10 Chasing Mavericks Director: Michael Apted, Curtis Hanson Stars: Jonny Weston, Gerard Butler, Elisabeth Shue, Abigail Spencer, Leven Rambin, Devin Crittenden, Taylor Handley, Cooper Timberline
You see the major movie this surfing drama could have been, cresting on the horizon like a 20-foot wall. It’s a tale about a death wish, as two based-on-real-life Santa Cruz natives, both of them dealt lousy hands, strain for self-negation in the mashing crucible of nature. Teenage Jay Moriarity (Weston) shucks off parental abandonment to wander down by the churning coast. Adult surfer Rick ‘Frosty’ Hesson (Butler) is one of those boy-men who never got the hang of fatherhood. Jay and Frosty come together, ease a mutual ache and, just when a lesser movie would heal them, complete some kind of preordained path; the unfairness of it all. Chasing Mavericks is, unfortunately, that lesser movie, a disappointment given the past boldness of co-directors Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential) and Michael Apted (documentary series Up). The film wants to be inspiring, when it might have been cosmic – a far greater ambition. Tossing boats and dreamers, the huge waves perform beautifully. Joshua Rothkopf
Weekly box office: Dhs108,551 Weekly admissions: 3,115 Total box office: Dhs108,551 Total admissions: 3,115
9 Sweeney Director: Nick Love Stars: Damian Lewis, Hayley Atwell, Ray Winstone, Alan Ford, Allen Leech, Steven Mackintosh, Kara Tointon
Nick Love, British cinema’s leading chronicler of hardnut Londoners (The Football Factory, Outlaw), gives the 1970s TV series The Sweeney a clip round the ear and orders it to pull its socks up. Ray Winstone assumes the John Thaw role as Jack Regan, a Flying Squad dinosaur squaring up to bureaucracy, while Ben Drew (aka musician Plan B) steps into Dennis Waterman’s shoes as Carter, his younger, more compromising sidekick. Reality goes out the window as Love drowns out logic in favour of bluff, noise and testosterone. Regan is hauled out of service when his methods switch from being merely neolithic to positively paleolithic. But this ageing bruiser refuses to sit back, convinced as he is that he’s on the trail of a man behind a series of brutal robberies and a murder. It’s Winstone who keeps The Sweeney on the right side of duff. The actor is at his feral best, and plays gamely with an unlikely role as a gruff lothario in scenes with Atwell. Plan B doesn’t really have the acting chops for this, but Winstone’s more effective co-star is the film’s honest, unembarrassed embrace of Hollywood-style action on the unlikely streets of London. Dave Calhoun
Weekly box office: Dhs117,927 Weekly admissions: 3,180 Total box office: Dhs117,927 Total admissions: 3,180
8 House at the End of the Street Director: Mark Tonderai Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Elisabeth Shue, Max Thieriot, Gil Bellows, Nolan Gerard Funk, Eva Link, Allie MacDonald, Jordan Hayes
Something horrible from the past has come back to haunt Jennifer Lawrence – and it’s called House at the End of the Street. Shot two years ago, before the actress scored the lead in The Hunger Games, this utterly incompetent psychological thriller finds Lawrence’s new-girl-in-town cosying up to the handsome, sad-eyed college boy (Thieriot) next door. This horror film marks time until dropping its big, dumb reveal. How big and dumb, you ask? We refer you to co-screenwriter David Loucka’s last movie, Dream House – an equally moronic and twist-laden dose of residential evil. AA Dowd
Weekly box office: Dhs196,568 Weekly admissions: 5,624 Total box office: Dhs1,418,035 Total admissions: 40,199
7 Battlefield America Director: Chris Stokes Stars: Marques Houston, Mekia Cox and Christopher Jones
Washed up R&B singer-turned-actor Marques Houston wrote and starred in this dross-looking tear-jerker, about a young businessman who’s handed community service, forcing him to mentor a group of misfit kids. Of course, he learns to learn from them, leading the sorry band into an underground dance competition. Directed by Houston’s buddy Chris Stokes, and starring no one else in particular, expect lots of shameless post-Glee musical numbers. TO Weekly box office: Dhs233,211 Weekly admissions: 6,643 Total box office: Dhs233,211 Total admissions: 6,643
6 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: Dhs323,353 Weekly admissions: 7,767 Total box office: Dhs9,162,287 Total admissions: 239,277
5 Hotel Transylvania Director: Genndy Tartakovsky Stars: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon
No one does saccharine like Adam Sandler. The man can be sharp, angry and funny – but when he lays on the sweetness, it’s like drowning in an avalanche of syrup. Even in animated form, as the voice of the world’s most famous bloodsucker, Sandler achieves sickening levels of ickiness and so sinks this otherwise pleasurable cartoon romp. He’s Count Dracula, owner of a hotel for ghouls, and on the eve of his daughter’s 118th birthday, he starts to fear that she’ll leave him for the big, bad world.
There’s plenty to like: the animation is crisp and the action well designed. But the script – co-written, astonishingly, by former The Day Today scribe Peter Baynham – is a mass of lazy father-daughter clichés, and it climaxes with the most stomach-churning song-and-dance sequence this side of High School Musical. Tom Huddleston
Weekly box office: Dhs880,837 Weekly admissions: 20,560 Total box office: Dhs4,782,686 Total admissions: 105,783
4 Here Comes the Boom Director: Frank Coraci Stars: Kevin James, Salma Hayek, Henry Winkler, Greg Germann, Joe Rogan, Gary Valentine, Charice
A high school’s music programme is on the budget chopping block, though not if crusading biology teacher Kevin James, stripped down to his trunks, can help it. Knuckleheaded though this faculty-member-turned-MMA-fighter comedy is, there’s no denying the plot’s lefty credentials, snuck in among the popcorn. Repeatedly, we’re told of the value of the arts by kind-hearted conductor Henry Winkler. The passion of heroic educators is a theme, with the American flag making multiple cameos. And even though James gets to do his vaguely unsettling dance moves (and fall down a lot), he’s surrounded by true believers, including a foreign-born ring trainer (giddy former UFC champ Rutten) who aspires to citizenship. The movie thrums with social responsibility in between the barefoot canvas smackdowns – how current is that? Joshua Rothkopf
Weekly box office: Dhs892,308 Weekly admissions: 22,535 Total box office: Dhs892,308 Total admissions: 22,535
3 Wreck-It-Ralph Director: Rich Moore Stars: John C. Reilly, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Sarah Silverman, Adam Carolla, Jamie Elman
Set in a universe of video games that sound real but aren’t, ‘sugar rush’ is an apt description for Disney’s latest, which has great highs but ultimately feels as undernourishing and frantic as an afternoon lost to Mega Man. Best to savour the visual gags: Especially in scenes depicting Felix (Jack McBrayer) and his family, the Pixar-less team has great fun mimicking a Nintendo-ish, herky-jerky animation style. Not retro enough? Wreck-It Ralph is preceded by Paperman, a romantic black and white short that seems aimed at parents nostalgic for The Apartment. Ben Kenigsberg
Weekly box office: Dhs1,008,241 Weekly admissions: 22,810 Total box office: Dhs1,008,241 Total admissions: 22,810
2 Alex Cross Director: Rob Cohen Stars: Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox, Rachel Nichols, Giancarlo Esposito, Jean Reno, Edward Burns, John C. McGinley, Carmen Ejogo, Chad Lindberg
Box-office grosses suggest a boundless appetite for Madea movies, but were audiences clamouring to see Tyler Perry as a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Charles Bronson? The eponymous profiler and hero of James Patterson’s novels is described as a guy who can tell what you ate for breakfast from 100 yards away. This sensory genius meets his match in a ‘stimulus-seeking, sociopathic narcissist’ killer (an emaciated, lizard-like Matthew Fox) who’s targeting corporate bigwigs. After Cross takes a stab at psychoanalysing him during one of their sporadic cell-phone chats, things gets personal. The soft-spoken star has rarely been less convincing than when locking and loading from his home arsenal or dangling from a decaying Detroit edifice. Ben Kenigsberg
Weekly box office: Dhs1,029,369 Weekly admissions: 28,007 Total box office: Dhs 1,029,369 Total admissions: 28,007
1 Skyfall Director: Sam Mendes Stars: Daniel Craig, Helen McCrory, Javier Bardem, Bérénice Marlohe, Ben Whishaw, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris
‘Were you expecting an exploding pen? We don’t really go in for that any more.’ That’s Ben Whishaw’s Q to Daniel Craig’s James Bond in Skyfall, a Bond movie that struts forward while looking back over its shoulder to the past. That’s what the 007 films are all about – an evolving mix of tradition and progress – and here we have director Sam Mendes bringing to the franchise a stately look, sombre mood and ample room to breathe.
The Bond films are savvy magpies, smartly pinching the shiniest, newest jewels of movie-making for themselves. Quantum of Solace (2008) came a cropper by putting its hand too obviously in the till of the Bourne films.
But Skyfall much more subtly takes its cues not only from the current, moodier breed of superhero movies, but also from the world around us. There are nods to terrorism, data theft, hacking and even attention-grabbing government inquiries – but nothing is specific or exact enough to mean anything significant. This is a Bond movie: atmosphere is all. The appearance of contemporary relevance is enough.
The story sees Bond in an emotional crisis after a failed mission to Istanbul leaves the names of secret agents in the hands of an unknown villain. Trips to Shanghai and Macau follow as 007 pulls himself together and tries to find the culprit. Meanwhile, a delicious foe emerges in Silva (Bardem), a camp, creepy and smooth character who dares to challenge Bond’s masculinity.
Skyfall is a highly distinctive Bond movie. It has some stunning visual touches, and it mostly manages to convince us of Bond’s emotional life beyond this story: rooting his crisis in his relationship (or lack of) withhis parents. Mendes knows there’s a risk of coming over po-faced by omitting the traditional pleasures of a Bond movie, and its only in the second half of the film, which takes place entirely in the UK, that you get the feeling the director has played the compulsory 007 cards that any Bond director has to. Dave Calhoun
Weekly box office: Dhs3,920,677 Weekly admissions: 93,326 Total box office: Dhs13,156,107 Total admissions: 319,181