Keira Knightley and Scarlett Johansson go head to head on UAE screens
Time Out staff
Hercules Director: Brett Ratner Stars: Dwayne Johnson, John Hurt, Ian McShane 2/5
Strap on your sword belt, buckle your sandals and oil up your rippling six-pack, because here comes yet another interminable, CGI-drenched mythic mish-mash with far more money than brain cells. Dwayne Johnson (we’re no longer allowed to call him The Rock) plays the title character who – in this loose adaptation of Steve Moore’s comic book series – is a mercenary warrior who uses inflated tales of his divine parentage and epic labours to psych out his enemies. Hired – along with a ragtag band of sidekicks who include a seer (Ian McShane), a wisecracking archer (Rufus Sewell) and a Swedish ninja with dreadlocks (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal) – to defend the kingdom of Thrace against a mysterious enemy, Hercules soon finds his past coming back to haunt him in the form of Joseph Fiennes sporting a worrying blond mullet.
Given that its director is the widely derided Brett Ratner (Rush Hour, X-Men: The Last Stand), it’s no great surprise that Hercules is a complete mess: the plot barely hangs together, the characters are meagrely sketched and the 3D digital effects are plasticky, indistinct and wearying to look at. The script contains a handful of decent comic asides and there’s one great mid-battle moment where Herc throws a horse, but on the whole this is decidedly non-legendary. Tom Huddleston
Begin Again Director: John Carney Stars: Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Adam Levine 4/5
Avoid this film like E coli if your instinctive reaction to all things infectiously sweet and sincere is spontaneous toe curling. The director is John Carney, who made the scruffy-gorgeous musical Once for pennies on the streets of Dublin. Here he repeats the formula with proper money and stars. Keira Knightley is Greta, an English songwriter in New York who’s just been dumped by her rock-star boyfriend (we know something’s up when he starts growing facial hair). Greta is singing a wrist-slitty break-up song at an open-mic night when she’s spotted by Dan, a washed-up record producer (Mark Ruffalo: arrest that man, he’s too charming). Together they make an album using the sounds of New York as a backdrop.
Begin Again in no way has the rough-around-the-edges ring of truth of Once – or the brilliant songs. And Carney can’t meet a cliché without tip-toeing very close to it. But what makes it special is that it’s not another romance about finding a man. It’s about finding your people, about being a bit lost in your twenties and not knowing who you are or what you want to be. And it’s got bucketfuls of charm. Cath Clarke
Written and directed by Luc Besson, best known for the likes of Léon and The Fifth Element, Lucy stars Scarlett Johansson as a woman living in Taipei who is forced by the mob to work as a mule. But her life changes forever when the new narcotic she’s carrying seeps into her system, turning her into a superhero with the power to move objects with her mind, absorb knowledge in an instant and be entirely resistant to pain. Morgan Freeman co-stars as a specialist in the evolution and functions of the human brain, whom Lucy pursues in a bid to understand what has happened to her. If Besson’s habit of putting street-fighting women at the centre of his films is anything to go by, we’re expecting a hard-hitting action flick. Time Out staff
The 7th Dwarf Director: Harald Siepermann, Boris Aljinovic Stars: Otto Waalkes, Nina Hagen, Boris Aljinovic
This is a family-friendly animation that references a mash-up of the best classic fairy tales. The adventure begins when Bobo, the youngest of the seven dwarves, accidentally pricks Princess Rose (aka Sleeping Beauty) and sends the kingdom into a 100-year sleep. Bobo and the other six dwarves must travel into the future in order to revive the princess. Expect quirky characters such as a depressed dragon, a super-brave dwarf, as well as a toe-tapping score of musical songs. Time Out staff