Action, comedy, romance or drama - what was the top of the box office this week?
Time Out Dubai staff
10 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: Dhs234,917 Weekly admissions: 6,239 Total box office: Dhs5,690,437 Total admissions: 124,443
9 The Place Beyond the Pines Director: Derek Cianfrance Stars: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes
American independent movies are regularly compared to Bruce Springsteen songs – so much of the DNA is the same, from blue-collar angst, passion and heartbreak to petty crime and prison time. The third feature from Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance feels like an entire Springsteen LP, an intimate story of smalltown folk played in the soaring major key of epic melodrama.
The first act – side one, if you like – is pure old-time rock ’n’ roll, as Ryan Gosling’s born-to-run stunt rider Handsome Luke’s girlfriend Eva Mendes falls pregnant, so he decides to do the right thing by staying in town. The second part is more stadium-friendly, as Bradley Cooper’s wounded cop comes face to face with corruption in his department, in the form of Ray Liotta’s captain. Finally, it’s time for some earnest introspection – get the acoustic guitars out – as both men’s adolescent sons struggle to overcome their family demons.
Writer-director Cianfrance opts for a naturalistic tone: the colours are muted, the camerawork unobtrusive and the dialogue straight and honest. This is an enormously satisfying film: carefully observed and compelling, it feels like an instant American classic, if a minor one. Cianfrance’s conclusions may tend towards the obvious – crime doesn’t pay, cops can be crooks – but there’s nothing wrong with an old song, as long as it’s well sung. Just ask The Boss. Tom Huddleston
Weekly box office: Dhs352,447 Weekly admissions: 9,638 Total box office: Dhs352,447 Total admissions: 9,638
8 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: Dhs507,698 Weekly admissions: 13,727 Total box office: Dhs4,669,180 Total admissions: 117,144
7 Zambezia (3D) Director: Wayne Thornley Stars: Leonard Nimoy, Jeremy Suarez, Abigail Breslin
This South African 3D kids’ animation follows Kai, a high-spirited young falcon who travels to the bird city of Zambezia and discovers the truth about his origins. First-time writer-director Wayne Thornley is at the helm, while most remarkably Leonard Nimoy – the original Spock from Star Trek – is on voiceover duties. TO
Weekly box office: Dhs711,802 Weekly admissions: 16,588 Total box office: Dhs711,802 Total admissions: 16,588
6 The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Director: Don Scardino Stars: Steve Carell, Luke Vanek, Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde
There’s no denying that the sight of a great actor at work can be a singular pleasure. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone has two such actors – Steve Buscemi and Alan Arkin – as part of a gallery of very watchable faces that also includes Steve Carell, Jim Carrey and James Gandolfini. It’s just a pity that watching these men work is the only pleasure the film has to offer.
Carell plays the titular magician, who has spent a decade entertaining audiences in Gandolfini’s Vegas hotel with sidekick Anton Marvelton (Buscemi). But audiences are now dwindling, Burt and Anton are at each other’s throats, and more daring comics like self-harming David Blaine-clone Steve Gray (Carrey) are on the rise.
From the gooey, overlong opening flashback sequence it’s clear that something’s off here: the jokes fall flat, the characters are obvious, the sentiment is too rich. In the end, there’s nothing here beyond the obvious riches-to-rags, celebrity-rivalry clichés. But the presence of those fine performers means that The Incredible Burt Wonderstone stays just the right side of bearable. Tom Huddleston
Weekly box office: Dhs897,672 Weekly admissions: 21,260 Total box office: Dhs897,672 Total admissions: 21,260
5 Jurassic Park (3D) Director: Steven Spielberg Stars: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum
To mark the 20th anniversary of Steven Spielberg’s game-changing dino-disaster movie comes this 3D re-release. There are no deleted scenes or new material, and because it was filmed in 2D any novel third-dimensional trickery is reported to be quite minimal, but it’s still another chance to catch an absolute classic on the big screen. TO
Weekly box office: Dhs1,100,134 Weekly admissions: 22,074 Total box office: Dhs1,100,134 Total admissions: 22,074
4 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: Dhs1,487,711 Weekly admissions: 34,659 Total box office: Dhs6,493,467 Total admissions: 144,507
3 Evil Dead Director: Fede Alvarez Stars: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Jessica Lucas
A remake of Sam Raimi’s 1981 horror classic. The original followed five college students on a trip to an isolated cabin in the woods where their holiday was rudely interrupted by a horde of demons. So can we expect a darker, nastier update? Yes, if the film’s tagline is anything to go by: ‘the most terrifying film you will ever experience’. TO
Weekly box office: Dhs1,502,383 Weekly admissions: 40,783 Total box office: Dhs1,502,383 Total admissions: 40,783
2 Dead Man Down Director: Niels Arden Oplev Stars: Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Dominic Cooper
Low-level mob enforcer Victor (Farrell) and his badly scarred neighbour Beatrice (Rapace) form an awkward partnership based on their shared interest in exacting revenge for past harms. After a jumbled first act that plays as though the film reels are being run out of order, Danish director Niels Arden Oplev’s crime thriller gets its one genuine surprise out of the way before settling into something eerily similar to his original adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (which also starred the razor-cheekboned Rapace): a long, dull swim through narrative syrup interrupted occasionally by poorly choreographed acts of violence. It’s essential only for those wanting to hear Farrell try on a Hungarian accent. Keith Phipps
Weekly box office: Dhs1,650,151 Weekly admissions: 44,126 Total box office: Dhs1,650,151 Total admissions: 44,126
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: Dhs2,525,064 Weekly admissions: 55,035 Total box office: Dhs10,157,856 Total admissions: 218,485