What were the country's most successful films last week?
Time Out Dubai staff
10 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: Dhs22,720 Weekly admissions: 747 Total box office: Dhs8,693,090 Total admissions: 196,534
9 Abducted Director: R.D. Braunstein Stars: Lauren Holly, Kaylee DeFer, Joe Lando, Christopher Wolfe, Massi Furlan, Rayne Bidder, Lauren Reeder, Lony'e Perrine
What’s lamer than a cheapie made-for-TV drama gaining a full cinematic release in the UAE? How about a cheapie made-for-TV drama that’s been renamed, repackaged as a horror flick, and promoted with a shot of a scantily clad woman in a cage?
Abducted is just that – originally screened on US TV as Layover, it was later released on DVD as Abducted, with a fresh snap of cast member Tara Erica Moore which reportedly has no resemblance to the movie’s plot. Instead of being aimed at adolescent males, the film originally set out to court the paranoid female contingent, with a girl power-come-mystery plot about a pampered hotel executive who ends up wrapped up in a seedy gangland kidnapping. In one respect the rebranding has already worked – it’s almost impossible to find any trace of Abducted online, avoiding the potential stench of bad reviews left from its original release. While the original product may be stronger than the new packaging it’s been found in, there’s a distinct sense of desperation about the whole thing. Rob Garratt
Weekly box office: Dhs110,790 Weekly admissions: 3,169 Total box office: Dhs110,790 Total admissions: 3,169
8 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: Dhs197,065 Weekly admissions: 5,258 Total box office: Dhs3,857,862 Total admissions: 79,360
7 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: Dhs331,573 Weekly admissions: 8,130 Total box office: Dhs20,535,921 Total admissions: 445,988
6 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: Dhs557,866 Weekly admissions: 10,995 Total box office: Dhs4,118,885 Total admissions: 83,260
5 Epic Director: Chris Wedge Stars: Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Beyoncé Knowles, Blake Anderson, Aziz Ansari, Allison Bills, Jim Conroy, John DiMaggio
An eccentric scientist (Jason Sudeikis, miscast) takes in his estranged teenage daughter (Amanda Seyfried), who comes to stay with him after the death of her mother. She’s convinced her old man’s theories about a race of tiny humanoid creatures that inhabit the nearby forest are proof of his departure from reality. Then a freak accident propels her into the world that dear old Dad described, where a once-in-a-century battle rages. Bring on the colourful-yet-kid-friendly carnage and celebrity voices: Josh Hutcherson, Chris O’Dowd, Aziz Ansari, Beyoncé Knowles and even Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler.
Like its nondescript title, Epic is so generic it might as well come in a black-and-white box: Animated Adventure Designed to Sell Toys. Despite obvious parallels between micro- and macro-storylines, director Chris Wedge (Ice Age) cuts awkwardly between the two worlds, derailing whatever piddling momentum the movie manages to accumulate. Though technology has made massive leaps in the 15 years since A Bug’s Life, this tiny-creature ’toon can’t muster anything like the Pixar classic’s sense of wonder. Wonder requires a point of view – and Epic has none. Sam Adams
Weekly box office: Dhs1,984,795 Weekly admissions: 45,160 Total box office: Dhs1,984,795 Total admissions: 45,160
4 Hummingbird Director: Steven Knight Stars: Jason Statham, Lee Asquith-Coe, Vicky McClure, Ian Pirie, Benedict Wong, Senem Temiz, Siobhan Hewlett, Paul Blackwell
Cinema hardman Jason Statham takes a career left-turn in this role as an avid ornithologist on the hunt for a rare species of hummingbird… Oh, who are we kidding? In his third movie of 2013 Statham is, once again, lumbering around and knocking off bad guys who should know what’s coming to them by now. This time he plays an ex-SAS solider who’s fallen homeless, but following a brutal beating decides it’s time to ‘get his life back together’. Rather than taking a job in the local bakery, this means joining a Chinese gang and getting all fighty while wearing a suit, something Statham has had some practice at. Released in other territories as Redemption, there’s a ray of hope surrounding the project; making his directional debut is Steven Wright, the scriptwriter behind David Cronenberg’s enjoyable 2007 London-set mystery thriller Eastern Promises. Let’s hope Wright was able to inject some spark into this one. Rob Garratt
Weekly box office: Dhs1,724,538 Weekly admissions: 46,002 Total box office: Dhs1,724,538 Total admissions: 46,002
Arabic comedy film directed by Sameh Abd Elazeez. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs2,416,510 Weekly admissions: 68,203 Total box office: Dhs2,416,510 Total admissions: 68,203
2 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: Dhs4,095,382 Weekly admissions: 104,056 Total box office: Dhs17,895,980 Total admissions: 462,395
1 The Hangover Part III Director: Todd Phillips Stars: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, John Goodman, Melissa McCarthy, Jeffrey Tambor
A surprise blockbuster hit, the original Hangover took a bro-tastic scenario then mined it for gross-out comic gold. Success breeds sequels, or in the case of The Hangover II, the exact same movie reset in Bangkok. This third – and we can only hope last – entry finds our unholy trinity returning to the original scene of the crime, Vegas. Wolf Packers Phil (Cooper), Stu (Helms) and Alan (Galifianakis) are on the road again when they’re kidnapped by John Goodman’s mob boss; it seems Mr Chow (Ken Jeong) has stolen some gold bricks, and only the trio can find him.
You’d think that a Vegas reprise might channel some of the first film’s gonzo energy, but other than an early giggle-inducing shocker (two words: giraffe decapitation), Part III has curiously little interest in being even remotely funny. Instead, director Todd Phillips inexplicably aims at making a standard action movie, complete with car chases and break-ins that compound the sense of creative bankruptcy. Galifianakis’s clueless manchild act feels pitifully DOA, while Cooper and Helms, having realised they could play their roles in their sleep, proceed to do just that. It’s only in an end-credits coda that the envelope-pushing of the series is displayed. After a 100-minute wait, it’s too little too late. David Fear
Weekly box office: Dhs5,178,868 Weekly admissions: 126,934 Total box office: Dhs5,178,868 Total admissions: 126,934