Johnny Depp's much-derided flop fails to make the UAE box office top three on opening week
Time Out Dubai staff
5 Pacific Rim Director: Guillermo del Toro Stars: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Diego Klattenhoff, Burn Gorman, Max Martini, Robert Kazinsky, Clifton Collins Jr.
To be fair, ‘Pacific Rim’ never promised to be anything more than a monumental robot-monster smackdown. Throughout the promotion we’ve barely seen a human face, aside from a brief flash in the trailer of Idris Elba bellowing about the apocalypse. So to turn around and accuse ‘Pacific Rim’ of being inhuman does feel a little churlish.
But it’s simply impossible to overlook. As the film opens we’re introduced to skyscraper-sized automaton Gipsy Danger and her pilot Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam), as they battle against the ongoing threat from the ‘kaiju’, monsters from another dimension who slip through a portal in the ocean. Raleigh is the tough, silent type, constantly battling his boss, the gloriously named Stacker Pentecost (Elba) – also the tough, silent type. As is his protegé, Mako (Rinko Kikuchi). And his trusted Aussie sidekick (Max Martini). Indeed, the only characters who aren’t tough and silent are a pair of irritating mismatched science geeks, one apparently channelling Dr Strangelove (Burn Gorman), the other JJ Abrams (Charlie Day).
The action set-pieces are superb: thunderous, rain-soaked, and beautifully detailed – you can almost feel the rust and the slime. They’re also a tad repetitive. But if Del Toro is pitching for an audience of 12-year-old boys (and we do mean boys: this is old-school macho), he’s done a bang-up job.
Still, there are times when ‘Pacific Rim’ could be the work of any jobbing Hollywood director – the warmth and idiosyncracy that characterises Del Toro’s finest work is absent. ‘The Avengers’ proved that a slightly left-of-centre director like Joss Whedon could find a home in the heart of Hollywood without losing the personal touch. With ‘Pacific Rim’, Del Toro doesn’t even seem to be trying. Tom Huddleston
Weekly box office: Dhs3,329,524 Weekly admissions: 70,487 Total box office: Dhs3,329,524 Total admissions: 70,487
4 The Lone Ranger Director: Gore Verbinski Stars: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Ruth Wilson, Helena Bonham Carter, James Badge Dale, Bryant Prince
Making a western is trickier than it looks. Treat the genre with respect – as John Ford, Sam Peckinpah and even Quentin Tarantino found – and the Wild West can be one of cinema’s most unpredictable and exciting landscapes. But take it lightly and all you’re left with is a bunch of silly hats, sweaty horses and tired old matinee clichés. For the majority of its totally unnecessary 149-minute running time, The Lone Ranger is a prime example of how not to go West: it’s predictable, derivative and at times quite spectacularly boring.
Johnny Depp plays Tonto, now an old man reminiscing about his days with the titular lawman, played by six-foot personality vacuum, Armie Hammer. Tonto rescues the Ranger from certain death at the hands of potentially supernatural villain Butch Cavendish (an under-used William Fichtner), and together they ride for revenge.
The Lone Ranger is by no means a total disaster. Depp’s Tonto may sail close to racial caricature, but his performance is enjoyably robust and deadpan. More notably, the film is bookended by a pair of absolutely crackling runaway train action sequences, arguably director Gore Verbinski’s best since Mousehunt.
But it’s nowhere near enough to sustain us through the slow patches. With no trace of the freshness and wit Verbinski and Depp brought to the swashbuckler in the original Pirates of the Caribbean film, sadly The Lone Ranger is content to pull another western trope out of the bag – the ranch raid, the cavalry charge – give it a CGI spit-and-polish and chuck it in the general direction of the audience. The result is frustrating, lazy and lifeless. Tom Huddleston
Weekly box office: Dhs3,005,714 Weekly admissions: 75,152 Total box office: Dhs3,005,714 Total admissions: 75,152
3 Red 2 Director: Dean Parisot Stars: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Mary-Louise Parker, Anthony Hopkins, Byung-hun Lee, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Neal McDonough
The retired, extremely dangerous gang are back for another trigger-happy comedy. Former CIA agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is happy with the quiet life, but his girlfriend Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) is bored. When it comes to Frank and Sarah, the attraction is action, suggests their buddy, Marvin (John Malkovich). So the trio embark on a mission to keep a next-generation weapon out of terrorist hands. This takes them to Paris (enter Catherine Zeta-Jones), London (hello Helen Mirren) and Moscow. It should be a zippy ride, but stale dialogue and a bored-looking Willis slow things down. Parker, Malkovich and Mirren wring a few laughs out of the script before scene-stealer Anthony Hopkins brightens the mood as a retired physicist who may or may not be insane.
Ultimately, it’s popcorn nihilism without the big laughs that helped distract from the casual approach to life and death in Red. To quote Austin Powers: ‘People never think how things affect the family of a henchman’. Now that was funny. Anna Smith
Weekly box office: Dhs3,458,015 Weekly admissions: 88,543 Total box office: Dhs3,458,015 Total admissions: 88,543
2 The Smurfs 2 Director: Raja Gosnell Stars: Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays
The first big-screen Smurfs movie was a harmless Saturday-morning romp that earnestly catered to the youngest crowds. For the sequel, director Raja Gosnell sticks to the formula: Smurfette (voiced by Katy Perry) is again kidnapped by the Great Gargamel (Hank Azaria), this time taken to Paris, where the sorcerer has become a world-renowned magician.
Lost in the jump across the Atlantic is the original’s New York charm: The rest of the Smurfs venture off to save their blond sister; married couple Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris) and Grace (Jayma Mays) tag along for human support; and Gosnell finds a surprising balance between the wacky and the heartfelt.
The Smurfs 2 is lively but routine. Gargamel’s pair of artificial underlings, who take Smurfette under their wings for airborne joyrides through the towers of Notre Dame. Gosnell treats it like a Smurfified version of Avatar, but the antics wear thin. Matt Patches
Weekly box office: Dhs5,266,232 Weekly admissions: 119,934 Total box office: Dhs5,266,232 Total admissions: 119,934
1 Despicable Me 2 Director: Pierre Louis Padang Coffin, Chris Renaud Stars: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt
Children learn through repetition, something that Hollywood’s animation studios are taking to heart this year. With sequels to Monsters, Inc and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs also on the way, the multiplex is a veritable Sesame Street of cuddly familiarity. Quite what kids stand to learn from this loud, broad and disjointedly amusing follow-up to the 2010 surprise hit is open to question. But its repetitive qualities are beyond reproach. Every bit as amiable and disposable as its predecessor, it recycles everything from slapstick gags to its own voice cast (Kristen Wiig pops up again, but as an entirely different character).
The first film ended with Steve Carell’s reformed Russian super villain Gru settling down with his sickly-sweet trio of adopted daughters. Here, he’s still trying to go straight, with an unpromising business making jellies and jams in the pipeline. The MI6-style Anti-Villain League, however, has other plans. Enter goofy secret agent Lucy (Wiig) to whisk Gru into a madcap scheme to take down an unidentified despot with dastardly designs on Gru’s cute, cackling horde of canary-yellow minions. Right down to the closing-credits ‘audition’ for their upcoming spin-off feature, the frantic antics of these critters are scarcely disguised as the film’s raison d’être. The human activity, including Gru and Lucy’s appealing but half-baked romance, is strictly to get us from A to, well, A. Youngsters won’t mind. Their parents will be as charmed or annoyed – or, maybe, both – as they were the first time. Guy Lodge
Weekly box office: Dhs5,688,510 Weekly admissions: 133,382 Total box office: Dhs5,688,510 Total admissions: 133,382