Which tale of an incredible journey is most popular movie?
Time Out Dubai staff
10 Rise of the Guardians Director: Peter Ramsey Stars: Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher, Jude Law, Dakota Goyo
If you think you know all there is to know about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Sandman and the Tooth Fairy, think again. According to this mostly disposable 3D animated feature, those grand heroes of our childhood don’t only deliver toys, hide eggs, conjure sweet dreams and collect baby teeth. They also wield scimitars, throw boomerangs and command a miniature fairy army. But when bogeyman Pitch threatens the peace, North, Bunnymund, mute Sandy, and Tooth must train reluctant recruit Jack Frost to fight alongside them.
The high-concept silliness wears out its welcome fairly quickly. As revisionist holiday fables go, you’re better off watching Aardman’s delightful Arthur Christmas than this lump of coal. Keith Uhlich
Weekly box office: Dhs230,229 Weekly admissions: 6,165 Total box office: Dhs2,992,256 Total admissions: 68,923
9 Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away Director: Andrew Adamson Stars: Erica Linz, Igor Zaripov and Lutz Halbhubner
Routines from seven of the French-Canadian troupe’s popular circus-arts spectacles are stitched together into a kind of greatest hits compilation in this 3D outing. What plot there is involves a studly aerialist and his waifish admirer wandering through a hallucinatory realm where they see contortionists, sad clowns, a water ballet and lots of high-flying acrobatics. The visuals and soundtrack are as ostentatiously lush as you’d expect from work tailor-made for Vegas. But the thrill is watching bodies hurtling through the air in real time. Zac Thompson
Weekly box office: Dhs405,255 Weekly admissions: 8,629 Total box office: Dhs405,255 Total admissions: 8,629
8 Abdo Mota Director: Ismael Farouk Stars: Mohamed Ramadan, Horreyya Farghaly, Dina
Suspense thriller about a bully working in the drug trade after losing his parents in mysterious circumstance.
Weekly box office: Dhs319,114 Weekly admissions: 9,118 Total box office: Dhs319,114 Total admissions: 9,118
7 Playing for Keeps Director: Gabriele Muccino Stars: Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel and Dennis Quaid
In what kind of suburban paradise do the soccer moms look like Catherine Zeta-Jones, Uma Thurman and Jessica Biel? The same kind, evidently, where the local peewee league is coached by a former star footballer (Butler), a hunky Scot who’s retreated to picket-fence Virginia to win back the wife (Biel) and adorable moppet son (Noah Lomax) he ditched years earlier.
Playing for Keeps, a cloying sitcom fable from Seven Pounds director Gabriele Muccino, hands this sensitive stud everything: a sleek sports car, a bevy of middle-aged groupies, and – once he’s had his fun – the forgiveness of his messed-around family. Husbands and fathers: do not try this at home. Such ‘lovable’ misbehaviour is best left to the professional cads. A.A. Dowd
Weekly box office: Dhs548,240 Weekly admissions: 13,815 Total box office: Dhs548,240 Total admissions: 13,815
6 Truth or Dare Director: Robert Heath Stars: Liam Boyle, Elana Di Troya and Jack Gordon
A year on from a student party that saw awkward Felix humiliated by a group of rich kids whom he considered friends, his tormentors are summoned to a party at a woodland retreat. But where’s the birthday boy? And who’s this charismatic ex-military with a revolver stuffed in his jeans?
There’s a purpose to making the main characters in this British revenge fantasy so unlikeable – it allows them to score a few solid hits against entitled youth. But it also means we’re happy to see these little brats get it in the neck. The result is intermittently entertaining but largely unengaging. Tom Huddleston
Weekly box office: Dhs621,495 Weekly admissions: 17,143 Total box office: Dhs621,495 Total admissions: 17,143
5 The Impossible Director: Juan Antonio Bayona Stars: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor and Tom Holland
On Boxing Day in 2004 a tsunami hit Thailand. Among those swept away were the Alvarez Belons, a Spanish family of five replaced here by the English-speaking Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor. A box-office phenomenon in Spain, The Impossible is littered with contrivances and coincidences which undermine its credibility. Nigel Floyd
Weekly box office: Dhs776,766 Weekly admissions: 20,960 Total box office: Dhs1,910,175 Total admissions: 53,304
They’re advertising this drama about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden with the boast: ‘from the producer of The Hurt Locker’. But if you want a serious and seriously entertaining film on the subject, wait till the New Year for Zero Dark Thirty, which is from the director of The Hurt Locker.
Code Name: Geronimo switches like a jittery episode of CSI between CIA analysts in Virginia, the Navy Seal team executing the kill-or-capture mission and Pakistani intel sources on the ground. For a more gripping account of the manhunt, try Wikipedia. Cath Clarke
Weekly box office: Dhs760,174 Weekly admissions: 21,182 Total box office: Dhs760,174 Total admissions: 21,182
3 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Director: Peter Jackson Stars: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen and Richard Armitage
Size isn’t everything, but cinema doesn’t come much bigger in scale than when Peter Jackson is telling tales. It’s a decade since the New Zealand filmmaker unveiled the last of his Lord of the Rings films and went on to tackle the ultimate in movie giants, King Kong. Now he’s back in the head of JRR Tolkien and applying the latest in technology to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (in 3D and an untried, super-speedy frame rate of 48 frames per second – 24 is usual).
It’s the first of three films to be fashioned from the professor’s novel of faux-medieval fantasies chronicling how a magic ring (‘the precious’) came to be in the possession of a mere hairy-footed Hobbit in the first place. The movie may be grand, but lots of its folk are tiny, which makes for unusual juxtapositions, both odd and amusing. Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman, squished) is a Hobbit living the pipe-and-slippers dream in the Shire.
One evening, the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen, towering over the artificially shortened Freeman) and 13 itinerant, hungry dwarves – many of them with a knack for annoying the audience – come knocking. They persuade Bilbo to join them on a quest to win back their lost kingdom from a dragon. So begins a journey across wild terrain and back-to-back run-ins with larger, more vicious creatures
Many have wondered exactly how Jackson and his co-writers have found three movies in the relatively slim pickings of Tolkien’s early novel (compared to the later novels of the Rings trilogy). The answer is that he opts for the detail and pacing of an extended TV series – an approach that has its drawbacks over more than two-and-a-half hours. The initial coming-together of Bilbo and the dwarves feels overlong, and the start of their journey is sluggish and lacks a vital sense of forward momentum.
It’s during the film’s final third that, at last, we feel a true sense of peril and the dwarves’ journey starts to feel energetic and purposeful. The big turning point is the entry of Gollum. The more dark and sinister things become, the more The Hobbit becomes compelling as a story, and achieves a tone and look that feel right. Thank Hobbitses for Gollum, then. And thank Hobbitses for the film’s more involving later scenes, including a showdown between two stone giants and a run-in with a villain who gives Jabba the Hutt a run for his money in the beauty stakes. It’s scenes such as these that leave you looking forward to the next one rather than wanting to strangle one of the more annoying dwarves – or at least bury him in a hole in The Shire. Dave Calhoun
Weekly box office: Dhs1,627,122 Weekly admissions: 35,886 Total box office: Dhs8,244,609 Total admissions: 177,479
2 Jack Reacher Director: Christopher McQuarrie Stars: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike and Richard Jenkins
Jack Reacher is based on the popular Lee Child novel ‘One Shot’, and follows the title character as he investigates the murders of five random victims of a sniper shootout. The movie begins with a sharp-looking sniper, selecting his victims through a sniper scope and then quickly eliminating them in one brisk shot. The police investigate and arrest the suspect, who they believe is the shooter. During his interrogation he says nothing, but on a notepad he writes ‘Get Jack Reacher’.
The following scene has two police investigators reading up on Reacher with the conventional dialogue of a tough as nails guy, served in the military, brilliant investigation skills, numerous awards and the ever so clichéd, “Can’t find him, unless he wants to be found”. This marks the entry of Jack Reacher, portrayed by a younger (he is now 50) looking Tom Cruise with a broad physique and a no-nonsense look on his face, who’s there to learn why the man he despises the most has asked for his help.
During his investigation Reacher learns that the killings weren’t random and there is a much higher conspiracy at play. His shrewd detective skills and years of hardened military training ensures he leaves no stones unturned and takes on hired thugs, a brilliant thundering car chase sequence between Reacher and the assassins and outsmarts nearly the entire police unit to uncover the truth.
The supporting cast although credible in their performances somehow fell flat and redundant half way through the movie. Rosamund Pike started off very motivating, but her character lacked the anxiety and urgency once the plot started to thicken. The addition of legendary German film-maker Werner Herzog as the film’s spooky villain seemed quite intriguing at first, but he was reduced to nothing more than a shadowy figure simply lurking in the background. Although quite late into the movie, a magnificent special appearance from the seasoned Robert Duvall as Reacher’s sidekick provided excitement and thrill to a climax that was quickly losing its momentum. Lastly, a splendid performance by Jai Courtney as the master assassin is proving he has the mettle to grab a foothold in Hollywood. He put up a tough fight against Tom Cruise in the finale and next spring he will rub shoulders with another Hollywood heavyweight - Bruce Willis in ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’.
Jack Reacher is Tom Cruise’s show from the very first moment he enters the frame. His performance as the judge and executioner to those who think they are above the law pays homage to a modern age persona of Harry Callahan aka Dirty Harry. The film clearly does have its flaws with underused performances and unexplained sub plots, but these can easily be overlooked due to the movie’s thrilling momentum and Tom’s onscreen persona. It’s not the usual over the top movie audiences have come to expect from Cruise’s previous films, but a rather down to earth execution makes Jack Reacher a first-rate action thriller. Ashford Fernandez
Weekly box office: Dhs2,122,462 Weekly admissions: 52,525 Total box office: Dhs5,682,308 Total admissions: 141,636
1 Life of Pi (3D) Director: Ang Lee Stars: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan and Adil Hussain
Yann Martel’s 2001 novel Life of Pi divided readers: some found its wide-eyed spirituality and magic-realist invention intoxicating, while others choked on its pantheistic platitudes and winsome authorial voice. Against all the odds, Ang Lee’s epic 3D adaptation might just unite the two camps: fans will lap up the film’s dedication to capturing the spirit of Martel’s words, while doubters may well find themselves – slowly, grudgingly – persuaded by the film’s astonishing visual confidence and narrative force.
Three actors (notably teenager Suraj Sharma, recently spotted in Dubai on the red carpet to launch the film) play Pi, the middle-class lad from Pondicherry whose adolescent explorations of faith are interrupted when the container ship on which he’s travelling goes down in the Pacific. Everyone on board drowns, except for Pi and four denizens of his father’s zoo, among them a ferocious Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. The question is how long boy and tiger can coexist, miles from land and fresh water, and with precious little hope of rescue.
A word of warning for the traditionalists: Life of Pi is a film steeped in CGI, and there are very few shots here without some kind of process element. But this isn’t some sort of sickly, soupy digital phantasmagoria: Lee handles the special effects and especially the 3D with absolute surety, creating moments of jaw-dropping, eye-ravishing beauty.
Finding Neverland writer David Magee’s script isn’t quite so successful: mostly he manages to avoid both syrupy sentiment and hazy magical thinking, but a late diversion onto an island randomly populated by meerkats feels jarringly out of place, while some of the voiceover is a little heavy-handed.
But it all comes together in a blunt but forceful finale, as the scales fall from our eyes and all our doubts are cleverly addressed. It’s here that Lee stamps his claim on Martel’s work, and all that rampant visual excess comes into sharp focus. For Lee, this isn’t just a story about God, life, death and our place in the world – it’s about cinema too and how, in the modern age, it’s inextricably interlinked with everything we feel and experience. It’s a remarkable moment in a remarkable film: flawed, yes, but marvellously ambitious, and unforgettably gorgeous to look at. Tom Huddleston
Weekly box office: Dhs3,041,347 Weekly admissions: 59,657 Total box office: Dhs6,925,678 Total admissions: 139,771