Which films made it to the top of the UAE box office this week?
Time Out Dubai staff
10 Side Effects Director: Steven Soderbergh Stars: Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum, Jude Law
The final film from Steven Soderbergh is a slippery one. Channing Tatum stars as Martin, a former Wall Street hotshot about to leave jail. There’s Rooney Mara as his nervy wife Emily, Jude Law as Jonathan, a shrink who treats her after she drives her car into a wall, and Catherine Zeta-Jones as her psychiatrist, Victoria.
Set in a coolly observed New York of fractured grids and watching eyes, a world of careerism, materialism and one-upmanship, Side Effects is great fun: its characters are well acted without being entirely likeable, which makes their jeopardy all the more enjoyable while putting us at a clinical remove. The script barrels along at enough of a lick for us to forgive some clunky elements. And Soderbergh’s delight in technique is obvious, from masterfully attentive editing to a tendency to look skywards.
Given Soderbergh’s announcement of his retirement from filmmaking, it’s tempting to look at this as a collection of facets of his diverse career. There’s the queasy interpersonal tension with which he made his name (Sex, Lies and Videotape); the interest in mental illness (Kafka, Schizopolis, The Informant!); the delight in slippery genre storytelling (Out of Sight, Ocean’s Eleven); a concern for the impact of big forces on individuals’ lives (Erin Brockovich, Traffic, Contagion); and a willingness to flit between these things with speed. But this is also a movie that tells us not to count someone out too soon: rumours of his withdrawal might yet prove exaggerated. Ben Walters
Weekly box office: Dhs240,926 Weekly admissions: 4,986 Total box office: Dhs900,443 Total admissions: 20,803
9 The Snow Queen Director: Vlad Barbe and Maksim Sveshnikov Stars: Anna Ardova, Lyudmila Artemeva, Doug Erholtz
Expect an animated revamp of the 1957 film, based on the story of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen. The film scarcely deviates from the original story which, true to fairytale form, tells of the struggle between good and evil, as experienced by a young boy and girl named Kai and Gerda. Don’t expect to be blown away with Pixar-level animation or gags that will tickle older senses of humour – this one will be best left to the real kids. TO
Weekly box office: Dhs367,061 Weekly admissions: 8,391 Total box office: Dhs367,061 Total admissions: 8,391
8 The Last Exorcism Part II Director: Ed Gass-Donnelly Stars: Ashley Bell, Julia Garner, Spencer Treat Clark
In 2010, The Last Exorcism put a welcome twist on the found-footage genre by featuring a phony exorcist protagonist – a con man forced to believe his own eyes when confronted with the creepy documentary-style images captured on camera. The curiously titled The Last Exorcism Part II abandons both the original’s found-footage conceit and its wit, instead bringing back Nell (Ashley Bell), the poor possessed girl of the first film, for another round of demon torment. Director Ed Gass-Donnelly spares no well-tested shock technique or voodoo cliché for his New Orleans-based sequel, but the results are more tedious than terrifying. Keith Phipps
Weekly box office: Dhs376,929 Weekly admissions: 10,504 Total box office: Dhs1,521,410 Total admissions: 42,771
7 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: Dhs447,193 Weekly admissions: 11,642 Total box office: Dhs5,455,520 Total admissions: 118,204
The righteously slaphappy Madea (Perry) agrees to shelter an upper-class white family whose patriarch (Levy at his most shrill) is the fall guy in a mob-linked corporate Ponzi scheme. The film’s best gags – such as Madea’s elderly brother Joe (Perry again) trying to determine if Levy’s character is his illegitimate son – stem from the resulting culture clash. The writer-director-star still hasn’t learned to smoothly blend broad comedy and family-values sermonising. His out-of-costume supporting performance as an FBI agent (who gets about as much screen time as the title character) suggests he may be tiring of his own routines. AA Dowd
Weekly box office: Dhs436,106 Weekly admissions: 11,962 Total box office: Dhs436,106 Total admissions: 11,962
5 The Bay Director: Barry Levinson Stars: Will Rogers, Kristen Connolly, Kether Donohue
If you’re of a morbid mind-set, horror can happen anywhere: a suburban Nevada home (Paranormal Activity 4), a fast-food drive-through lane (Final Destination 3), a red-tag supermarket (The Mist). But isn’t it scariest when the whole world outside turns out to be the problem? The Bay, a real creepfest, joins the suggestive company of eco-terror entries like Hitchcock’s The Birds. The good news is that this new movie is much more frightening than any plot description would imply. On a July 4th weekend, Marylanders celebrating on Chesapeake Bay find themselves suddenly itching and erupting in sores. Soon come the icky flesh-eating isopods, borne by steroid-saturated spill water. Suffice it to say, the barbecue’s off.
Who could be orchestrating this jittery police footage and iPhone shrieking? (The movie uses the found-footage gag to exceptional success.) The director of Rain Man, of course: Barry Levinson has never been a bumps-in-the-night kind of guy, but he’s committed himself to what initially feels like a slight project. The result is a genre film made with exactly the elements that are often lacking: dry, realistic performances, an expert sense of pacing and – because Levinson can – a thrillingly forward indictment of big agriculture and the political forces that would pollute communities for quick jobs. The body count is massive, the gore voluminous – yet at stake is a conceivable American future. Joshua Rothkopf
Weekly box office: Dhs441,747 Weekly admissions: 12,736 Total box office: Dhs441,747 Total admissions: 12,736
4 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: Dhs511,634 Weekly admissions: 12,850 Total box office: Dhs4,982,801 Total admissions: 107,115
3 Olympus Has Fallen Director: Antoine Fuqua Stars: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman
This promising thriller from Training Day director Antoine Fuqua has a less-than-promising-sounding plot: former Special Forces pro Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is demoted to a lowly desk job in the White House. So when a terrorist mastermind breaks in and holds the president (Eckhart) hostage, Banning/Butler goes all Jack Bauer for his country and, we suspect, singlehandedly saves the day. However, the all-star cast – Morgan Freeman is thrust in as an aid, while Rick Yune plays a North Korean baddie – and Fuqua’s strong track record mean this may be more compelling than it sounds. Time Out Dubai staff
Weekly box office: Dhs1,251,839 Weekly admissions: 32,435 Total box office: Dhs4,161,482 Total admissions: 103,417
2 The Croods (3D) Director: Kirk De Micco, Chris Sanders Stars: Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone
Nicolas Cage voices a caveman in this comedy animation from the Dreamworks stable. Forced out of his home by an earthquake, Grug takes his family on the road (well, ‘path’, maybe) and encounters an imaginative nomad (Ryan Reynolds) whose forward-thinking manner unsettles him. His daughter (Emma Stone), however, has other ideas about the attractive stranger. The writer-directors of this movie have form with How to Train Your Dragon and Space Chimps, so there may well be family appeal. Time Out Dubai staff
Weekly box office: Dhs2,359,129 Weekly admissions: 53,471 Total box office: Dhs5,005,756 Total admissions: 109,848
1 G.I. Joe: Retaliation Director: Jon M. Chu Stars: Channing Tatum, Dwayne Johnson, Ray Park
In his guise as the President of the United States, the evil Zartan frames the GI Joes as traitors to the American cause and uses his position to aim nuclear warheads at peaceful nations in order to seize control of the planet. Without any back-up, Roadblock, Flint, Lady Jaye, Duke and Snake Eyes seek out the original GI Joe, General Joseph Colton, and enlist his services to defeat Zartan and his heinous henchmen, Storm Shadow and Firefly. TO
Weekly box office: Dhs7,632,792 Weekly admissions: 163,450 Total box office: Dhs7,632,792 Total admissions: 163,450