The best performing films ath UAE box offices this week
Time Out staff
10 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: Dhs139,956 Weekly admissions: 2,606 Total box office: Dhs15,695,614 Total admissions: 339,167
9 Arthur Newman Director: Dante Ariola Stars: Emily Blunt, Anne Heche, Colin Firth, Kristin Lehman, Sterling Beaumon, David Andrews, Autumn Dial, Peter Jurasik
There is no Arthur Newman – that’s a false identity claimed by Wallace Avery (Firth), a Florida golf burnout fleeing the wreckage of his failed marriage and tanked dreams. But you’ll soon wish the film were about someone a bit more exciting, and in fact, that person does turn up in the luminous form of Emily Blunt as Mike – or maybe it’s Charlotte – another life-swapper who recognises a kindred spirit in the Dockers-clad mystery man. Pinned uncomfortably to each other’s secrets, they hit the road in a Mercedes convertible, where they develop a game of mutual pretending, breaking into homes and playacting like a real couple.
None of this is remotely believable: not Firth’s hard-on-the-‘r’ American accent, nor the shoddy way in which he fakes his death or successfully lures such a gorgeous free spirit to his motel room’s double twin. But the actors give it their all, and when the screenplay gets around to exploring the desperation that might fuel a total do-over, Arthur Newman wanders into oases of deep feeling. Lamely, the plot gets a case of cold feet, looping back to half-written family members left in the dust. But when it’s being wild, the drama has nearly enough character to pass for distinct. Joshua Rothkopf
Weekly box office: Dhs125,687 Weekly admissions: 2,895 Total box office: Dhs125,687 Total admissions: 2,895
8 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: Dhs210,570 Weekly admissions: 4,848 Total box office: Dhs10,457,147 Total admissions: 252,634
7 The Heat Director: Katie Dippold Stars: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Demián Bichir, Marlon Wayans, Michael Rapaport, Jane Curtin, Spoken Reasons, Dan Bakkedahl
There are high hopes for this cop comedy, which reunites two key elements from the Bridesmaids dream team: director Paul Feig and actress Melissa McCarthy. She is officially Hollywood’s new favourite funny lady after bagging an Oscar nomination for her hilarious turn in that movie. Here she’s a tough, profanity-spewing, scenery-chewing FBI agent. Sandra Bullock plays an officer so uptight that her minions mutiny. So yes, you guessed it, they get buddied up to take down a crime baron. The plot might sound as old as the hills, but the trailer is promising, with McCarthy freestyling her brand of hyper-weirdness and the Missy Ellliott remix of M.I.A.’s Bad Girls on the soundtrack. The studio behind the film, Fox, is clearly impressed: they’ve snapped up Feig to produce and direct his own comedy movies, in a deal not a million miles away from former collaborator Judd Apatow’s arrangement with Universal. Time Out Dubai staff
Weekly box office: Dhs223,184 Weekly admissions: 4,876 Total box office: Dhs3,772,900 Total admissions: 90,781
6 In Their Skin Director: Jeremy Power Regimbal Stars: Selma Blair, Joshua Close, James D'Arcy
The Hughes’ vacation is interrupted by a family who want to violently murder them and steal their identities as part of their quest for the perfect life, in this tense and disturbing indie horror flick. TO
Weekly box office: Dhs177,210 Weekly admissions: 5,039 Total box office: Dhs177,210 Total admissions: 5,039
5 Texas Killing Fields Director: Ami Canaan Mann Stars: Sam Worthington, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jessica Chastain, Chloë Grace Moretz, Jason Clarke, Annabeth Gish, Sheryl Lee
Texas Killing Fields was directed by the daughter of Michael Mann, but let’s not make too much of that. Beyond an affinity for the crisscrossing fates of cops and crooks there’s little in this torn-from-the-case-files policier that suggests a common lineage with the maker of Manhunter.
Inspired by real events, the film concerns a rash of Texan serial murders. Sporting a shaky regional dialect, Sam Worthington plays the investigating officer, who indulges too much and talks to his dog. His partner (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), an NYC transplant with a troubled past, wants to go rooting around in the probable crime scene – the eponymous, mysterious marshlands – but it’s out of their jurisdiction.
On the one hand, the true-crime pedigree dictates that Mann sticks closely to what actually transpired, even when said events don’t best suit their dramatic interests. On the other hand, the film is so pockmarked with cliché, so in love with the moth-eaten characterisations of cop movies, that it’s hard to take seriously as a at times. Mann manages to slip in a few striking sequences and invest the margins of the film with local colour. Maybe the apple didn’t fall so far from the tree after all. AA Dowd
Weekly box office: Dhs192,266 Weekly admissions: 5,321 Total box office: Dhs192,266 Total admissions: 5,321
4 White House Down Director: Roland Emmerich Stars: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, Richard Jenkins, Joey King, James Woods
We’re expecting this back-to basics action caper to mark a return to form for director Roland Emmerich. A man who has previously threatened to annihilate mankind in Independence Day, Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow and 2012, this time it’s just the fate of the USA which is at stake. In a delightfully dumbed-down, one-man-against-the-world premise which takes its cues from the Die Hard franchise, beat cop John Cale (a beefed-up Channing Tatum) has just been denied his dream job with the Secret Service of protecting President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx). Not wanting to let down his little girl with the news, he takes her on a tour of the White House, when the complex is overtaken by a heavily armed paramilitary group. So, with the nation’s government falling into chaos and time running out, it’s up to Cale to save the president, his daughter and the country. Cue dramatic music. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs235,504 Weekly admissions: 5,507 Total box office: Dhs7,993,794 Total admissions: 194,075
3 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: Dhs213,119 Weekly admissions: 5,887 Total box office: Dhs8,201,053 Total admissions: 219,743
2 Jackie Chan: Shaolin Director: Benny Chan Stars: Shaoqun Yu, Chen Zhiui, Yu Xing, Jacky Wu, Nicholas Tse, Hai Yu, Andy Lau, Bingbing Fan
There’s nothing at all appealing (at first) about Andy Lau’s maniacal military man in Benny Chan’s diverting yet lightweight martial-arts epic. Lau’s General Hou Jie is one mean proposition: brazenly riding into Dengfeng, China’s famed monastery-cum-combat-training-school to kill an enemy warlord, dressing down his second-in-command, Cao Man (Tse) and plotting the death of a military rival so his power will be unchallenged. But the general’s spittle-flecked dreams of domination are dashed when Cao Man stages a bloody coup.
Having lost everything, the humbled Hou returns to the monastery, where he makes like post-Ike Tina Turner and devotes himself to Buddhism. It’s an unconvincing character turn – visualised via a number of what-have-I-done-with-my-life close-ups and some pensive wax-on-wax-off training montages. But then comes the good stuff: a series of spectacularly filmed action sequences that pit our newly enlightened protagonist and his bamboo-wielding brethren against Cao Man and his destructive forces. Fists fly furiously and much blood is spilled; there’s a sacrifice via sword that’s both cringe-inducing and cheer worthy. Even special guest star Jackie Chan gets in on the fun with a hilarious bit of food-jitsu. It’s almost enough to make you forget that this entertainingly hollow film is populated entirely with toy soldiers. Keith Uhlich
Weekly box office: Dhs225,483 Weekly admissions: 6,190 Total box office: Dhs750,596 Total admissions: 20,064
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: Dhs354,308 Weekly admissions: 7,361 Total box office: Dhs13,333,176 Total admissions: 302,943