Two massive movies go head to head on the box office top ten
Time Out staff
10 A Long Way Down Director: Pascal Chaumeil Stars: Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Imogen Poots
The novel A Long Way Down is not-quite-vintage Nick Hornby. And this is a disappointing film version, a bit hokey and fake. The big problem is the book’s played-for-laughs concept: four suicidal Londoners planning to top themselves on New Year’s Eve choose the same skyscraper to jump off.
Pierce Brosnan out-mockneys Jamie Oliver as a disgraced daytime telly presenter fresh out of prison after a scandal. Imogen Poots is terrific as a sarky, brattish politician’s daughter (‘it’s exciting to have a celebrity in our suicide midst’). Aaron Paul (Jesse from Breaking Bad) is a failed rocker working as a pizza delivery guy. And, in a weird bit of casting, Toni Collette (hilarious in The United States of Tara) drabs it up as a Home Counties single mum.
It’s not a spoiler to say that no one takes the plunge. There are funny moments: when the story ends up on national news, attention-seeking Poots tells a reporter how they saw an angel resembling Matt Damon on the roof. Rosamund Pike is hilarious as a bitchy TV host.
But it’s hard to care about these characters. None of them is believable for a second. And the film lacks that slip-into-a-Slanket cosy feel you want from Hornby. Cath Clarke
Weekly box office: Dhs260,259 Weekly admissions: 7,022 Total box office: Dhs260,259 Total admissions: 7,022
9 Barbie and The Secret Door Director: Karen J. Lloyd Voices: Kelly Sheridan, Katie Crown, Chanelle Peloso
This fairy musical is aimed squarely at fans of, Barbie. In this musical animated film the blonde doll plays Alexa, a shy princess who discovers a secret door in her kingdom which leads her – Alice in Wonderland style – into a brightly coloured world of whimsical happenings, and enchanting people and characters.
Inside, Alexa meets Romy and Nori, a mermaid and a fairy, who explain all is not as well as they might appear in the magical world and that a spoiled ruler is trying to eradicate all magic from the land. If your kids like their films with plenty of songs and pink unicorns then this will give you 80 minutes of silence. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs325,856 Weekly admissions: 9,401 Total box office: Dhs325,856 Total admissions: 9,401
8 Tammy Director: Ben Falcone Stars: Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates
Her day starts bad when she runs over a deer, and only gets worse as she loses her job and discovers her husband is cheating with a neighbour. Not that Tammy (Melissa McCarthy) has much of a dream life to begin with – as this tonally scattershot but still bracingly sour comedy is quick to point out. Bad luck runs in Tammy’s family, especially in her acidic grandma, Pearl (Susan Sarandon), who always has a drink at the ready to drown her sorrows and wash down her medicine. Tammy’s latest setback inspires the duo to take a road trip to Niagara Falls, though it isn’t long before the insults fly.
As is the case with many tart-tongued Hollywood comedies these days, sentiment lies in wait. Yet the life lessons are wedded to a much more idiosyncratic story than you might think. McCarthy’s star power – solidified by the foul-mouthed farces Bridesmaids (2011) and The Heat (2013) – have earned her carte blanche to do as she wishes with this passion project, which she and husband-director Ben Falcone nurtured over several years, co-writing the script together.
They have little feel for the technical side of filmmaking. The imagery is flat and the editing amateurish. Nonetheless, McCarthy and Falcone’s attempts to make Tammy more flesh-and-blood than a figure of fun are often poignant, as in a scene in which our heroine gets a tough talking-to from guest star Kathy Bates. For all its failings and flailings, there’s plenty to admire in this oddball star vehicle. Keith Uhlich
Weekly box office: Dhs453,970 Weekly admissions: 11,150 Total box office: Dhs2,376,442 Total admissions: 56,827
7 Earth to Echo Director: Dave Green Stars: Teo Halm, Astro, Reese Hartwig
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. Deep in suburban America, a trio of 13-year-old boys find a cute alien who’s crashed to earth. But as they make friends with the visitor, sinister forces of adult officialdom swoop in. You can imagine ET phoning his legal team, but although this kids’ sci-fi adventure is derivative, its characters are drawn with more care and insight than you’d expect.
‘Just kids’ is all this lot ever hear from patronising grown-ups, so the story’s ongoing chase scenario, all filmed on their smartphones, gives them some experience of the big bad world (driving cars, venturing into bars). That yearning to be taken seriously will chime with the intended PG audience. And although the boys bond with the creature (a sort of metallic baby owl), it generates little aww-factor, though the special effects and agreeable cast almost make up for it. This is a surprisingly likeable little movie. Trevor Johnston
Weekly box office: Dhs392,403 Weekly admissions: 11,180 Total box office: Dhs392,403 Total admissions: 11,180
6 Planes: Fire & Rescue Director: Roberts Gannaway Stars: Dane Cook, Ed Harris, Julie Bowen
Displaying a weird lack of memorable or endearing characters, this animated effort feels more like a direct-to-video job from the 1990s than a fully-fledged John Lasseter-exec-produced theatrical release. After Frozen, it’s a huge step back for Disney, both in terms of simply telling an engaging story for kids, and its underlying social messages. The first three female characters with dialogue are a killjoy mechanic who informs hero Dusty (Dane Cook) that he can’t race anymore for health reasons, a waitress with a single line, and a pink sports car who’s hit on by – groan – a pickup truck.
The boys don’t fare much better: the main story arc is about an antiquated model of plane struggling to cope with obsolescence in his chosen job market. It’s difficult to imagine how this parable of middle age will resonate with eight-year-olds. Of course, you could say the same of something like Pixar’s grumpy-old-man odyssey Up, but that was a triumph of characterisation and charm over a bare-bones narrative. Sadly, the closest this lacklustre outing comes to wittiness is making forced puns about how Dusty ‘kicked Aston Martin’. The rockin’ MOR soundtrack also deserves special mention for Nickelback-esque services to dreariness. Catherine Bray
Weekly box office: Dhs467,204 Weekly admissions: 11,932 Total box office: Dhs2,518,882 Total admissions: 61,770
5 Step Up All In Director: Trish Sie Stars: Alyson Stoner, Briana Evigan, Ryan Guzman
Eight years after the original, All In is the fifth incarnation of the Step Up franchise. Model-turned-actor Ryan Guzman picks up where he left off in Step Up Revolution as Sean Asa, once again starring opposite Briana Evigan who reignites her role as Andie West. Against a backdrop of the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, All In sees the embattled crew head to a national competition in the pursuit of their dreams in the face of adversity. Sound familiar? If we’ve learned anything at all from the first four in the Step Up series it’s that there’s likely to be plenty of romantic tension and concentrated dance faces. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs1,060,902 Weekly admissions: 24,044 Total box office: Dhs5,150,284 Total admissions: 120,165
4 Suniya Fi Masr Director: Amr Salama and Fadel El Garhy Stars: Ahmed Helmy, Yasmin Raeis, Dalal Abdelaziz and Lotfy Labib
Arabic film directed by Amr Salama and Fadel El Garhy. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs962,640 Weekly admissions: 26,810 Total box office: Dhs4,908,043 Total admissions: 137,091
3 Transformers: Age of Extinction Director: Michael Bay Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor
Michael Bay, a filmmaker whose style is better known than that of any other working artist on the planet, tried to make a real movie in 2013: the underrated Pain & Gain, a Miami crime comedy with actual performances and a satirical bite. He got mocked for it. So it feels like Bay has returned to his normal beat – big robots, and explosions. The problem (or maybe it’s a virtue) with an uninhibited Michael Bay and Transformers: Age of Extinction, the fourth in the series, is that, despite deadening our senses with spectacle, it’s impossible for a director this committed to visual fireworks not to pull off a megablast once in a while. The action is cut cleaner here than in any other picture Bay’s done. And as his king Autobot, Optimus Prime whirls down highways in a blaze of metal or sends puny humans tumbling through the air only to be caught at the last second, Bay is often coming up with genius shots, perhaps at the expense of logic.
We could tell you a bunch of boring plot stuff, about how Shia LaBeouf is gone, making way for Mark Wahlberg’s struggling Texas inventor, Cade Yeager, a widower with a teenage daughter (Nicola Peltz). Or about how the evil CEO of an Apple-like tech giant (Stanley Tucci) has plans to make his own robots. Or that most of the destruction takes place in China, a country with a financial stake in the movie. But what matters to Bay are fluttering American flags, sentimental sunsets and actors rappelling across the Chicago skyline as mechanical dogs chase them. Joshua Rothkopf
Weekly box office: Dhs2,220,729 Weekly admissions: 45,445 Total box office: Dhs12,541,207 Total admissions: 251,803
2 Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Director: Matt Reeves Stars: Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Andy Serkis
Let’s face it, high-minded ideas are all very well, but can they compete with a chimp on horseback firing an Uzi?
2010’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes was as smart as modern sci-fi gets, ditching the 1960s-born franchise’s gritty dystopian roots for a slick, high-minded story of scientific over ambition (with a few explosions chucked in for good measure). This first sequel, however, plunges us straight into the post-apocalyptic pressure cooker, a world of burgeoning ape civilisation and fading human dominance, as the survivors of a devastating epidemic huddle in the ruins of old San Francisco. It may lack its predecessor’s lofty ambitions, but once the bullets, spears and hairy fists start flying you’ll be too wrapped up to care.
Among the apes, the heroic Caesar (Andy Serkis) has retained clan control, leading his simian family through a decade of growth and prosperity. But for the humans it’s a whole different story, as desperate leaders Malcolm (Jason Clarke) and Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) debate different strategies for dealing both with an impending power shortage and the encroaching threat of the apes.
The effects are nothing short of jaw dropping: rarely has CGI been employed with such dexterity and depth. Caesar and his followers are complete characters, rendered flawlessly down to each wrinkle and back hair. Cloverfield director Matt Reeves marshals his action sequences superbly – a ferocious central battle is a triumph. Tom Huddleston
Weekly box office: Dhs2,759,162 Weekly admissions: 58,613 Total box office: Dhs11,064,133 Total admissions: 240,192
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
Weekly box office: Dhs5,692,174 Weekly admissions: 134,895 Total box office: Dhs5,692,174 Total admissions: 134,895