10 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: Dhs249,750 Weekly admissions: 6,452 Total box office: Dhs4,292,782 Total admissions: 108,365
9 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: Dhs342,976 Weekly admissions: 9,671 Total box office: Dhs5,333,071 Total admissions: 136,728
8 Jobs Director: Joshua Michael Stern Stars: Ashton Kutcher, Dermot Mulroney, Josh Gad, Lukas Haas, Matthew Modine, J.K. Simmons, Lesley Ann Warren, Ron Eldard
It’s a big hurdle to get over: Ashton Kutcher is playing Steve Jobs. This is not a typo. The dude from Dude, Where’s My Car? (2000) is portraying the tech wizard who transformed personal computers and thus, our modern world. Wisely, director Joshua Michael Stern kicks off this look at the man’s life at the 2001 Apple Town Hall Meeting in which Jobs introduced the iPod. Our first glimpse of Kutcher as the older, more seasoned, gray-bearded icon doesn’t just confirm that he can ape the appearance and the loping gait of Jobs 2.0; the actor nails the look in the man’s eyes, a penetrating glance that suggests he’s simultaneously chasing rainbows and sizing up weaknesses. It’s an inspired move. What you get is a mini recap of a pioneer’s life – a biopic shuffle. David Fear
Weekly box office: Dhs734,820 Weekly admissions: 18,228 Total box office: Dhs734,820 Total admissions: 18,228
7 The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones Director: Harald Zwart Stars: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Jemima West
Hollywood takes another stab at the lucrative teen sci-fi/fantasy market with this adaptation of the first in Cassandra Clare’s popular series of books about a girl who must battle demons in modern day New York. That colon in the title definitely implies that a franchise is in the offing, and since there are four more books, that seems a safe bet. Model-turned-actress Lily Collins takes the lead role of Clary Fray, and if the rest of the cast is hardly populated with familiar faces, remember that nobody knew who Robert Pattinson and Kristin Stewart were until a few years ago. Improbably named director Harald Zwart is the mind behind Agent Cody Banks and the recent Karate Kid remake. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs818,464 Weekly admissions: 22,649 Total box office: Dhs818,464 Total admissions: 22,649
6 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: Dhs1,323,422 Weekly admissions: 31,080 Total box office: Dhs9,235,207 Total admissions: 211,786
5 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: Dhs1,557,978 Weekly admissions: 37,909 Total box office: Dhs10,155,307 Total admissions: 239,348
4 The Wolverine Director: James Mangold Stars: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Brian Tee, Hal Yamanouchi, Will Yun Lee
If it feels like yesterday that we last saw Hugh Jackman grim up to play Marvel’s fuzziest superhero, that’s because – in Wolverine years, at least – it was. In 2009, X-Men Origins: Wolverine excavated the backstory of the deathless, blade-fingered brute, but was received with enough indifference to send Hollywood scuttling into reboot mode. With jack-of-all-trades director James Mangold (Girl, Interrupted, Knight and Day) now in charge, Wolverine has gained a definite article but little else. This turgid return papers over the previous film’s narrative, but creates little in the way of a fresh character arc. A World War II-set prologue sees Wolverine escape from a prisoner of war camp while Nagasaki gets nuked in the background – setting the taste level for the rest of the film.
Fast-forward 70 years to find him camping in the Canadian wild and bonding with grizzlies while his dead girlfriend Jean (Famke Janssen) breathily haunts him from the beyond. That’s going nowhere, so it’s back to Japan, where a past acquaintance has a score to settle. Our hero is swiftly inveigled into a countrywide chase to protect comely heiress Mariko (Tao Okamoto) from sundry yakuza, a viperish – literally – vixen and this summer’s second sword-wielding robot. It’s the stuff of Saturday-morning cartoons, but Mangold – who, as in the appalling Knight and Day, edits all action sequences on the shaky frappé setting – hasn’t the visual pop or lightness of touch to make it bounce. Jackman, meanwhile, acts strictly from his chest outwards, evidently saving energy for his seventh appearance as Wolfie in next year’s all-too-aptly titled X-Men: Days of Future Past. Guy Lodge
Weekly box office: Dhs1,775,477 Weekly admissions: 38,921 Total box office: Dhs6,889,328 Total admissions: 150,335
3 Grown Ups 2 Director: Dennis Dugan Stars: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock
Once again wrangling Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James and various other ’90s Saturday Night Live alumni in need of work, the follow-up to the 2010 comedy constructs middle-aged malaise and Porta-Potty humour from Dazed and Confused’s nostalgia blueprints. Matt Patches
Weekly box office: Dhs1,906,143 Weekly admissions: 46,084 Total box office: Dhs1,906,143 Total admissions: 46,084
2 R.I.P.D. Director: Robert Schwentke Stars: Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon, Mary-Louise Parker, Stephanie Szostak, James Hong, Marisa Miller, Robert Knepper
Even with the goodwill a playful Jeff Bridges performance can supply (he riffs on his ornery True Grit character as another Wild West lawman out of joint), the deadening elements of this instantly forgettable action comedy pile up like unburied corpses. First comes handsome stiff Ryan Reynolds, the blandest of Hollywood leading men, who once again can’t animate an expensive production swirling around him. Given a backstory of a shady Boston cop worried about letting down his doting wife, Reynolds takes too quickly to the movie’s zany purgatorial afterlife; his partner in crime (Kevin Bacon) shoots him in the face and suddenly there’s a new job waiting as a ghostly flatfoot rounding up ‘deados’. (Count up at least four more pesky bodies: the credited writers behind a clichéd script that belongs on top of Will Smith’s reject pile, itself a scant stack given the evidence of After Earth.)
Tired byplay between Reynolds’s mystified straight man and Bridges’s supernatural old pro will kill off any fond memories you have of zesty buddy films past and present. Unique wrinkles – a subplot involving Indian food, mainly – are scarce. But who’s the cadaver really stinking up the joint? It has to be that of hack director Robert Schwentke, whose featureless competency with Ghostbusters-styled chases and weightless PG-13 mayhem comes to feel like a choking vice of blahness. It’s really something when much of Beantown comes crashing down in a hail of digitally rendered comic wreckage, yet you feel nothing. R.I.P.D. only has significance in today’s conversation about our summer of unfortunate wanna-be blockbusters (White House Down, The Lone Ranger, etc.). All bow too slavishly to the stale popcorn of yore; how about starting with a killer script instead? Joshua Rothkopf
Weekly box office: Dhs2,460,626 Weekly admissions: 53,906 Total box office: Dhs2,460,626 Total admissions: 53,906
1 The Conjuring Director: James Wan Stars: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston, Shanley Caswell, Hayley McFarland, Joey King, Mackenzie Foy, Kyla Deaver
So much is thrown at us by today’s hyperventilating horror that stillness has become the scariest move. Actually, that’s always been the case, but it takes a retro-fashioned winner like The Conjuring to remind us that if the creaky, old house ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Styled like a forgotten Nixon-era classic and set in the autumn of 1971, James Wan’s latest sheds all traces of Cabin in the Woods snark: no mobile phones and no sarcasm either, as based-on-real-life heroes Lorraine and Ed Warren (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson), a married pair of self-described demonologists, deliver a college lecture about possession. Joshua Rothkopf
Weekly box office: Dhs2,184,666 Weekly admissions: 59,531 Total box office: Dhs2,184,666 Total admissions: 59,531