Which 10 films made the biggest impact on Dubai's box office?
Time Out Dubai staff
10 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: Dhs284,171 Weekly admissions: 7,808 Total box office: Dhs3,125,510 Total admissions: 84,750
9 This is 40 Director: Judd Apatow Stars: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Maude Apatow, Iris Apatow, Jason Segel, Annie Mumolo, Robert Smigel, Megan Fox
Any filmmaker who casts his wife and children in central roles is inviting autobiographical readings, though one hopes Judd Apatow’s family life is less tumultuous than the one in This Is 40. Billed as a ‘sort-of sequel’ to his Knocked Up, this scattered but ambitious comedy from the writer-director-producer plays more like a spin-off, focusing on the supporting characters of that 2007 smash. No more financially or emotionally stable than they were five years earlier, bickering spouses Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Mrs Apatow herself, Leslie Mann) navigate the rocky terrain of marriage, parenthood and middle age. The kids are played by the filmmaker’s own brood (14-year-old Maude and ten-year-old Iris), who have grown into confident child actors.
For all its broad comic bits – Pete faking bowel movements to sneak off for alone time, Debbie confronting a teenage boy who’s been harassing her daughter – the film demonstrates a shrewd understanding of the cycles of fighting and reconciliation that plague long-term relationships. What Apatow hasn’t outgrown, alas, is his tendency to overstuff every movie with superfluous bit players. AA Dowd
Weekly box office: Dhs309,380 Weekly admissions: 8,091 Total box office: Dhs900,487 Total admissions: 22,677
8 Tad, the Lost Explorer Director: Enrique Gato Stars: Meritxell Ané, Óscar Barberán, Carles Canut, Fiona Glascott, Adam James, Michelle Jenner
This Spanish-language 3D kids’ film is about eponymous dreamer Tadeo, whose youthful indecision is broken when he is mistaken for a famous archaeologist and sent on an expedition to Peru. He’s joined by his faithful dog Jeff, a fearless teacher and a parrot on his bid to save the mythical lost city of the Incas from an evil corporation hunting long-lost hidden treasures. TO
Weekly box office: Dhs405,333 Weekly admissions: 8,513 Total box office: Dhs900,308 Total admissions: 18,889
7 Matru ki Bijlee ka Mandola Director: Vishal Bhardwaj Stars: Imran Khan, Anushka Sharma and Pankaj Kapur
This is the sort of film where people have visions of pink buffaloes, where a man piloting a burning jet finds time to light his cigar with the flaming propeller. And it’s all the better for it.
This isn’t to say that Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola doesn’t talk about “real issues”. Along the way, the film addresses the Indian economy’s shift from agriculture to industry to services, touches on the builder-politician nexus, bungs the 3G scam into a song, and even says the words “honour killing”.
More than anything else, Vishal Bhardwaj’s film follows the example of Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, which also mixed its social criticism with scenes of inspired lunacy. Yaaro fans will find a lot here that’s familiar: Babbar’s buffoonery brings to mind the hyperactive Ravi Baswani, and there’s a scene with a screen door that’s reminiscent of the phone call gag from the earlier film.
Weekly box office: Dhs288,916 Weekly admissions: 8,615 Total box office: Dhs1,466,272 Total admissions: 44,281
6 Les Misérables Director: Tom Hooper Stars: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway
Do you hate musicals? Do you think West End shows are naff? Well, you might find yourself converted by Tom Hooper’s rabble-rousing film of London’s longest running musical (staggering fact: 60 million people worldwide have seen Les Mis). On Hooper’s side is a dream cast of Hollywood’s finest performing live on camera. Not everyone will be sold by the emotional thwack of Claude-Michel Schönberg’s earworm numbers. What gives it a beating heart is that the actors are singing live – rather than the normal practice of lip-synching in the studio. Cath Clarke
Weekly box office: Dhs428,709 Weekly admissions: 10,324 Total box office: Dhs2,162,334 Total admissions: 54,435
5 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: Dhs475,230 Weekly admissions: 12,650 Total box office: Dhs7,991,757 Total admissions: 200,185
4 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: Dhs962,663 Weekly admissions: 19,620 Total box office: Dhs10,471,016 Total admissions: 211,829
3 Chinese Zodiac Director: Jackie Chan Stars: Jackie Chan, Oliver Platt, Laura Weissbecker, Caitlin Dechelle, Emilie Guillot
Writer-director-producer-star Jackie Chan flashes his exuberant spirit in his latest flick, a mildly diverting, predictably written and earnestly executed action adventure that has all the vibe of being one of his last. Playing the leader of a heist team that specialises in priceless artworks, he starts out as an opportunistic master thief who sells his discoveries to the villains (read: the auction houses) before finding conscience and patriotism – true story of his life? – during a mission to track down the lost bronze zodiac animal heads looted from the Old Summer Palace in Beijing.
The film does have its moments: the pre-credit getaway in a roller suit and the climactic skydiving mission are just two of the few. But the takeaway impression here is one of its star’s weariness: Chan’s trademark blooper reels, often the most hilarious bits of his movies, are replaced by a sentimental voiceover that every time he does action he feels like ‘maybe it’s the last shot in my life’. A pedestrian film aside from its action design, Chan has set the stage to go out respectably as his generation’s pre-eminent martial arts icon. The rest is up to him. Edmund Lee
Weekly box office: Dhs1,550,933 Weekly admissions: 37,898 Total box office: Dhs4,679,707 Total admissions: 107,102
2 Django Unchained Director: Quentin Tarantino Stars: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins
In the past decade there were those who – reasonably – assumed that Quentin Tarantino’s hour had passed. Following the movie-geek sprawl of the Kill Bill movies, the crass indulgence of Death Proof and the diverting but directionless Inglourious Basterds, it seemed as though the ultimate fanboy had slipped into a terminal decline.
Well, somebody’s clearly rattled the man’s cage, because Django Unchained is a blazing return to form. The topic is American slavery: Jamie Foxx is Django, freed from a chain gang by German bounty hunter Schultz (Waltz), and on a mission to rescue his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). Only trouble is, Hildy is owned by Mississippi slavemaster Calvin Candy (Leonardo DiCaprio), whose ugly reputation precedes him.
It isn’t without problems: Django Unchained feels a little ersatz, favouring momentary thrills over lasting emotional punch. But it’s bursting with pleasures great and small: the note-perfect performances, a brace of close-to-the-bone moments, the soaring cine-literate soundtrack, the sheer, relentless drive. Tom Huddleston
Weekly box office: Dhs1,646,694 Weekly admissions: 39,701 Total box office: Dhs1,646,694 Total admissions: 39,701
1 The Last Stand Director: Jee-woon Kim Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Eduardo Noriega, Forest Whitaker, Arron Shiver, Sonny Landham
Schwarzenegger isn’t quite right for the plot’s easy-going Eastwoodian setup, yet these shortcomings disappear as the movie strips down to its surprisingly satisfying payoff: an ’80s-style actioner heavy on the squibs and catchphrases. He’s back in the place that deserves him. Joshua Rothkopf
Weekly box office: Dhs1,810,867 Weekly admissions: 44,716 Total box office: Dhs1,810,867 Total admissions: 44,716