What were the most popular films at the UAE box office last week?
Time Out staff
10 Closed Circuit Director: John Crowley Stars: Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall, Jim Broadbent
Filmmaking doesn’t get much more timely than this: as politicians debate personal privacy, online spying and domestic terrorism, writer Steven Knight (Eastern Promises) and director John Crowley (Boy A) present Closed Circuit, which wraps up all those issues into a neat little John Le Carré-esque thriller package.
Sadly, thanks to ropey performances, join-the-dots plotting and toe-curlingly awful dialogue, all those good intentions amount to little. Eric Bana is pompous and unconvincingly posh as Martin Rose, the barrister called on to defend a Turkish immigrant accused of masterminding a bombing in London’s Borough Market. Rebecca Hall is Special Advocate Claudia Simmons-Howe, representing the accused when the case goes to closed session at the request of MI5. If any of this is confusing, don’t worry: the movie spells it all out with numbing, repetitive obviousness.
How Knight and Crowley managed to persuade such upstanding actors – not to mention Jim Broadbent, Anne-Marie Duff, Ciaran Hinds and Riz Ahmed – to take part in this fiasco is destined to remain a mystery. Tom Huddleston
Weekly box office: Dhs228,079 Weekly admissions: 6,229 Total box office: Dhs228,079 Total admissions: 6,229
9 Force of Execution Director: Keoni Waxman Stars: Danny Trejo, Steven Seagal, Ving Rhames
A crime lord is torn between his legacy and his wish to escape the life of thuggery that has built his empire, when a new player to the scene tries to use the town anti-heroes network to climb to power. The only friend the crime lord has is his assassin protégé, who has troubles of his own. An epic battle of under bosses and crime lords, Seagal stars as Thomas Douglas, and shows that despite his advancing years has still got his martial arts wits about him.Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs301,098 Weekly admissions: 8,374 Total box office: Dhs301,098 Total admissions: 8,374
8 300: 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: Dhs371,729 Weekly admissions: 8,483 Total box office: Dhs10,437,303 Total admissions: 221,325
7 Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants Director: Hélène Giraud, Thomas Szabo
This 3D animation is set in the undergrowth of a valley where the leftovers of a summer’s picnic spark a ruthless war between rival ant colonies, obsessed with gaining control of the same prize: a box of sugar cubes. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs422,919 Weekly admissions: 12,263 Total box office: Dhs861,057 Total admissions: 24,811
6 Sabotage Director: David Ayer Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington, Terrence Howard
Arnie gets gritty in this action film, playing the head of an elite DEA team who are trying to take down a notorious crime cartel.
Schwarzenegger is joined by Sam Worthington, Joe Manganiello, Terence Howard, Josh Holloway and Mireille Enos as the team bust the gang’s hideout, they get picked off one-by-one. It’s directed by David Ayer of Training Day fame, so expect a lot of action from the start. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs513,069 Weekly admissions: 13,498 Total box office: Dhs1,633,452 Total admissions: 42,104
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: Dhs752,893 Weekly admissions: 19,533 Total box office: Dhs9,846,956 Total admissions: 246,256
4 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: Dhs953,779 Weekly admissions: 22,989 Total box office: Dhs4,208,897 Total admissions: 102,260
3 Tokarev Director: Paco Cabezas Stars: Nicolas Cage, Rachel Nichols, Peter Stormare
Can a criminal ever really turn a new leaf? This is the question this film poses. Nicolas Cage plays Paul Maguire, a seemingly upstanding member of the community and devoted dad, but his world is turned upside down when a Russian gang murders his daughter. Racked with guilt and revenge Maguire turns to his old ways to find out who did it. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs1,067,871 Weekly admissions: 26,961 Total box office: Dhs1,067,871 Total admissions: 26,961
2 Divergent Director: Neil Burger Stars: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet
Rest easy, Katniss: You’ve got this round. The first film adapted from Veronica Roth’s generically dystopian book series arrives with a sludgy, grey-hued plop. It doesn’t help that Roth’s source material is particularly dopey, making The Hunger Games read like quirky Orwell. Her scenario is based on a caste premise – some of us are ‘dauntless’, some are ‘erudite’, and still others are (gasp) ‘divergent’ and thus unclassifiable – which you already know these characters are going to awake from in an angry mood. The movie’s walled-off Chicago feels computerised, some of the sets are awful and you’re not going to get swept up in any action. A saving grace comes in the form of Shailene Woodley, the gifted 22-year-old who plays heroine Beatrice, born to conflicted impulses and persuasively more complex than her dialogue would suggest. She bends to Four, handsome leader of the clan she runs off with. Yet after a middle section of knife-throwing and other tests, Divergent doesn’t have nearly enough for its star to do. Joshua Rothkopf
Weekly box office: Dhs1,840,227 Weekly admissions: 42,907 Total box office: Dhs3,992,990 Total admissions: 91,157
1 Need for Speed Director: Scott Waugh Stars: Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Scott Mescudi, Rami Malek, Ramon Rodriguez
Breaking Bad fans will tell you that Aaron Paul is a talented actor, but it’s hard to believe watching this car-racing actioner inspired by the Need for Speed video games. He looks visibly uncomfortable playing street car racer Tobey Marshall, who foolishly does business with leather-clad rival Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper, with an American accent and channelling the cast of Grease).
After a spell in prison, Tobey emerges with revenge on his mind and accepts a challenge to drive a multi-million-dollar Ford Mustang to San Francisco. There he will compete in a furrowed-browed race with the US’s best drivers. Mercifully, the plot requires a love interest, chatty Brit Julia (Imogen Poots), to come along for the ride. Julia works for the car’s owner and is protecting his interests, or something equally spurious.
And so, after a creaky, clichéd start, Need for Speed picks up a bit. The script is still corny, but the chase scenes are pretty spectacular, whether Tobey is just showing off, trying to scare his passenger or shake off the bad guys. Audiences purely interested in the cars won’t be disappointed – frankly they’re more exciting than the cast. But anyone looking for a story, or a performance as impressive as Jesse from Breaking Bad, will be. Anna Smith
Weekly box office: Dhs3,626,789 Weekly admissions: 76,763 Total box office: Dhs9,289,049 Total admissions: 199,392