Which films were the most popular in UAE cinemas last week?
Time Out Dubai staff
10 Life of Pi 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: Dhs85,893 Weekly admissions: 1,835 Total box office: Dhs11,762,219 Total admissions: 238,866
Starring comedian Ahmed Helmy, this Egyptian comedy tells the story of Raouf, an interior decorator who falls into a coma.
Weekly box office: Dhs125,713 Weekly admissions: 3,574 Total box office: Dhs4,206,372 Total admissions: 117,490
8 Mohema Fi Film Kadem Director: Fifi Abdou, Edward and Madlin Matar Stars: Ahmed El Badry
Comedy film directed by Fifi Abdou, Edward and Madlin Matar.
Weekly box office: Dhs155,934 Weekly admissions: 4,462 Total box office: Dhs155,934 Total admissions: 4,462
7 Top Cat Director: Alberto Mar Stars: Jason Harris, Chris Edgerly, Bill Lobley, Melissa Disney, Brian Scott McFadden, Fred Tatasciore, Sondra James, Danny Mastrogiorgio
Kids will laugh at anything, right? Not this tawdry remake of Hanna-Barbera’s cartoon series about a streetwise tom and his posse of alley cats. The original ran for 30 episodes in the early ’60s and was never that funny, but fans loved its jazzy theme tune and Sergeant Bilko-esque swagger enough to give it cult status.
Unfortunately, this feline frenzy – a Mexican production, dubbed into English – is a miserable indulgence. The wafer-thin plot revolves around an plan to turn New York into a futuristic dictatorship by replacing police officers – including TC’s nemesis Officer Dibble – with robots.
To be fair, the filmmakers at least had the foresight to keep the original theme tune intact, and the traditional animation techniques do add authenticity, even if the 3D effect gives the characters a cardboard cut-out appearance. A pity, then, that the key elements – storyline, dialogue, comedy value – are so ineffectual. An air of boredom permeated the screening we attended, and laughs were universally non-existent. Derek Adams
Weekly box office: Dhs407,326 Weekly admissions: 8,504 Total box office: Dhs407,326 Total admissions: 8,504
6 Mama Director: Andrés Muschietti Stars: Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier, Isabelle Nélisse, Daniel Kash, Javier Botet, Jane Moffat, Morgan McGarry
Andrés Muschietti’s three-minute fright flick Mamá (2008) fully delivered on the hair-raising horror of its premise: two young sisters try to sneak out of their house when an undead spectre comes to collect them. Though uneven, the first-time feature director’s expansion of the short is leagues better than its January-doldrums release date suggests.
After seemingly fending for themselves for five years, the feral Victoria (Megan Charpentier) and Lilly (Isabelle Nélisse) are sent to live with their uncle, Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), and his metalhead girlfriend, Annabel (Jessica Chastain), in an upscale house paid for by the local psychiatric hospital. But the girls have brought someone along with them, a jealously protective wraith who will stop at nothing to keep the siblings close to her.
As in the short, Muschietti displays a refreshingly keen visual sense that’s rare in modern horror movies; one gorgeous extended shot captures the sisters having a gravity-defying playdate while an oblivious Annabel does household chores. The co-writer-director is also well attuned to the story’s devastating emotional undercurrents, especially when the maternal allegiances of the attached-at-the-hip siblings diverge. It’s here that you can see the influence of executive producer Guillermo del Toro.
Too bad there’s a preponderance of idiot plotting to make sure certain people end up in certain places so that jump-scares can commence. Expertly conjured atmosphere only gets Muschietti so far, but there’s enough genuine promise here that you’re willing to cut this talented newcomer some slack. Keith Uhlich
Weekly box office: Dhs358,068 Weekly admissions: 9,676 Total box office: Dhs2,761,535 Total admissions: 77,373
5 A Good Day to Die Hard Director: John Moore Stars: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Yuliya Snigir, Radivoje Bukvic, Cole Hauser, Amaury Nolasco
Maybe the old Bruce Willis Die Hard franchise is getting a little out of hand. John McClane. His son. In Russia. Allegedly fighting some terrorist outfit? According to the internet, this umpteenth sequel involves McClane (now older, probably wiser but surely less energetic) flying to Russia to bail out his son who’s in a spot of bother with the local police. Maybe McClane headbutts the police chief or spills a glass of bubbly over a politician. Whatever the kick-off, we can safely assume there’ll be a lot of running around, dodging of bullets and the uttering of such universally-recognised phrases as, ‘yippee ki-yay muthaf*****!’. Father, do watch your language. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs658,607 Weekly admissions: 16,012 Total box office: Dhs6,315,825 Total admissions: 152,708
4 Silent Hill: Revelation Director: Michael J. Bassett Stars: Adelaide Clemens, Kit Harington, Sean Bean, Carrie-Anne Moss, Radha Mitchell, Malcolm McDowell, Martin Donovan, Deborah Kara Unger
Much more so than its Roger Avary-penned predecessor, Silent Hill: Revelation adheres to the laws of videogame storytelling. Chronicling the return of now-teenage Sharon (Michelle Williams lookalike Adelaide Clemens) to the foggy, eponymous town, the film alternates between numbing exposition, delivered through back-and-forth dialogue exchanges that play like cut scenes, and loud, stereoscopic carnage. Ignore the convoluted nonsense plot, and some of the Hellraiser-goes-to-Elm Street imagery may worm its way into your nightmares. Scariest in show: a beast constructed entirely of mannequin parts, like the life-size descendant of those mutant playthings in Toy Story. AA Dowd
Weekly box office: Dhs792,184 Weekly admissions: 18,062 Total box office: Dhs792,184 Total admissions: 18,062
3 Snitch Director: Ric Roman Waugh Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Susan Sarandon, Jon Bernthal, Barry Pepper, Michael Kenneth Williams, Rafi Gavron, Melina Kanakaredes, Benjamin Bratt
This action thriller stars Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as a law-abiding guy who agrees to infiltrate a crime cartel as part of a police deal to save his son from a wrongfully convicted prison sentence. Director Ric Roman Waugh is best known as a reformed stuntman who worked on Arnie movies, including Total Recall and Last Action Hero, and hasn’t directed a feature since 2008’s Val Kilmer vehicle, Felon. We’re not quite sure what allure the script had for Susan Sarandon, who appears in a supporting role. Rob Garratt
Weekly box office: Dhs704,772 Weekly admissions: 19,823 Total box office: Dhs3,439,435 Total admissions: 86,288
2 Identity Thief Director: Seth Gordon Stars: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, John Cho, Amanda Peet, T.I., Genesis Rodriguez, Morris Chestnut, John Cho
He was a decent sitcom funnyman; she was a bit player who, thanks to a bravura turn in Bridesmaids, was immediately added to Hollywood’s comic A-list. Put these two dynamos together and it would be virtually impossible to make a movie that wasn’t brimming with omigod moments of hilarity, right? Right?
From the famous-last-words department comes this comedic car wreck, which wastes not one but two major talents. It starts promisingly: no sooner has Melissa McCarthy’s scam artist bilked Jason Bateman’s financial-industry everyguy out of his social security number than she’s trashing a nightclub and charging the damage to his credit card. Watch McCarthy’s face as she injects wide-eyed glee into her character’s mania. Then listen to the deadpan way Bateman addresses his kids at a birthday dinner (‘Thank you all for coming’). Enjoy those brief guffaws, since once his disgraced hero decides to drag this credit-fraud criminal from the Sunshine State to Colorado – bring on the gratuitous bounty hunter – the silence that greets the desperate lunges at humour becomes deafening.
With Horrible Bosses, director Seth Gordon established that cringe comedy wasn’t his forte; this painful endeavour confirms he should stick to non-fiction. The film somehow fails as a star vehicle, a recession-era satire, a white-collar-grunt revenge tale, a Midnight Run-style buddy flick, a gross-out laughfest and a tale of broken souls. No amount of stolen guises can fix it. David Fear
Weekly box office: Dhs1,458,708 Weekly admissions: 36,098 Total box office: Dhs1,458,708 Total admissions: 36,098
1 Parker Director: Taylor Hackford Stars: Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Chiklis, Wendell Pierce, Clifton Collins Jr., Bobby Cannavale, Patti LuPone, Carlos Carrasco
The smirk stays the same and his movies never transcend the merely serviceable, so how does British hard case Jason Statham keep in work? It’s not exactly a burning question, but with the title creation of crime-novel giant Donald E Westlake in the actor’s hands, it’s easy to yearn for the days when Statham stuck to Guy Ritchie projects. Based on 2000’s Flashfire, the tonally confused Parker puts Statham in the role of a ruthless robber, betrayed by nincompoop colleagues whom he eventually goes crazy on. Nothing burns in Statham: there’s no fire in those squints, nothing on the level of Lee Marvin’s relentless drive in 1967’s Point Blank, also based on a Westlake property.
After recovering from a left-for-dead roadside disposal, Parker heads south to Florida’s swanky Palm Beach. The smidgen of dramatic colour offered by Jennifer Lopez, as a real-estate broker drawn into Parker’s payback scheme, is offset by her character’s shocking naïveté, shedding her clothes on command and falling unconvincingly for Statham’s featureless cipher. When a well-appointed film only makes you want to crack the book, something’s amiss. Joshua Rothkopf
Weekly box office: Dhs2,982,742 Weekly admissions: 73,485 Total box office: Dhs2,982,742 Total admissions: 73,485