What were the most popular movies in UAE cinmas last week?
Time Out Dubai staff
10 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: Dhs202,063 Weekly admissions: 5,738 Total box office: Dhs7,513,347 Total admissions: 187,955
9 The Baytown Outlaws Director: Barry Battles Stars: Clayne Crawford, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Billy Bob Thornton, Travis Fimmel, Daniel Cudmore, Eva Longoria, Andre Braugher, Michael Rapaport
It’s unclear what drew the likes of Billy Bob Thornton, Eva Longoria and Andre Braugher to this tepid grindhouse retread, but at least they liven up the proceedings whenever they’re onscreen. Unfortunately, that’s not all that often. The main characters are the Oodie brothers: a trio of rednecks hired to kidnap the godson of a criminal bigwig. After they snatch the kid, the Oodies are pursued throughout the South by a series of gangs, including a bunch of ladies of the night who moonlight as biker hit-women (or is it the other way round?).
The Baytown Outlaws positions itself as a throwback to old-school exploitation, and with its sexist, homophobic language and frequent spurts of bloody ultraviolence, the result is certainly not far off. But the Oodies are a bit too heavy on quirks and far too light on charisma to make compelling heroes. (Note to screenwriters: Naming a character ‘McQueen’ creates all kinds of unrealistic expectations and unflattering comparisons.) Director Barry Battles should have ditched the formulaic thugs-with-hearts-of-gold arc and just made an entire movie about Thornton’s deliciously sleazy, profane and amoral underworld kingpin. Matt Singer
Weekly box office: Dhs215,480 Weekly admissions: 6,226 Total box office: Dhs215,480 Total admissions: 6,226
8 After Earth Director: M. Night Shyamalan Stars: Jaden Smith, Will Smith, Sophie Okonedo, Zoë Kravitz, Glenn Morshower, Kristofer Hivju, Sacha Dhawan, Chris Geere
How the mighty have fallen. We’re not just speaking of warrior-class father-son team Cypher and Kitai Raige (Will and Jaden Smith), the last survivors of a spaceship crash on a devastated, human-abandoned future Earth. We’re also talking about director M Night Shyamalan, whose name has been all but scrubbed from the marketing for this competent, occasionally stirring science-fiction adventure.
Fortunately, the very real lows of The Last Airbender (2010), the Sixth Sense director’s most previous foray into YA-fantasy territory, are relegated to a hilariously nonsensical opening voiceover. Instead, After Earth is primarily a fleet, focused two-hander that sidelines Smith père in a voice-of-God role, while Smith fils runs, jumps and flies. What undoes the film is its rather rancid parent-child sentimentality and a charisma-free performance from the younger Smith that suggests the apple has fallen very far from the tree. Keith Uhlich
Weekly box office: Dhs337,659 Weekly admissions: 9,275 Total box office: Dhs5,316,027 Total admissions: 133,982
7 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: Dhs366,661 Weekly admissions: 10,131 Total box office: Dhs20,908,712 Total admissions: 543,585
Arabic comedy film directed by Sameh Abd Elazeez. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs368,940 Weekly admissions: 10,503 Total box office: Dhs4,748,523 Total admissions: 132,411
5 The Internship Director: Shawn Levy Stars: Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Rose Byrne, Aasif Mandvi, Max Minghella, Josh Brener, Dylan O'Brien, Tiya Sircar
Thanks to his unvaryingly untucked insouciance, Vince Vaughn appears to be slouching toward mass ignominy. But in truth he’s been hustling of late, having taken up screenwriting and penned three recent snark-coms, including this dispiriting reteam with fellow Wedding Crasher Owen Wilson. Vaughn’s Billy is a smooth-talking salesman who, alongside his chummy partner Nick, finds himself professionally obsolete. The tech-illiterate duo charm their way into age-inappropriate internships at Google, where they show nerds how to party and become patron saints of second chances.
The Internship is all too eager to affirm the go-bro status quo. Nothing surprises here, save standout Rose Byrne. Supersizing product placement to the level of full-on corporate sponsorship, director Shawn Levy envisions the Internet giant’s Bay Area compound as an amusement park of gleaming surfaces and unlimited refills. Alas, such kowtowing is indicative of a movie sorely bereft of ideas, laughs and justification for the comic duo’s undifferentiating self-regard. Eric Hynes
Weekly box office: Dhs611,417 Weekly admissions: 15,095 Total box office: Dhs1,983,800 Total admissions: 49,928
4 Now You See Me Director: Louis Leterrier Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Mélanie Laurent, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine
Movies about magic rarely work – a good trick requires the gasp of a live audience – and the unsubtle hands behind this abracadabra heist film aren’t the ones to prove otherwise. Right from the get-go, we doubt the skills (heavily buttressed by CGI) of our heroic quartet: Daniel (Eisenberg) seduces with card tricks; wild-eyed Merritt (Woody Harrelson) can hypnotise strangers at a touch; Henley (Isla Fisher) mysteriously escapes a glass box swarming with piranhas; and Jack (Dave Franco, James’ clonelike younger brother) boosts wallets on the ferry. Drawn together by a mysterious invitation, they become the Four Horsemen, raining millions of dollar bills on thrilled Vegas crowds and perhaps committing crimes in the process.
Nothing about their antics is remotely believable or, worse, charming in the slightest; the camera leaps across the stage, slinging our eyeballs around as the lights swivel. It’s not like we’ve ever turned to Louis Leterrier (the French hack-for-hire behind 2010’s Clash of the Titans) for psychological realism. But shouldn’t someone have warned him that his hyperventilating technique might kill the mood? When Mark Ruffalo shows up as a crumpled detective, you expect a dose of reality, yet on his heels come twin hams Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, whose solemn presences (as Christopher Nolan knows well) prove wonderful distractions from silliness. Joshua Rothkopf
Weekly box office: Dhs1,176,517 Weekly admissions: 32,890 Total box office: Dhs6,622,576 Total admissions: 175,887
3 Man of Steel Director: Zack Snyder Stars: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Russell Crowe, Antje Traue, Harry Lennix, Richard Schiff
It’s a cliché followed by a yawn when the makers of comic-book movies boast about how ‘real’ and ‘psychological’ their stories are. Yes, we know, Spider-Man and Batman were just troubled sons with daddy issues. But it’s harder to make those claims for a Superman tale, even when the producer is Batman regenerator Christopher Nolan – a man with more backstories than an osteopath. Just how ‘real’ can the story of a genetically-modified baby launched to Earth from a planet called Krypton ever feel?
And so it’s no surprise that Man of Steel feels both modern and traditional – a halfway house between the broodier Nolan way of shaking things up and the louder, bone-crunching style that director Zack Snyder established with films such as 300 and Sucker Punch. Man of Steel is punchy, engaging and fun, even if it slips into a final 45 minutes of explosions and fights during which reason starts to vanish and the science gets muddy.
It opens with a lengthy preamble explaining how Jor-El (Russell Crowe) launched his son Kal to Earth just as his planet was falling apart, and how failed coup leader General Zod (Michael Shannon, a muted villain) was banished at the same time. It’s here, and at the end, that Snyder is at his most baroque: first, he indulges the weird science of Krypton, and later he enjoys giving America a vicious pounding when Zod tracks down Superman.
It’s in the middle section, post-Krypton, pre-showdown, that the film hits its stride. Clark Kent (Henry Cavill, a good choice for Superman: solid, sturdy, fairly anonymous) is a twenty-something wanderer uneasy with his powers. Rather than leading us through his whole life so far, Snyder tells the tale of Kent reconnecting with his past, finding the super-suit (unshiny, like the movie) and testing his powers, while often flashing back to his childhood. Soon, journalist Lois Lane (Amy Adams) knows what’s up. Adams’s character is different to the Margot Kidder version: she’s a tough-cookie investigator and not the sort to be hoodwinked by a pair of thick-rimmed glasses and a comb-over.
Mostly, this Superman is more action than angst. But those daddy issues are still in play. Crowe – never an actor to show his ticklish side – plays Jor-El like he’s Hamlet’s father. Kevin Costner is Superman’s Earth dad in pastoral scenes full of cornfields, clothes on the line and snapshots of an easier time which look like they were conceived soon after a screening of Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life.
At times, you wish for a quick dash into a phone box and a cat that needs rescuing from a tree. Snyder is no party pooper, though. He might not resurrect Superman’s old theme tune, nor does he allow the word ‘Superman’ to be spoken (it’s all Clark and Kal). But by the end, he’s teased in some of the more amusing elements of the old story we thought were missing, leaving the way open for a sequel that will surely be more Earthbound. Dave Calhoun
Weekly box office: Dhs3,398,337 Weekly admissions: 75,577 Total box office: Dhs12,663,845 Total admissions: 274,808
2 Monsters University Director: Dan Scanlon Stars: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Peter Sohn, Joel Murray, Sean Hayes, Dave Foley
More than a decade after Monsters, Inc. comes this prequel detailing the university days of Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) – a time when they weren’t quite so chummy. Eventually Mike’s fierce rivalry with natural-born scarer Sulley gets them both kicked out of Monster University’s elite Scare Program. Steve Buscemi will reprise his role as Randall Boggs while new voice cast members include Dave Foley, Julia Sweeney, Joel Murray and Peter Sohn. Also coming back for more is Jennifer Tilly as Celia. Dan Scanlon (Tracy) directs. Time Out Dubai staff
Weekly box office: Dhs4,645,106 Weekly admissions: 110,261 Total box office: Dhs4,645,106 Total admissions: 110,261
1 World War Z Director: Marc Forster Stars: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, Daniella Kertesz, Ludi Boeken, Matthew Fox, Fana Mokoena, David Morse
So here it is: Brad Pitt vs zombies. The traditionally low-budget zombie genre has been treated to a blowout Dhs700 million blockbuster makeover. The result looks less like a horror flick and more like a thinking man’s action-thriller. The film is adapted from Max Brooks’s novel, and Pitt stars as a UN investigator on a global mission to find patient zero in a zombie epidemic. That eye-popping budget buys some mindblowing scenes. The best are skin-crawlingly nightmarish shots of a swarm of zombies over-running a city like truckloads of ants in a garden. But that kind of cash should have stretched to a third act, set in a laboratory in Wales, that doesn’t look like a cheap TV drama.
It begins with some sharp thrills and jolts. Director Marc Foster (Quantum of Solace) doesn’t hang about. One minute Pitt (who’s just quit the UN to be the hottest dad on the school run) is driving the family into the city. Then bam. The first wave of zombies hits. These scenes inspire a cold sweat. Obviously science leans against the likelihood of a zombie epidemic wiping out a chunk of humanity – but, watching the anarchy here, you can well believe that if something bad does happen, we’ll retreat to the Dark Ages in 15 minutes.
There are shades of real-world thrillers such as Contagion or Children of Men as Pitt is recalled to the UN and packed off with a viral expert to find the source of the outbreak. First stop is South Korea, where we get a sense of how governments are responding. North Korea has the genius idea of pulling out people’s teeth (think about it). One nation took the threat seriously early on and put itself into quarantine. Pitt suspects they might be to blame, but the truth is subtler. All this unfolds between explosions and the splatting of undead brains. Wearing an Arab scarf, Pitt is convincing as a veteran of conflicts in Liberia and the Balkans, half bleeding heart liberal, half tough guy.
What’s missing is a sense of loss. The horror and grief that should be etched on the faces of the living. As for that third act, you’ll be breaking into Shaun of the Dead giggles at the sight of middle-aged men in labcoats chasing Brad Pitt around the set of a hospital drama. Cath Clarke
Weekly box office: Dhs6,935,279 Weekly admissions: 159,629 Total box office: Dhs6,935,279 Total admissions: 159,629