in a range of moneyed hangouts before selling out at the first sniff of corporate sponsorship. It’s equal parts Flashdance, Burlesque and Lambada, all parts ludicrous – but abetted by in-your-face 3D, the dancing is astonishing, unexpectedly conceptual choreography. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs3,504,761 Weekly admissions: 76,082 Total box office: Dhs3,504,761 Total admissions: 76,082
2 The Expendables 2 Director: Simon West Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Liam Hemsworth, Randy Couture, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terry Crews
Instead of a pension, the 66-year-old Sylvester Stallone has discovered a better way to reward the action-film icons of yesteryear: give them a franchise! The sequel gets even closer to his steroidal ’80s-movie ideal than the original 2010 commando-genre reboot, as Stallone heads a team of mercenaries that includes shoot-’em-up stars of the past (Dolph Lundgren), present (Jason Statham) and possibly future (Liam Hemsworth). Meanwhile, Jean-Claude Van Damme plays a villainous character named Vilain, a mumbling gang leader out to steal six tons of plutonium. Only the crew known as the Expendables, with a geriatric assist from happy-to-be-there heroes Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and Chuck Norris, can stop him. These vein popping he-men proceed to blast away evildoers with howitzer-level firepower, bad puns and stare-downs – in short, the holy trinity of Reagan-era cheese. Thankfully, The Expendables 2 also inherits the physicality of that bygone decade’s fight scenes, as director Simon West stages battles with clarity and blunt impact. The highlight is a bruising pas de deux between Statham and direct-to-video star Scott Adkins, a sequence that channels yesteryear’s testosteronised cinema instead of exhuming it. You can only hope the inevitable third entry will use that as a model. R. Emmet Sweeney (Time Out New York)
Weekly box office: Dhs4,357,849 Weekly admissions: 116,266 Total box office: Dhs4,357,849 Total admissions: 116,266
1 The Dark Knight Rises Director: Christopher Nolan Stars: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine
It’s been a summer of expectations. There was The Avengers, which ticked all the right boxes and made a truckload of dosh, and Prometheus, which disappointed most but still managed to ring a few tills. Now here comes the biggie: can Christopher Nolan see out his Bat trilogy in style? Can he make that so-far-elusive five-star superhero movie, or at least live up to the eye-popping standard he set with 2008’s The Dark Knight?
The answers are yes, no, and mostly. As its running time suggests (165 minutes!), The Dark Knight Rises is a sprawling, epic feast of a movie, stuffed to the gills with side characters, subplots and diversions. Yet there’s nothing here to match the intensity of Heath Ledger’s Joker, and the movie feels weaker for it.
We’re reintroduced to Bruce Wayne, aka Batman (Bale), living as a recluse, holed up in the east wing of Wayne Manor. But when marauding, mask-wearing psycho Bane (Hardy) muscles in with the intention of kick-starting a popular revolution, Bruce must don the cape and cowl once again. There’s also Anne Hathaway as a slinky, burgling Catwoman and lots of confusing financial shenanigans with the shareholders of Wayne Enterprises.
But when the Bat flies, such considerations go out the window. Nolan creates a grand, dirty, engrossing world, and his action sequences just hum. Predictable perhaps, but as our heroes swoop off into the sunset, we realise we’ve been witness to something truly impressive: a seven-year cinematic adventure that combined the epic and the personal in dizzying, inventive, sometimes perplexing, often enthralling, always imaginative ways. Tom Huddleston
Weekly box office: Dhs7,467,264 Weekly admissions: 183,412 Total box office: Dhs7,467,264 Total admissions: 183,412