Robocop beats American Hustle to the top, and all the other big movies reviewed
Time Out Dubai staff
10 Code Red Director: Valeri Milev Stars: Paul Logan, Forbes KB, Velizar Binev, Borislav Iliev, Manal El-Feitury
In World War II, Joseph Stalin created a secret nerve gas, which mysteriously then disappeared after the Battle of Stalingrad. Fast forward 70 years and, the horrific biochemical weapon is discovered in modern Bulgaria turning the local inhabitants into crazed mutants, and causing the dead to rise from the grave. Amidst the chaos, US Special Forces Captain John McGahey (Paul Logan) and NATO Doctor Ana Bennett (Manal El-Feitury) must escape the infected zone before the Code Red alert is raised and everything is destroyed. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs195,697 Weekly admissions: 5,364 Total box office: Dhs195,697 Total admissions: 5,364
9 12 Years a Slave Director: Steve McQueen Stars: Chiwetel, Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Dwight Henry
With the release of ‘Django Unchained’ and now this more restrained slavery-era biopic, much has been made of America’s post-Obama willingness to ‘face up to its own past’. But, like Quentin Tarantino before him, British artist turned director Steve McQueen knows that this idea offers only false comfort: ‘12 Years a Slave’ has absolutely no interest in reconciliation, in forgiveness, in making slavery history. McQueen’s film may be stylistically traditional, but its outlook is as confrontational and uncompromising as any ripped-from-the-headlines drama.
Chiwetel Ejiofor is terse, watchful and remote as Solomon Northrup, the free New Yorker torn from his family and sold into slavery in the South. We follow his journey from plantation to plantation, under masters both self-congratulatingly benevolent (Benedict Cumberbatch) and wildly, unremittingly brutal (Michael Fassbinder).
As expected from the director of ‘Hunger’ and ‘Shame’, this is not a sprawling Spielbergian tearjerker, but neither is it an aloof, artsy affair. McQueen pitches his tent somewhere between the two camps: whenever Hans Zimmer’s overbearing score threatens to drag the film into three-hankie territory, the clinical photography and hard, unflashy performances bring it right back. It’s a film made for a mass audience (and, perhaps, for Oscar voters), but it doesn’t want them to feel comfortable for a second.
What ‘12 Years a Slave’ is really interested in is creating an honest, believable experience: in culture and context, place and people, soil and skin. The result can, at times, be alienating – Solomon may be a tragic, achingly sympathetic figure, but he’s no cathartic hero, no Django. He is, at all times, a victim. Nonetheless, the cumulative emotional effect is devastating: the final scenes here are as angry, as memorable, as overwhelming as anything modern cinema has to offer. Tom Huddleston
Weekly box office: Dhs228,611 Weekly admissions: 6,174 Total box office: Dhs1,594,857 Total admissions: 37,421
8 Lone Survivor Director: Peter Berg Stars: Emile Hirsch, Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Taylor Kitsch
You’d think you could only go up from Battleship. Writer-director Peter Berg’s new pie-eyed paean to the American military, adapted from Marcus Luttrell’s nonfiction book of the same name, chronicles a real-life mission gone wrong – 2005’s Operation Red Wings. A four-man Navy SEAL team (Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch and Taylor Kitsch) is dropped into Afghanistan, tasked with assassinating a high-ranking Taliban leader. Unfortunately, these mighty mercenaries are quickly discovered by civilian goatherds, after which things go south very quickly.
Lone Survivor relishes every bloody bullet hit and Dolby-accentuated bone crunch while trading in the most facile armed-conflict ironies. Berg treats the SEAL team like cartoon symbols of American sacrifice – in one sequence, several of them even roll down the steep side of a cliff like Wile E. Coyote thwarted by jihadist Road Runners. Those evil Afghans, meanwhile, twirl their moustaches plenty in the first act, which of course portends the appearance of a bunch of saintly ones in the third. Berg may be adhering to the basic facts, but his movie’s childish machismo is a disgrace to all involved. Keith Uhlich
Weekly box office: Dhs253,264 Weekly admissions: 7,048 Total box office: Dhs2,995,451 Total admissions: 72,363
7 Ride Along Director: Tim Story Stars: Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, Tika Sumpter
Security guard and aspiring cop Ben (Hart) wants to propose to Angela (Sumpter), but her big brother isn’t too keen. Protective sibling James (Ice Cube) is a burly Atlanta police officer, and in an attempt to scare Ben away, invites him on a 24-hour patrol around the mean streets of Atlanta to make him prove his worth. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs337,868 Weekly admissions: 9,505 Total box office: Dhs4,654,812 Total admissions: 117,338
6 Endless Love Director: Shana Feste Stars: Gabriella Wilde, Alex Pettyfer, Bruce Greenwood
Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde star in Universal Pictures’ Endless Love, the story of a privileged girl and a charismatic boy whose instant desire sparks a love affair made only more reckless by parents trying to keep them apart. The romantic drama co-stars Robert Patrick, Bruce Greenwood, Rhys Wakefield, Dayo Okeniyi, Emma Rigby and Joely Richardson. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs414,943 Weekly admissions: 9,843 Total box office: Dhs414,943 Total admissions: 9,843
5 Gladiators of Rome Director: Iginio Straffi Stars: Luca Argentero, Laura Chiatti, Julianne Hough
In this animated film set in ancient Rome, Young Timo is an orphan of Pompeii’s terrible eruption. Timo is adopted by general Chirone and raised in the most famous Gladiator’s Academy in Rome. Unfortunately Timo has not acquired his step-father’s gladiatorial skills, and is more interested in hanging out with his friends. Timo goes to great lengths to avoid his stepfather’s training sessions until he meets Lucilla and falls in love, and in order to marry her, he must first win the tournament at the grand opening of the Colosseum. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs425,106 Weekly admissions: 12,215 Total box office: Dhs425,106 Total admissions: 12,215
4 Winter's Tale Director: Akiva Goldsman Stars: Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Russell Crowe
Set in the early 20th-century, this is the tale of a good-hearted Irish thief (Colin Farrell) who breaks into the home of a dying girl (Jessica Brown Findlay) and – guess what? – falls madly in love with her. There’s also a crazed gangland thug played by Russell Crowe and a magic horse who saves Colin’s life, before it all gets rather mystical and Farrell lives for a century without ageing. All in all, the whole thing looks rather gushy and saccharine, but the cast is strong – Jennifer Connelly and William Hurt also make an appearance – and you never know, it might be a slice of twinkly Hollywood magic. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs569,857 Weekly admissions: 13,164 Total box office: Dhs569,857 Total admissions: 13,164
3 The Lego Movie Director: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller Stars: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett
Family-friendly fun for kids that love the little plastic bricks. In this animated film a LEGO figure is caught up in a case of mistaken identity and is believed to be the extraordinary MasterBuilder, and is recruited to join a mission to stop the evil LEGO tyrant from gluing the entire universe together. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs1,081,931 Weekly admissions: 24,791 Total box office: Dhs2,473,403 Total admissions: 57,105
2 American Hustle Director: David O. Russell Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner
You’ll want to love Irving (Christian Bale), the half-smart schmo first seen finessing an elaborately glued comb-over in the mirror – and you’ll hate Richie (Bradley Cooper), the aggro Fed who, with a flick of his hand, ruins it. These are but initial impressions: American Hustle, a dynamite crime comedy and identity meltdown that can rekindle one’s faith in movies, will no doubt jostle allegiances like tourists in the back of a cab. There’s still the matter of Sydney (Amy Adams) – or maybe she’s Lady Edith Greensly, a British financier clad in plunging 1970s couture.
All of them are in on a scam (and a love triangle) that takes them from the storage space of a dry cleaner to the undulating dancefloor of Studio 54, and even the hotel-room buggings of the Abscam sting. The scope of the script (by Eric Warren Singer and director David O Russell) is amazingly wide for what always felt like a grubby chapter of post-Watergate malfeasance.
But Russell has figured out how to make his performers fly – the actors are all playing actors, basically – and he’s brought back his original neuroticism to boot.
Does American Hustle have heart – does it have importance? Such naive questions: It has Jennifer Lawrence blowing up a microwave. When Hollywood is made to go blazingly fast like this, it’s an offence to try to complain. Joshua Rothkopf
Weekly box office: Dhs1,214,707 Weekly admissions: 28,348 Total box office: Dhs1,214,707 Total admissions: 28,348
1 RoboCop Director: José Padilha Stars: Joel Kinnaman, Douglas Urbanski, Abbie Cornish, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton
Try as we might, we just can’t get behind this remake of Paul Verhoeven’s ultra-violent 1987 classic about a cyborg law enforcer. Perhaps it’s the fact that Verhoeven’s film still stands up, 27 years on – the effects look great, the action sequences are flawless, and the satire still bites. Or perhaps it’s the fact that director Jose Padilha’s previous work – notably Elite Squad and its sequel – while perfectly solid, never really got the pulse racing. Still, the cast is strong – we’re not totally sure what to expect from Swedish newcomer Joel Kinnaman, but having Gary Oldman and Samuel L Jackson on board does help sweeten the pill. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs1,583,636 Weekly admissions: 33,342 Total box office: Dhs5,013,568 Total admissions: 107,702