What was the most popular film at UAE cinemas this week?
Time Out Dubai staff
10 Sameer Abu Elneel Director: Amr Arafa Stars: Ahamd Meky, Nicol Saba and Alaa Mursy
Arabic comedy, about a manipulative gangster. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs55,690 Weekly admissions: 1,591 Total box office: Dhs1,670,787 Total admissions: 46,814
9 The legend of Sarila Director: Nancy Florence Savard Stars: Christopher Plummer, Rachelle Lefevre, Dustin Milligan, Tim Rozon, Geneviève Bujold, James Kidnie
The first 3D animation feature to be made in Quebec, this Inuit-inspired kids’ flick charts the life-changing adventures of three boys struggling to survive a famine in the north pole. From the pen of Pierre Tremblay, who has lived in the Arctic, it scores highly on its detailed depiction of nomadic life and looks to be solid family fare. Oscar-winning actor Christopher Plummer takes top voice duties in this English language version. TO
Weekly box office: Dhs70,076 Weekly admissions: 1,656 Total box office: Dhs402,650 Total admissions: 8,737
8 The Call Director: Brad Anderson Stars: Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin, Morris Chestnut
Brutishly effective and only modestly vile, Brad Anderson's snuffish thriller pits Halle Berry's 911 operator against a serial-killing psycho riding around with a young woman (Abigail Breslin) in his car trunk.
There's an argument to be had about whether serial-killer movies should ever be easy to watch, but when Anderson starts shoving a fish-eye lens into Breslin's terrified face, it feels less like autocritique and more like an attempt to out-deprave Criminal Minds.
Fair's fair, however: Crude as it is, The Call milks its jump scares and don't-go-down-to-the-basement tension for all they're worth. See it with a full house, if you absolutely must see it at all. Sam Adams
Weekly box office: Dhs74,270 Weekly admissions: 2,098 Total box office: Dhs2,340,453 Total admissions: 64,612
7 The Big Wedding Director: Justin Zackham Stars: Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton and Katherine Heigl
They don't make matrimonial comedies like they used to. Not only are recent titles cleansed of distinguishing terms like Fat and Greek, they can't even wait five screen minutes before showing Robert De Niro torpedoing his bristly goatee at Susan Sarandon. That it takes another ten minutes for Katherine Heigl to projectile vomit seems classily restrained by comparison.
In this dispiritingly typical ensemble Hollywood farce, Don (De Niro) and Bebe (Sarandon) are hosting a wedding celebration for their adopted son Alejandro (Ben Barnes) and his bride-to-be Missy (Amanda Seyfried). Things get wacky when Alejandro doesn't have the heart to tell his visiting ultra-Catholic Colombian birth mother that Don is no longer married to Ellie (Diane Keaton), the woman that raised him, prompting the bickering divorcés to reunite for one wild weekend.
Building on his script for The Bucket List, budding auteur of geriatric lust Justin Zackham panders to his wizened target audience with a film that's shot like a pharmaceutical commercial. De Niro and Keaton gamely summon semblances of characters despite the script's tin-eared potty talk, but can't save the film from amounting to a big nothing. Eric Hynes
Weekly box office: Dhs83,665 Weekly admissions: 2,388 Total box office: Dhs1,742,862 Total admissions: 42,621
6 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: Dhs78,734 Weekly admissions: 2,491 Total box office: Dhs8,670,370 Total admissions: 195,787
5 All Stars Director: Ben Gregor Stars: Ashley Jensen, Akai Osei-Mansfield, Theo Stevenson, Amelia Clarkson, Kimberley Walsh
We’ve had Streetdance (twice). Now meet All Stars, the UK’s latest attempt to ape America’s lucrative tween dance scene (in 3D). Ethan (14-year-old Theo Stevenson), is a cheeky school kid who throws a talent contest to save the local youth club. His own dance crew is an unlikely mix of posh kids and overeaters, trained by Jaden (Akai Osei-Mansfield, the 12-year-old winner of UK show Got to Dance 2010). The young performances are variable, but the saving grace is the grown-up cast, including Ashley Jensen and Mark Heap, who don’t hold back while delivering the cynical one-liners. TV director Ben Gregor brings inventive visual touches to his dream sequences – overambitious, maybe, but welcome in a genre that’s become formulaic to say the least. Yes, there are clichés: the warring dance tribes, the blending of dance genres as if no one’s ever thought of it before. But All Stars is funny enough to entertain kids, if not their elder siblings, who may not buy this scrubbed-up version of teenaged Britain. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs207,174 Weekly admissions: 5,405 Total box office: Dhs207,174 Total admissions: 5,405
4 Star Trek Into Darkness Director: J.J. Abrams Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, Alice Eve, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Leonard Nimoy
Star Trek Into Darkness is a brisk, no-nonsense sci-fi action sequel built around a conflict between the crew of the Starship Enterprise with a slick, slippery new villain John Harrison, who’s played with relish and poise by Benedict Cumberbatch.
Director JJ Abrams – recently anointed the new keeper of the Star Wars flame – revived the Star Trek franchise back in 2009 by taking it back in time (in Trekkie terms, that is; it’s still the future for us), pumping it with wit and style and giving life to younger versions of Captain Kirk, Spock, Scotty and the rest of that space geek’s dream team. Here, the main focus is internal strife, rather than structural revolution, as Kirk and Spock get catty with each other and Harrison emerges as a disgruntled insider bent on initiating spectacles of domestic terrorism. The result is a stop-gap tale that’s modest, fun and briefly amusing, rather than one that breaks new ground or offers hugely memorable set pieces.
The most striking scenes come without doubt at the start as Kirk (Pine) struggles to rescue Spock (Zachary Quinto) from a volcano on a distant planet. We witness a primitive race – carefully colour-coded all white, yellow and red – as they first lay eyes on a spaceship. It’s a powerful moment, and nothing later matches up to it, even if two episodes of city-bashing (first London, then San Francisco) offer their fair share of wide-eyed 3D viewing.
The revived Star Trek films are shaping up to be the opposite of Christopher Nolan’s Batman tales in that they’re light on bleakness and attitude. There are enough gags (Simon Pegg is fun again as Scotty) and wit (the tension between Kirk and Spock is winning) between darker bouts of space fighting and ship-saving to keep the mood airy and unpretentious.
Only Alice Eve, as the Enterprise’s new recruit, threatens to tip the entire affair into recklessness. We sense the filmmakers’ worry that the whole thing might be a bit too boyish. That said, the script manages to introduce some thoughtfulness into proceedings via Spock’s morose musings on death and feelings (or lack of them).
It’s compulsory for blockbuster villains to be British, of course, and Cumberbatch runs with an imperial theatrical haughtiness rather than trying to bury it. His bad guy is distinctly human, if a little two-dimensional, and he succeeds in showing real ice running through his veins and bringing some weight to a cast that generally offers more geniality than gravitas. Dave Calhoun
Weekly box office: Dhs796,980 Weekly admissions: 17,726 Total box office: Dhs3,660,797 Total admissions: 74,102
3 Iron Man 3 Director: Shane Black Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Guy Pearce, Gwyneth Paltrow
Calling Iron Man 3 a mixed bag doesn't really do justice to the heady peaks and interminable troughs. In the minus column, there's the tedious, talky first act, the script's uneasy attempts at psychological realism, and Robert Downey Jr's disastrously smarmy facial furniture. But they're balanced out by a handful of punchy one-liners courtesy of Lethal Weapon scribe Shane Black, and a sprawling cast of reliable supporting players. Towering above them all is Ben Kingsley as one of comic book cinema's most astonishing and unlikely supervillains.
Despite his unimpeachable screenwriting CV, this is only Black's second film as a director and it shows. When he's in his element Black delivers the goods in style, but he seems out of his depth during the larger set pieces: the action sequences are busy and confusing, especially the misjudged, threat-free climax.
The result is a film which never settles into a comfortable groove. It tries to be an angsty Dark Knight-style game changer, an '80's-throwback action romp, a nudge-wink pastiche and a CG-fuelled spectacular. It's undeniably entertaining with the misfires never fully overshadowing the moments of glory. But Iron Man 3 still feels like something of a disappointment. Tom Huddleston
Weekly box office: Dhs822,340 Weekly admissions: 19,775 Total box office: Dhs20,204,348 Total admissions: 437,858
2 The Great Gatsby Director: Baz Luhrmann Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Edgerton, Tobey Maguire, Amitabh Bachchan, Steve Bisley, Richard Carter, Jason Clarke, Adelaide Clemens
The purists have had their knives sharpened for months, and now that Baz Luhrmann’s 3D adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald’s canonical novel is finally here, the dissection and disembowelment can begin. This bombastic super-production is certainly its own strange beast: bluntly effective as melodrama, vividly colourful in its stereoscopic grandeur, never a dull moment - you just have to accept that the themes undergirding Fitzgerald’s precise prose (the bracing critiques of wilfully blind idealism and Jazz Age excess) have been squashed by overproduced spectacle. That’s a bit of a backbreaking proviso.
A seductive skin remains: Embittered narrator Nick Carraway (Maguire), self-made romantic Jay Gatsby (DiCaprio) and flighty flapper Daisy Buchanan (Mulligan) move with great ease through the story’s tragic-romantic beats. Yet while the book’s metaphorical signposts all appear, and Fitzgerald’s text is often spoken verbatim, there’s something crucial missing. You can trace it to Luhrmann’s overblown aesthetic: The anachronistic pop-music cues, digitally augmented tracking shots and disco globe glittery production design don’t recreate the headiness of early 20th century New York so much as invent a billowy fantasy otherworld in the gauzy vein of Twilight. Shorn of its American roots, a biting tale of adult extravagance becomes insubstantially tween-aged. Keith Uhlich
Weekly box office: Dhs1,087,810 Weekly admissions: 22,477 Total box office: Dhs3,561,019 Total admissions: 72,265
1 Fast & Furious 6 Director: Justin Lin Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Luke Evans, Elsa Pataky, Gina Carano, Sung Kang
Episode six in this overcooked cars ’n’ girls franchise offers no surprises, although British expats might feel a frisson of excitement when watching their capital city being trashed, for a change, raced around in by V8 saloons and souped-up Mad Max-style single seaters. It opens with brawny diplomatic security service agent Luke Hobbs (Johnson) handing Vin Diesel’s retired con Dom Toretto a dossier. The folder relates to a ruthlessly efficient gang of military equipment hijackers fronted by an ex-SAS operative-turned-bad-guy-felon (Luke Evans) and also to Dom’s former lover, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), now presumed dead. Before long, we’re on the streets of a grimy, dimly lit London for another fusillade of mind-numbing automobile bedlam, all of it staged with the usual risible disregard for any of the laws of physics.
With its puerile dialogue, daft performances, flat comic repartee and ear-rupturing loud sound levels, the experience of watching Fast & Furious 6 is like listening to death metal pour out of 500-watt speakers while being strapped to a pneumatic drill. Apart from Diesel’s likeably mild-mannered persona, there’s little here that we haven’t seen before. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs13,800,599 Weekly admissions: 358,339 Total box office: Dhs13,800,599 Total admissions: 358,339