10 The Apparition Director: Todd Lincoln Stars: Ashley Greene, Sebastian Stan, Tom Felton, Julianna Guill, Luke Pasqualino, Rick Gomez, Anna Clark, Marti Matulis
You’d think a spectre from another dimension would have better things to do than dislocate furniture and open garage doors without a remote, but here we are – again – as a vapid couple are taunted by a demon who enjoys making the soap insta-moldy after the heroine disrobes for a shower. At least the Paranormal Activity films enliven this conceit with formal rigour. While an eerie, 1973-set prologue hints at a story, The Apparition turns out to be nothing more than a series of feebly constructed boo scenes tacked together to achieve (barely) feature length. Ben Kenigsberg
Weekly box office: Dhs85,686 Weekly admissions: 2,376 Total box office: Dhs758,903 Total admissions: 20,604
9 Dredd Director: Pete Travis Stars: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey, Jason Cope, Rakie Ayola, Warrick Grier
John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra’s popular dystopian comic-book character finally gets the movie adaptation he deserves with this unapologetically violent 3D action feature. A crisp prelude introduces the stunning post-apocalyptic setting, a crime-ridden American megalopolis several states long, and our perpetually helmeted antihero (Urban). Dredd is one of numerous ‘judges’ with the power to capture, sentence and execute those who break the law.
The shoot ’em-up plot is pure simplicity, but there’s genuine artistry behind the film’s video-game goals. The impressively lean script by Alex Garland (28 Days Later) is shorn of almost all superfluity beyond a few dud Schwarzenegger-esque kiss-offs, while Anthony Dod Mantle’s sensational widescreen cinematography harks back to the tension-inducing inventiveness of early John Carpenter. The added dimension is put to terrific use, whether in sinewy close-up or 100-storey-drop long shot. We’re a long way from Sly Stallone and Rob Schneider here. Keith Uhlich
Weekly box office: Dhs131,711 Weekly admissions: 3,125 Total box office: Dhs1,122,394 Total admissions: 25,273
8 Helm Aziz Director: Amr Arafa Stars: Menna Shalaby, Mohamed Emam, Ahmed Ezz, Sherif Mounir, Mai Kassab
Egyptian fantasy is one of the first attempts at fantasia in Arabic cinema.
Weekly box office: Dhs113,565 Weekly admissions: 3,196 Total box office: Dhs113,565 Total admissions: 3,196
7 Savages Director: Oliver Stone Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Gary Stretch, Benicio Del Toro, Diego Cataño, Shea Whigham, Karishma Ahluwalia, Joaquín Cosio
Pretend, if you like, that the creative mode you wish Oliver Stone would return to after all these years is the one he occupied for the headache-inducing Natural Born Killers (1994), an instantly dated anomaly. If you can persuade yourself of this bad idea, then the scuzz-violent, pop-opera-drenched Savages is for you.
Narrated in Blake Lively’s slurriest, most wayward-babe growl, the movie feels cool in a strained way. Three tanned Laguna Beach dealers of illegal herbs are our heroes. Soon enough, here come the scary Mexicans, sending our trio spooky emails, snatching up their beloved blonde and generally calling for tough tactics. Stone and his actors make this pulp watchable enough, but he’s a lot more fun when grafting his histrionic nerve onto weightier subjects: presidents, wars, James Woods’s ego. This time, Stone is just sloshing around in the shallow end. Joshua Rothkopf
Weekly box office: Dhs189,832 Weekly admissions: 4,167 Total box office: Dhs832,483 Total admissions: 22,068
6 The Words Director: Brian Klugman, Lee Sternthal Stars: Bradley Cooper, Dennis Quaid, Olivia Wilde, John Hannah, Jeremy Irons, Zoe Saldana, Michael McKean
At a swanky book event, a literary hotshot (Quaid) reads aloud from his latest page-turner. Suddenly we’re inside the novel, watching years fly by in the life of a struggling writer (Cooper). This fictional character stumbles upon a manuscript; in a fit of envy and desperation, he slaps his own name on this anonymous masterpiece, kick-starting a successful career as an author.
The connections among the film’s various plot strands are painfully obvious; by the time a grizzled Jeremy Irons saunters in, ready to dole out a comeuppance, perceptive viewers will have mentally flipped to the last page. AA Dowd
Weekly box office: Dhs249,234 Weekly admissions: 7,109 Total box office: Dhs249,234 Total admissions: 7,109
5 Battle of 2 Empires Director: Faruk Aksoy Stars: Devrim Evin, Ibrahim Celikkol and Dilek Serbest
Turkey’s top-grossing film is released here in an English-dubbed version and the original (subtitled) Arabic. Despite being the most expensive film ever filmed in its own country, it still looks cheap by Hollywood standards, but we were impressed by the movie’s scope and ambition.
Released at home simply as Fetih 1453, and internationally as Conquest 1453, this epic has a runtime of 160 minutes, with plenty of drawn-out battle showdowns to get your teeth into. Some of the scenes play out as soap-like, and perhaps some of the dialogue is lost in translation. But there’s plenty for an international crowd to learn from this project, which stands as a significant filmmaking achievement for Turkey. TO
Weekly box office: Dhs262,102 Weekly admissions: 7,256 Total box office: Dhs880,085 Total admissions: 24,179
4 The Hidden Face Director: Andrés Baiz Stars: Martina García, Quim Gutiérrez, Clara Lago, Alexandra Stewart
Filmed in both Spain and Colombia, there’s two distinct plotlines to this engrossing psychological thriller, about a woman who falls in love with a Spanish orchestra conductor who’s suspected of foul play concerning the mysterious disappearance of his former love. TO
Weekly box office: Dhs262,340 Weekly admissions: 7,479 Total box office: Dhs262,340 Total admissions: 7,479
3 The Watch Director: Akiva Schaffer Stars: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade, Rosemarie DeWitt, Will Forte, Mel Rodriguez, Doug Jones
American superstore Costco gets an iffy amount of brand exposure in this marginally amusing alien-invasion comedy. It’s an apt enough association for a film packaged as pure product, aiming to snare the combined markets for loudmouth comics, sci-fi action and, er, Richard Ayoade – who, however seemingly misplaced, is the freshest thing here.
When a colleague is gruesomely murdered by a slime-trailing killer, Stiller forms a neighbourhood watch force, though fellow members Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Ayoade are more interested in bromance than keeping the peace. As is the film: the intrusion of a somewhat mangy-looking Third Kind doesn’t distract the script from its strict agenda of lame jokes and casual xenophobia. The laughs are as cheap and cheerful as the effects, but the film’s dim boisterousness is troubling. Guy Lodge
Weekly box office: Dhs346,021 Weekly admissions: 8,617 Total box office: Dhs1,532,139 Total admissions: 37,175
2 Frankenweenie Director: Tim Burton Stars: Winona Ryder, Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Atticus Shaffer
Tim Burton’s status as an outsider and iconoclast has curdled of late. The man who once thrilled us with the surreal adventures of Pee-wee Herman, moved us with the lovelorn longing of Edward Scissorhands and had the bipartisan gall to incinerate America’s Congress in Mars Attacks! is now a fatigued company man. Once Tinseltown’s defiant black sheep, he’s become a full-on Hollywood stooge; witness this year’s moribund Dark Shadows remake.
It makes sense that Burton would return to one of his earliest works, the flawed yet promising black-and-white 1984 short Frankenweenie, to try and revivify the spirits. This 3D stop-motion-animated redo tells the story of introverted suburban kid Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan), who harnesses some inclement weather to bring his dead dog, Sparky, back to life.
Burton’s visual imagination runs wild. Delightful throwaway gags are plentiful. What still eludes Burton is the ability to deepen the superficial allure of his visions. Keith Uhlich
Weekly box office: Dhs537,673 Weekly admissions: 11,196 Total box office: Dhs537,673 Total admissions: 11,196
1 Taken 2 Director: Olivier Megaton Stars: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace, Leland Orser, Jon Gries, D.B. Sweeney, Luke Grimes, Rade Serbedzija
This makes the Death Wish sequels look like The Godfather Part 2. It is one of the laziest, most incompetent mainstream films ever released.
Where the first Taken began with a believably nightmarish scenario – ex-CIA operative Bryan Mills (Neeson) was forced to act when his daughter, Kim (Grace), was snatched – the sequel doesn’t bother with fripperies like plot or intrigue. The relatives of the interchangeable, jabbering baddies that Bryan bumped off in the first film now want revenge. They follow him to Istanbul. They try to kill him. They fail. The end.
While much of the blame must fall on scriptwriters Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, the real culprit is director Olivier Megaton; the punch-up in a Turkish bath is marginally less interesting than watching someone else play Street Fighter.
Taken 2 is a cynical film whose sole reason for existing appears to be to squeeze the pockets of anyone who enjoyed the first movie. Don’t give it the satisfaction. Tom Huddleston
Weekly box office: Dhs4,714,562 Weekly admissions: 119,653 Total box office: Dhs4,714,562 Total admissions: 119,653