Denzel guides aeroplane crash drama safely into top spot
Time Out staff
10 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: Dhs175,567 Weekly admissions: 5,006 Total box office: Dhs9,337,854 Total admissions: 244,283
9 Legends of Valhalla: Thor Director: Óskar Jónasson, Toby Genkel, Gunnar Karlsson Stars: Justin Gregg, Paul Tylak, Nicola Coughlan, Liz Lloyd, Alan Stanford
Kids’ film from Iceland about the eponymous Thor, a young blacksmith who lives happily with his mum in a peaceful village – until legend comes a-knockin’. Thor finds out he is the son of Odin, the King of the Gods. Hearing the news, an army of angry giants come calling on his sleepy town. We’re expecting a pleasant but unremarkable Medieval kids animation. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs271,158 Weekly admissions: 5,884 Total box office: Dhs271,158 Total admissions: 5,884
8 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: Dhs251,115 Weekly admissions: 7,112 Total box office: Dhs1,280,483 Total admissions: 35,119
7 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: Dhs330,070 Weekly admissions: 8,103 Total box office: Dhs1,222,428 Total admissions: 30,638
6 Seven Psychopaths Director: Martin McDonagh Stars: Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Michael Pitt, Michael Stuhlbarg, Abbie Cornish, Christopher Walken
After making a splash with his terrific debut, the comedy-noir In Bruges, playwright-turned-director Martin McDonagh presumably got the call from Hollywood. He would no doubt have been expected to write a funny, irreverently violent, Tarantino-esque film. What he did instead is make a funny, irreverently violent, Tarantino-esque film about the inherent rubbish-ness of writers.
Colin Farrell is Irish writer Marty, who’s too inebriated to knock a script out. When his dog-kidnapping buddy (Rockwell) and his partner-in-crime (Christopher Walken, never better) steal a Shih Tzu from a maniac (Woody Harrelson), the plot that has escaped Marty’s imagination bursts into his life.
McDonagh’s script pokes a satisfyingly self-aware finger in the ribs of writers, with their glock-wielding psychopathic characters and blood-spattered scripts. Seven Psychopaths is a laugh-a-minute, loopy shaggy dog’s tale – and insanely good fun. Cath Clarke
Weekly box office: Dhs311,940 Weekly admissions: 8,579 Total box office: Dhs311,940 Total admissions: 8,579
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: Dhs537,808 Weekly admissions: 13,055 Total box office: Dhs5,320,493 Total admissions: 118,838
4 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: Dhs635,083 Weekly admissions: 14,826 Total box office: Dhs1,643,324 Total admissions: 37,636
3 Sinister Director: Scott Derrickson Stars: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance and James Ransone
This so-so, occasionally effective horror film combines found-footage creepiness and haunted-house scares – but is stronger on mood than story. A believable Ethan Hawke gives it some grounding as Ellison, a struggling true-crime writer who moves into a suburban house notorious for an unsolved mass slaying. He immediately discovers a stock of 8mm movies which offer a distressingly vivid insight into the crime. Things start going bump in the roof space. A loopy final section exposes the flakiness of the film’s ideas. Trevor Johnston
Weekly box office: Dhs721,867 Weekly admissions: 20,491 Total box office: Dhs721,867 Total admissions: 20,491
2 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: Dhs2,114,088 Weekly admissions: 49,124 Total box office: Dhs15,199,197 Total admissions: 366,347
1 Flight Director: Robert Zemeckis Stars: Nadine Velazquez, Denzel Washington, Carter Cabassa, Adam C. Edwards, Tamara Tunie, Brian Geraghty
Few things are worse than being jolted awake by a plane dropping into an uncontrollable nosedive – especially if you’re hotshot airline pilot Whip Whitaker (Washington) and have been sleeping off some illegal indulgence in the cockpit at 33,000 feet. Whitaker pulls a last-minute manoeuvre, turning the jet upside down to slow the descent, managing a crash-landing with minimal casualties. He’s declared a public hero. Yet it soon becomes apparent that, miracle move or not, Whitaker’s relationship with substances goes a little beyond the occasional indulgence.
Filmmaker Robert Zemeckis has always had a knack for staging white-knuckle set pieces involving free-falling aircrafts, and the disaster that launches this drama is a doozy. However Flight is not really about flying; this is a story of the self-destructive lengths people will go to in order to save their soul.
Despite Washington going the full nine yards ugly-wise, there’s little to distinguish this from other entries in the ‘cinema of addiction’ genre. Flight doesn’t quite soar past its narrative limitations. There’s plenty of virtuosity to go around here, just precious little transcendence. David Fear
Weekly box office: Dhs2,026,868 Weekly admissions: 49,893 Total box office: Dhs2,026,868 Total admissions: 49,893