Liam Neeson takes on the Lego people in this week's box office chart
Time Out staff
10 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: Dhs81,776 Weekly admissions: 2,333 Total box office: Dhs1,855,493 Total admissions: 44,807
9 Pompeii Director: Paul W.S. Anderson Stars: Dylan Schombing, Jean-Francois Lachapelle, Rebecca Eady, Kiefer Sutherland, Sasha Roiz, Jean Frenette, Joe Pingue
Action master Paul WS Anderson (Death Race, Alien vs Predator) takes the directorial helm, and Game of Thrones hunk Kit Harington steps into the lead role of Milo, a slave turned gladiator who must rescue his lady love as Vesuvius erupts around them. The trailers showcase some mighty vistas and explosive volcano effects – but don’t expect historical realism to be high on Anderson’s agenda. If this can give us characters to care about even a little bit, it should be a fun slice of old-school mullets ’n’ sandals entertainment. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs211,782 Weekly admissions: 4,244 Total box office: Dhs2,323,480 Total admissions: 38,874
8 Grandmother's Farm Director: Ahmed Zain Stars: Saeed, Yasser, Abdulla, Al Ramsy, Khaled, Morshed
Yasser and his friends decide to spend the weekend at his grandmother’s beautiful farm, located in the middle of the desert. Strange events will unfold on this otherwise pleasant holiday… Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs161,125 Weekly admissions: 4,729 Total box office: Dhs161,125 Total admissions: 4,729
7 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: Dhs224,481 Weekly admissions: 4,957 Total box office: Dhs3,992,411 Total admissions: 92,667
6 3 Days to Kill Director: McG Stars: Kevin Costner, Hailee Steinfeld, Connie Nielsen, Amber Heard, Tómas Lemarquis, Richard Sammel
Facing a terminal disease, spy Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner) has decided to give up his dangerous, high-stakes life in order to rebuild his relationship with his estranged wife and daughter (Hailee Steinfeld), whom he previously pushed away to keep them out of harm’s way. However, in exchange for a potentially lifesaving drug, he must complete one final mission: apprehend one of the world’s most ruthless terrorists while looking after his teenage daughter in her mother’s absence. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs197,802 Weekly admissions: 5,274 Total box office: Dhs2,920,118 Total admissions: 70,878
Catty histrionics curdle faster than a milky coffee left in the sun in this distinctly unlikeable comedy about a trio of capricious girl pals who barely muster the strength to celebrate a happier friend’s wedding. Playing parts better suited to the edge lands of Mean Girls, a trio of dynamic actors do what they can with playwright-director Leslye Headland’s thin, unvaried material: Regan (Kirsten Dunst) is the seething maid of honour; Katie (Isla Fisher) is an incessant flirt; and Gena (Lizzy Caplan), is the caustic slacker, still bruised by a school-days rejection.
The first half hour has the scheming zing of a better episode of Gossip Girl (a disastrous prank involving the bride’s dress is shockingly callous). Then you realise that Headland has little interest in exploring the obvious desperation at the root of their toxicity. Still, nice guys flock to our heroines, simply because they’re the main characters. Worse, the movie wants to wrap itself in a belated sincerity that celebrates sisterhood and forgiveness – this when no one really merits it. Joshua Rothkopf
Weekly box office: Dhs373,097 Weekly admissions: 8,672 Total box office: Dhs373,097 Total admissions: 8,672
4 Reasonable Doubt Director: Peter Howitt (as Peter P. Croudins) Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Dominic Cooper, Erin Karpluk
Mitch Brockden (Cooper) is a young and ambitious district attorney involved in a fatal hit-and-run car incident, but another man, Clinton Davis (Samuel L. Jackson) is charged with the murder. In this crime thriller, Brockden’s own sense of guilt leads him to believe that Davis is innocent and helps to get an acquittal, only to discover that Davis is hiding a secret that will destroy him. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs522,766 Weekly admissions: 14,560 Total box office: Dhs522,766 Total admissions: 14,560
3 Mr. Peabody & Sherman Director: Rob Minkoff Stars: Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Stephen Colbert
Elderly American readers may recall this cartoon duo from a series of educational inserts slotted into 1960s episodes of TV’s The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, in which hyper-intelligent canine polymath Mr Peabody and his knowledge-hungry adopted son Sherman explored history in their time-travelling Wayback Machine.
Londoners may recognise them from huge twinkly advertising displays plastered along Regent Street as part of the capital’s Christmas display.The rest of the world may scratch their heads and wonder if the remake craze has got a wee bit out of hand.
This feature-length Mr. Peabody and Sherman is by no means unbearable: there are a few decent gags, and the episodic plot just about manages to hold the interest. But there’s little here for any but the most easy-to-please youngsters. The animation is particularly unappealing, turning every human figure, from Agamemnon to Leonardo da Vinci, into rubbery, bobble-headed monsters eerily reminiscent of those blank-eyed Bratz dolls. The result feels like Time Bandits without the intelligence or Bill & Ted without the charm: a largely purposeless romp through history’s greatest hits. Tom Huddleston
Weekly box office: Dhs1,333,303 Weekly admissions: 32,177 Total box office: Dhs1,333,303 Total admissions: 32,177
Ah, Liam Neeson. Once a giant of the British acting pantheon, now a gun-toting action-dad for hire. To be fair, Non-Stop looks a fair bit classier than some of Liam’s recent missteps, with Julianne Moore in a supporting role and a nicely chewy high-concept plot. Neeson plays a US Marshal who is accused of treason when a violent hijacking and extortion scheme seems to point in his direction. The majority of the action takes place on a flight from New York to London, but we very much doubt there’ll be a safe and happy landing. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs1,967,458 Weekly admissions: 49,907 Total box office: Dhs6,373,329 Total admissions: 155,683
1 300: Rise of an Empire Director: Noam Murro Stars: Sullivan Stapleton, Rodrigo Santoro, Eva Green
Artemisia, vengeful commander of the Persian navy, and king Xerxes marshal their forces for an assault on a fractured and wounded Greece. They take the battle to sea.
Greek general Themistocles attempts to unite his country by leading the charge that will change the course of the conflict, aided by Spartan Queen Gorgo, whose husband King Leonidas fell during the fierce and bloody Battle of Thermopylae, and fellow soldier Aeskylos. Directed by Noam Murro. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs6,576,036 Weekly admissions: 139,249 Total box office: Dhs6,576,036 Total admissions: 139,249