Did Iron Man 3 fly straight to the top of the UAE box office?
Time Out Dubai staff
10 The Host Director: Andrew Niccol Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Diane Kruger, Max Irons
This adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s tween romance novel unfolds in a dystopian future when alien parasites have nearly won the battle for Earth. One of the last surviving members of the Homo-sapiens resistance, Melanie (Ronan) is finally captured and implanted. The young woman cedes control to a foreign being named Wanderer and resists interrogation by the Seeker (Kruger).
No stranger to high concepts (Gattaca, In Time), writer-director Andrew Niccol helps The Host survive as a sci-fi movie even as he’s saddled with the Twilight author’s source material. The real drawback is the high-def video cinematography, which makes what once would have been a lush, grandscale blockbuster appear cheap and televisual. Ben Kenigsberg
Weekly box office: Dhs202,100 Weekly admissions: 5,119 Total box office: Dhs1,065,443 Total admissions: 26,437
9 Emperor Director: Peter Webber Stars: Tommy Lee Jones, Matthew Fox, Eriko Hatsune
With Japan’s cities still smoking, the post-WWII US occupation begins in earnest: General Douglas MacArthur (the effortlessly lordly Tommy Lee Jones) dons his sunglasses and descends to the tarmac with the curt order, ‘Let’s show them some good old-fashioned American swagger.’ The collision of this man with the surrendered Hirohito (Takatarô Kataoka), viewed by his people as a living god and unaccustomed to eye contact, is the stuff of legend.
An excellent movie about their meeting – Alexander Sokurov’s The Sun – already exists, emphasising the fallen leader’s strangeness. Here, those humbling scenes play more like Downton Abbey outtakes, bruised honour chafing with oh-no-he-didn’t gruffness.
It’s a moment big enough to dwell on, the hard man finding his penchant for peace. So why does Emperor push the real drama aside for a thoroughly misjudged central plot involving MacArthur’s number two, Bonner Fellers (Matthew Fox, a weight-free presence), tasked with privately assessing Hirohito’s culpability? Worse, the movie ladles on a gooey subplot involving Fellers’ abandoned Japanese lover, a painfully obvious metaphor for learning to love the enemy. Director Peter Webber, who once mined social unease from the painterly Girl with a Pearl Earring, is out of his depth; this is a movie in desperate need of a no-nonsense approach. Joshua Rothkopf
Weekly box office: Dhs210,238 Weekly admissions: 5,178 Total box office: Dhs210,238 Total admissions: 5,178
8 Comedown Director: Menhaj Huda Stars: Adam Deacon, Jessica Barden, Geoff Bell
Another week, another forgettable straight-to-DVD horror romp debuts on UAE screens. This one comes from the UK, and apart from screening at a couple of specialist horror fests, has been uniformly passed over prior to finding a place in supermarket bargain bins. From the director of 2006’s Kidulthood, a gritty slice of youth life on London’s streets and set to a soundtrack of the then-emerging grime scene, Menhaj Huda again goes back to teens and tempos with this tale of six friends who invade an abandoned tower block to start a pirate radio station, before a resident psychopath begins hunting them down. TO
Weekly box office: Dhs200,678 Weekly admissions: 5,483 Total box office: Dhs200,678 Total admissions: 5,483
7 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: Dhs251,457 Weekly admissions: 5,921 Total box office: Dhs11,815,333 Total admissions: 256,793
6 The Company You Keep Director: Robert Redford Stars: Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, Stanley Tucci
Run, Robert, run: The talented Mr Redford has made an art form out of going on the run, whether it’s from frontier super-posses (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) or intelligence-agency spooks (Three Days of the Condor). The latter film casts a large shadow, tone-wise, over the actor-director’s latest project, in which Redford plays a do-gooder lawyer standing up for truth, justice and the American way. Then a wanted ’60s radical (Susan Sarandon) turns herself in after decades of living underground, and an intrepid reporter (Shia LaBeouf) uncovers a connection between the prisoner, a bank robbery and the legal eagle. Soon, our star is surfing from one safe house to the next.
Redford’s devotion to old-school liberalism and ’70s socially informed dramas has been a directorial-career constant, and at its best, The Company You Keep feels like a movie you’d have seen in 1975. However at times the director has an annoying penchant for reducing a who’s who of aged actors (Sarandon, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Richard Jenkins, Sam Elliott, Julie Christie) into mouthpieces for creaky, cranky leftist rants. Even LaBeouf’s shoe-leather wunderkind starts to seem less like a character and more like an opportunity for Redford to rail against the sorry state of the media. David Fear
Weekly box office: Dhs218,118 Weekly admissions: 6,055 Total box office: Dhs218,118 Total admissions: 6,055
5 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: Dhs402,687 Weekly admissions: 8,984 Total box office: Dhs8,018,151 Total admissions: 179,048
4 Fire with Fire Director: David Barrett Stars: Josh Duhamel, Bruce Willis, Rosario Dawson
Fire With Fire arrives in UAE cinemas trailing a strong whiff of failure: despite the presence of one bankable star – Bruce Willis – and a host of recognisable names including Josh Duhamel, Rosario Dawson and Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson, it was ignominiously dumped straight to DVD in the US. So it’s a pleasant surprise to discover that this is far from a disaster, rather a sturdy, unambitious but thoroughly watchable action thriller.
When chiselled fireman Jeremy (Duhamel) witnesses neo-Nazi thug Hagan (Vincent D’Onofrio) carrying out a gangland hit, he agrees to go into witness protection. But when Hagan tracks him down, he has no option but to counterattack. There’s much here that’s lazy and idiotic: Duhamel is a plank, and Willis’s scenes seem to have been shot in an afternoon, Vinnie Jones proves he still hasn’t made it to those acting classes and the script is filled with juicy clunkers. But with D’Onofrio and Dawson bringing the thunder, a plot that never sits still and a handful of genuinely dramatic scenes, Fire With Fire is perfectly serviceable old-fashioned Friday night entertainment. Tom Huddleston
Weekly box office: Dhs347,224 Weekly admissions: 9,654 Total box office: Dhs2,040,950 Total admissions: 50,836
3 Oblivion Director: Joseph Kosinski Stars: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Andrea Riseborough
After a foray into musicals with Rock of Ages and a very public divorce, Tom Cruise is back doing what he does best: big blockbuster action. Oblivion is certainly big. With a budget of more than Dhs700 million, the film follows a veteran soldier who is sent to a distant planet. Once there, he is instructed to destroy the remains of an alien race, but an encounter with an exiled traveller forces him to question his perceptions of the planet and his mission. It will be interesting to see if relatively new director Joseph Kosinski, whose only other credit is Tron Legacy, can transcend the trappings of a CGI sci-fi film. TO
Weekly box office: Dhs632,090 Weekly admissions: 16,378 Total box office: Dhs5,911,356 Total admissions: 142,866
2 A Haunted House Director: Michael Tiddes Stars: Marlon Wayans, Essence Atkins, Marlene Forte
You know a fright-flick craze is in danger of running its course when Marlon Wayans comes along to broadly, belatedly spoof it. Here, the comedian takes on the ‘found-footage’ genre, playing a camera-carrying dude whose bachelor pad is invaded by a flatulent girlfriend (Atkins), an intoxicated ghost and a bunch of unfunny stereotypes. The dated references (a Blair Witch joke?) suggest we’re watching a Scary Movie sequel, but no: that franchise picks up again this year. Which means this exceedingly lazy comedy is just the first of two Paranormal Activity parodies being crammed down our throats this year. AA Dowd
Weekly box office: Dhs939,064 Weekly admissions: 24,432 Total box office: Dhs939,064 Total admissions: 24,432
1 Pain & Gain Director: Michael Bay Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Mark Wahlberg, Rebel Wilson
Michael Bay finally returns to his small-scale indie roots… well, not really, but this is Bay’s first film since his debut Bad Boys that doesn’t feature spaceships, robot smackdowns or anyone trying to destroy the world. It’s the comically-dramatic drawn-from-the-headlines tale of a pair of not-so-bright Miami bodybuilders – played by Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson – who become inadvertently involved in a kidnapping and extortion plot. Ed Harris plays the private detective who cracked the real-life case. If Bay can resist the temptation to blow things up and actually keep the focus on character, this sounds like a lot of fun. But don’t worry, mayhem fans, Bay will be back in his comfort zone with Transformers 4 in 2014. TO
Weekly box office: Dhs3,386,315 Weekly admissions: 81,767 Total box office: Dhs3,386,315 Total admissions: 81,767