Ambitious space thriller tops UAE box office chart October 17-23
Time Out staff
10 About Time Director: Richard Curtis Stars: Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy, Lydia Wilson, Lindsay Duncan, Richard Cordery, Tom Hollander
About Time is a light-touch comedy, not free of sentimentality, about a young man, Tim (Domhnall Gleeson), from a wealthy, boho background in Cornwall, UK, who bumbles his way through life and love but who has a power inherited from his dad (Bill Nighy): he can hold his eyes shut and go back in time. Richard Curtis has become a byword for everything in British cinema that’s safe, stuttery, gently amusing, occasionally teary and ten steps to the left of real. The familiarity of his new film, will please fans as much as it irritates detractors. And it will be a relief to anyone who suffered the excruciating gags-to-laughs ratio of his super-indulgent The Boat that Rocked. Dave Calhoun
Weekly box office: Dhs218,359 Weekly admissions: 4,468 Total box office: Dhs678,429 Total admissions: 16,855
9 The Butler Director: Lee Daniels Stars: Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, John Cusack, David Banner, Michael Rainey Jr., LaJessie Smith, Mariah Carey
This is sort of the story of Eugene Allen, an African-American who was a butler at the White House from 1952 to 1986. (His tenure, during which he served presidents from Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan, was chronicled in a 2008 Washington Post article.) In Lee Daniels’ The Butler – the awkward title isn’t a John Carpenter-esque possessive but a legal requirement after a copyright claim – Allen’s fictionalised surrogate is Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), who leaves his tragedy-laden Southern life behind to start anew in America’s capital. Much to the delight of his wife, Gloria (Oprah Winfrey), and the chagrin of his burgeoning-activist son, Louis (David Oyelowo), Cecil’s attentiveness to the needs of the civic elite earns him a job at the presidential manse. It’s there that he spends several epochal decades, observing as people of power deal with questions of war abroad and civil rights at home.
Daniels hasn’t gone Oscar-bait-crazy. At its most daring, the film acts as a subtly incendiary corrective to Hollywood’s subservient treatment of African-Americans, staging scenes that you’d expect to see in any number of end-of-year historical biopics complete with a celebrity who’s who – Robin Williams! John Cusack! Alan Rickman! – as the leaders of the free world, except the focus is almost entirely on Cecil. Keith Uhlich
Weekly box office: Dhs188,667 Weekly admissions: 5,056 Total box office: Dhs848,208 Total admissions: 20,718
8 Badges of Fury Director: Tsz Ming Wong Stars: Jet Li, Zhang Wen, Shishi Liu, Michelle Chen, Yan Liu
Jet Li, Colin Chou and Zhang Wen star in this kung fu thriller about two cops in Hong Kong who are assigned a case when a spate of eerie murders hit the city. The partnership between the veteran cop and the young maverick is tested as the younger officer is forced to go undercover when they realise that all of the murders have been former boyfriends of a rising starlet. Peter Feely
Weekly box office: Dhs213,219 Weekly admissions: 5,839 Total box office: Dhs994,656 Total admissions: 27,678
7 Hatchet III Director: BJ McDonnell Stars: Danielle Harris, Kane Hodder, Zach Galligan
The unsavoury character Victor Crowley returns for the third instalment of haunting and brutal bloodshed. A voodoo curse has seen Honey Island Swamp terrorised for decades. Initially a bumbling sheriff suspects that one of Crowley’s victims, Marybeth (Danielle Harris), is responsible for the crimes, yet it soon starts to dawn on him that someone else could be behind the crimes. Expect plenty of gore in this gruesome slasher flick. Time Out Dubai staff
Weekly box office: Dhs224,186 Weekly admissions: 6,194 Total box office: Dhs224,186 Total admissions: 6,194
6 Diana Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel Stars: Naomi Watts, Naveen Andrews, Douglas Hodge, Geraldine James, Charles Edwards, Daniel Pirrie, Cas Anvar
Naomi Watts reckons that Diana gave her ‘permission’ from beyond the grave to make this film about the final years of her life. She might be better off reading the script more closely next time, instead of the tea leaves. If a tabloid paper and the people behind the sofa adverts that litter TV on national holidays got together, they might make something like this bum-clenchingly embarrassing ‘romance’ from Downfall director Oliver Hirschbiegel. The focus is on Diana’s two-year fling with heart surgeon Hasnat Khan (Naveen Andrews). For a while you giggle at a script worthy of daytime telly. But your nerves soon start to fry. Cath Clarke
Weekly box office: Dhs379,887 Weekly admissions: 9,366 Total box office: Dhs1,117,773 Total admissions: 27,055
5 Qalb Al Assad (Arabic) Director: Karim El Sobky Stars: Mohamed Ramadan. Horeya Farghaly, Hassan Hosny
Arabic action thriller set in a dark criminal underworld. TO
Weekly box office: Dhs391,446 Weekly admissions: 11,111 Total box office: Dhs1,317,998 Total admissions: 37,293
4 Switch Director: Jay Sun Stars: Andy Lau, Chiling Lin, Jingchu Zhang
Daft martial arts movie where the protagonists go in search of an ancient scroll. TO
Weekly box office: Dhs727,598 Weekly admissions: 20,072 Total box office: Dhs1,544,120 Total admissions: 42,004
3 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 Director: Cody Cameron, Kris Pearn Stars: Bill Hader, Anna Faris, Will Forte
It’s only when the sentient snacks are front and center that this middling sequel to the 2009 animated hit truly comes alive. Pickles stalk the town in search of their own food, mosquitoasts sting, apple-pie-thons slither, and there’s a cheespider with French-fry legs that’s sure to make plenty of kids happy in its inevitable plastic toy form. Until then, the young ’uns have got a movie heavily reliant on groaner food puns that would work better on the page (‘There’s a leek in my boat’ gets running-gag honours) and slathered in the usual sentimental gibberish about following your instincts, dreams, etc. Not even a reheat could save these leftovers. Keith Uhlich
Weekly box office: Dhs1,716,475 Weekly admissions: 39,674 Total box office: Dhs5,647,661 Total admissions: 128,311
2 Escape Plan Director: Mikael Håfström Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, 50 Cent, Jim Caviezel, Vincent D'Onofrio, Vinnie Jones, Sam Neill
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone re-team for another bruising action vehicle, this time following Sly as a high-security prison designer who gets incarcerated in one of his own creations. Arnie assumes the wisened, Morgan Freeman-type role in the prison courtyard, aiming with his square-jawed partner to devise the ultimate break-out. The trailer showcases enough CCTV footage interspersed with fistfights to fill a Bourne movie – which is what you would expect from these two. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs1,790,629 Weekly admissions: 45,927 Total box office: Dhs6,444,958 Total admissions: 158,735
1 Gravity Director: Alfonso Cuarón Stars: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris
‘You gotta admit one thing,’ drawls George Clooney’s hardened astronaut, floating some 600km above the surface of the Earth. ‘You can’t beat the view’.
The same could be said of Alfonso Cuarón’s engaging, exceptional and inimitable masterpiece Gravity. Taking place entirely in the depths of outer space, the cosmic vistas of Earth and the final frontier are rendered in painstaking beauty, while the weightlessness of space – floating objects, a world lacking in up/down orientation – offers perhaps the best use of 3D we’ve seen yet.
But this picture is far more than eye candy. It’s a gripping, emotive and original thriller rendered in a rich and immersive environment. Essentially a disaster movie in space, a routine satellite upgrade mission goes awry when a cloud of debris strikes the craft and crew. Thus begins an incredible half-hour of real time, white-knuckle action, as soul survivors Matt Kowalski (Clooney) and Ryan Stone (an incredible Sandra Bullock) spin off into the great unknown, their hopes of survival as limited as their oxygen tanks.
It’s frantic, gripping and immediate, the claustrophobia of space acutely rendered with a balance of silence, shock, heart and technique.
Mexican writer-director Cuarón is best known to cinemagoers for helming 2004’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and to movie geeks for his coming-of-age, Spanish language road movie Y Tu Mamá También (2001). But Cuarón’s only prior work to hint at his talents for this kind of conceptually engrossing affair is dystopian novel adaptation Children of Men (2006). Like that movie, Gravity should be commended for making the implausible feel not just realistic, but viscerally, heart-pounding real.
Don’t let the space put you off; while we’re forced to reluctantly label this a sci-fi, it’s one of those rare, once-in-a-decade moments where a genre flick transcends its label, and simply demands viewing, like Alien or The Shining. A brief detour into Bullock’s backstory might frustrate some viewers, chiming an emotionally manipulative bell, but ultimately this film needs to be commended for not conforming to the Hollywood ending many movie buffs may be expecting (we’ll say no more). An absolute triumph utterly deserving in all the Oscar hype it’s already attracting. Robert Garratt
Weekly box office: Dhs5,843,484 Weekly admissions: 112,009 Total box office: Dhs5,843,484 Total admissions: 112,009