The most popular films at the UAE box office last week
Time Out Dubai staff
10 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: Dhs162,416 Weekly admissions: 4,650 Total box office: Dhs6,831,194 Total admissions: 165,619
9 Hitchcock Director: Sacha Gervasi Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Danny Huston, Toni Collette, Michael Stuhlbarg, Michael Wincott, Jessica Biel
He was the world’s most famous film director, yet Alfred Hitchcock gambled his reputation on a horror pic deemed so toxic by Hollywood that he had to bankroll it himself. Psycho was the epoch-changing result, and this fact-based drama zooms in on its making, examining Hitchcock the artist and man when the pressure was on.
On the making-of details, it’s breezily entertaining as Anthony Hopkins’ Master of Suspense battles to preserve his vision. However, when Sacha Gervasi’s follow-up to his splendid music doc Anvil ponders just what this shocking tale of voyeurism says about Hitchcock’s own psyche, it has less to say.
Still, Mirren and Hopkins excel in each other’s company, neediness and jealousy glinting in their banter of married routine. The dialogue is almost zippy enough to convince us they’re in a better movie than this scatty, intriguing but slightly undercooked effort. Trevor Johnston
Weekly box office: Dhs202,851 Weekly admissions: 4,690 Total box office: Dhs202,851 Total admissions: 4,690
8 The Dream of a Butterfly Director: Yilmaz Erdogan Stars: Kivanç Tatlitug, Belçim Bilgin, Mert Firat, Farah Zeynep Abdullah, Yilmaz Erdogan, Taner Birsel, Aksel Bonfil, Ahmet Mümtaz Taylan
During the Second World War in the Black Sea city of Zonguldak, twentysomething poets Rustu Onur and Muzaffer Tayyip Uslu fall head over heels in love with Suzan, daughter of prominent businessman Zikri. The writers agree a wager. Rustu or Muzaffer will both pen Suzan a poem and ask her to read their verse: Whichever composition she chooses as her favourite will determine whether Rustu or Muzaffer can woo her. TO
Weekly box office: Dhs219,268 Weekly admissions: 5,937 Total box office: Dhs219,268 Total admissions: 5,937
7 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: Dhs489,017 Weekly admissions: 11,922 Total box office: Dhs2,770,407 Total admissions: 68,331
6 Vehicle 19 Director: Mukunda Michael Dewil Stars: Paul Walker, Naima McLean, Gys de Villiers, Leyla Haidarian, Tshepo Maseko, Andrian Mazive, Welile Nzuza, Mangaliso Ngema
This low-budget US thriller is the second movie from South African filmmaker Mukunda Michael Dewil, whose last, Retribution, was only released on home soil. While he has American money behind him for this follow-up, it’s still set in his Johannesburg stomping ground, where a tourist unwittingly picks up a hire car that will tie him to a wave of corruption. Quite aside from taking the award for the dullest film name we’ve encountered, the lead goes to Paul Walker, who’ll be channelling the same machismo he brought to the role of Brian O’Conner in the Fast & Furious movies. Rob Garratt
Weekly box office: Dhs458,890 Weekly admissions: 12,858 Total box office: Dhs2,020,787 Total admissions: 53,247
5 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: Dhs565,584 Weekly admissions: 15,399 Total box office: Dhs4,649,333 Total admissions: 117,378
4 Hunt to Kill Director: Keoni Waxman Stars: Eric Roberts, Steve Austin, Gary Daniels, Marie Avgeropoulos, Gil Bellows, Emilie Ullerup, Michael Eklund, Donnelly Rhodes
Another week, another straight-to-DVD action romp. This time former wrestler ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin is a bereaved US special agent who is taken hostage with his daughter by a group of crims. Having only seen screens in Canada and Poland, it lands in UAE cinemas three years after it hit DVD bargain bins elsewhere. Rob Garratt
Weekly box office: Dhs572,250 Weekly admissions: 16,223 Total box office: Dhs572,250 Total admissions: 16,223
Hindi film directed by Subhash Kapoor. Time Out Dubai staff
Weekly box office: Dhs677,850 Weekly admissions: 20,499 Total box office: Dhs677,850 Total admissions: 20,499
2 Oz the Great and Powerful Director: Sam Raimi Stars: James Franco, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, Mila Kunis, Zach Braff, Bill Cobbs, Joey King, Tony Cox
It’s been 28 years since Disney last followed the Yellow Brick Road – and given the critical and commercial whipping endured by 1985’s Return to Oz, you can hardly blame them for being cautious. Such is the cultural landmark status of MGM’s 1939 The Wizard of Oz that any attempt to adjoin it on screen, however laudable, seems a fool’s errand from the get-go.
The good news is that Sam Raimi’s long, lavish, somewhat lumbering prequel is a more respectful retread than we might have expected. From its engaging black-and-white prologue, introducing James Franco as Oscar, a Kansas conjuror set for a very unexpected journey, to the widened aspect ratio and saturated Technicolor-style palette as he’s carried to Oz by a tornado, Raimi’s film is far more in thrall to the Hollywood classic than the subversive Return to Oz was.
As Oscar is mistakenly embraced by the people of Oz as their leader, charged with settling the battle between good (as represented by Michelle Williams’s wholesome witch Glinda) and evil (vampishly wielded by Rachel Weisz’s Evanora), he’s effectively a smart stand-in for Dorothy, with the film treading a story path as indebted to the original as its explicitly referential production design.
What it lacks, rather like Oscar himself, is any authentic magic: the script’s post-Shrek wisecracks feel out of place, and the over-processed digital landscapes can’t match the beauty of handmade Hollywood artifice. We’re still left decidedly under the rainbow. Guy Lodge
Weekly box office: Dhs1,380,740 Weekly admissions: 29,308 Total box office: Dhs4,176,118 Total admissions: 86,687
1 Jack the Giant Slayer (3D) Director: Bryan Singer Stars: Nicholas Hoult, Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor, Eleanor Tomlinson, Eddie Marsan, Ewen Bremner, Ian McShane, Christopher Fairbank
The title promises slaughtered giants, but director Bryan Singer’s lumbering adventure movie is really just a stop in the ongoing death march of cinema. Years from now, we’ll gather round to tell our children tales of a glorious narrative art form that was murdered by CGI spectacle, dim 3-D, poorly motivated action sequences and market-tested gimmickry. Taking a healthy swig from Lord of the Rings’ cup, this high-concept Jack and the Beanstalk dresses up traditionalism in expensive nothingness, much like the director’s Superman Returns.
Drained of colour, the action doesn’t skimp on projectile effects, but the geometry of who’s where often seems patched together in the editing room. If you’re watching a castle torn asunder and all you can think about is how fake the destruction looks, that’s not magic; it’s the movie-making equivalent of Miracle-Gro. Ben Kenigsberg
Weekly box office: Dhs3,130,489 Weekly admissions: 64,680 Total box office: Dhs3,130,489 Total admissions: 64,680