What were the most popular films at the UAE box office last week?
Time Out staff
10 The Maze Runner Director: Wes Ball Stars: Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter
Lord Of The Flies via Lost. On the one hand, this dystopian vision of a bunch of hot teens stranded in a futuristic maze reads like yet another Hunger Games riff on a quest for a slice of its box office. On the other, the cast is a knockout – Will Poulter, Kaya Scodelario, Dylan O’Brien and Thomas Brodie-Sangster – and its director, Wes Ball, is a man going places very fast indeed.Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs293,053 Weekly admissions: 7,180 Total box office: Dhs9,263,868 Total admissions: 217,291
9 The Equalizer Director: Antoine Fuqua Stars: Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloë Grace Moretz
Denzel Washington’s hyper competent avenging angel, a Boston widow and all-night-diner regular, likes to even the odds: if you’re a chubby co-worker lacking the motivation to lose weight and land that big security-guard promotion, he’ll put you on a fitness regime. But there’s some sad math happening when Hollywood tries to equalize one of its most distinctive leading men with generic action parts that even Liam Neeson would scowl at.
The Equalizer is a stone-dumb movie, unwilling to allow Washington even a hint of uniqueness (apart from the usual silverware straightening and public book reading, shorthand clichés for smart). The guy doesn’t need to stand out, because unlike the Reagan-era TV show on which this movie is based – a slick cross between Miami Vice and Death Wish – Washington’s Robert has no weakness, no personal stakes, no grown-up children to apologize to.
All he has in director Antoine Fuqua’s tedious action film are interchangeable Russian scumbags to impale, and impale them he does. The vigilante reckoning gets more ridiculous with an impromptu excursion to a secluded mansion and some ominous porch conversations about ‘the Agency’. These murky mano-a-manos require no further explanation, apart from why they were shot in a poorly lit superstore – an apt climax for a movie in desperate need of retooling. Joshua Rothkopf
Weekly box office: Dhs364,098 Weekly admissions: 9,484 Total box office: Dhs7,671,382 Total admissions: 170,938
8 Annabelle Director: John R. Leonetti Stars: Ward Horton, Annabelle Wallis, Alfre Woodard
A husband thinks he has found the perfect gift for his wife as they prepare to have a new baby, a rare porcelain doll. But the doll’s arrival in the home sets about a series of supernatural happenings, and their house is invaded by violent cultists. This creepy slasher is both a prequel to, and spin-off from, 2013’s The Conjuring. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs515,867 Weekly admissions: 14,081 Total box office: Dhs4,513,799 Total admissions: 123,613
7 Enemies Closer Director: Peter Hyams Stars: Tom Everett Scott, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Orlando Jones
For 53, Jean-Claude Van Damme is still in impressive shape, and the veteran actor star shows no signs of slowing down. While this film proves JCVD still has some serious martial arts moves, the story seems pretty limp. Set in the forests of the Canadian/US border, two enemies with deadly scores to settle are forced to help each other as they find themselves in the middle of a criminal gang’s search for their missing stash. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs532,720 Weekly admissions: 14,677 Total box office: Dhs532,720 Total admissions: 14,677
6 The Judge Director: David Dobkin Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga
The sort of film that shouts where it could whisper and stomps where it could tiptoe – not always in a bad way – The Judge pitches a slick prodigal son, Hank (Downey Jr), a self-obsessed city lawyer, against his ageing, cantankerous father, Joseph (Duvall), a blinkered provincial judge. It’s a melodrama of big gestures, and there’s pleasure to be gained from its old-fashioned charms, even if its various working parts – Janusz Kaminski’s far-from-intimate photography; Wedding Crashers director David Dobkin’s comic leanings; the script’s quieter moments; Downey Jr’s inescapable vanity – rarely seem to be working in complete harmony.
Hank’s mother is dead, and he’s back for the funeral and to reunite briefly with his two brothers, one (Vincent D’Onofrio) who bears a grudge and another (Jeremy Strong) whose childlike mental state means he still lives at home, the innocent ingredient in a dysfunctional domestic stew. Elsewhere, one of Hank’s old flames (Farmiga) now runs the local diner, but it’s her grownup barmaid daughter (Leighton Meester) to whom Hank unwittingly takes a shine.
Hank’s brief homecoming soon morphs into a scenario that could give John Grisham a run for his money when his dad unexpectedly finds himself in need of legal counsel. Joseph is accused of killing a no-good local in a hit-and-run car accident. It’s lucky, then, that his son’s a lawyer and the local courthouse looks like a set ready-made for the movie’s third act. It’s lucky, too, for Billy Bob Thornton: he gets to chew the courtroom wood-panelling as a smarmy prosecution lawyer. A charismatic performance from Downey Jr and the growling presence of Duvall makes up for a multitude of sins in this brash family drama that puts the emphasis on drama over family – so much so that a key scene is swallowed up by its surroundings and a showdown between Hank and Joseph seems to catch even the filmmakers unaware. Yet there’s a stream of provincial resentment and nastiness running through The Judge that stops it from being hollow. It’s a story about a lost boy coming home that’s over-cooked, over-decorated and sentimental. At the same time, though, it’s rarely too cloying, and its energy and cast just about act as compensation. Dave Calhoun
Weekly box office: Dhs700,897 Weekly admissions: 15,845 Total box office: Dhs700,897 Total admissions: 15,845
5 The Best of Me Director: Michael Hoffman Stars: James Marsden, Michelle Monaghan, Luke Bracey
A romantic drama that tells the story of two former teenage sweethearts, who get another chance at love 20 years later when a small-town reunion brings them back together. While the duo reflect on their past love, the same forces that pushed them apart once threaten to do so again. Directed by Michael Hoffman, who was also at the helm of One Fine Day, expect a sugary sweet film that lacks bite. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs799,020 Weekly admissions: 20,207 Total box office: Dhs799,020 Total admissions: 20,207
4 Bang Bang Director: Siddharth Anand Stars: Katrina Kaif, Hrithik Roshan, Ron Smoorenburg
Hindi film directed by Siddharth Anand. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs843,570 Weekly admissions: 24,055 Total box office: Dhs12,089,315 Total admissions: 342,109
3 Dracula Untold Director: Gary Shore Stars: Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper, Sarah Gadon
‘Game of Thrones’: so much to answer for. With its mittel-European medieval setting, royal hostage-taking and epic mountain landscapes, this atrocious effects-heavy actioner has far more in common with the work of George RR Martin than Bram Stoker’s classic horror story. It even lifts a large chunk of its cast from the hugely popular HBO TV series.
In twelfth-century Romania, Prince Vlad (Luke Evans) has set aside his impaling stick and settled down to a life of peace and plenty with his wife and son. But when the Turkish army under the control of Sultan Mehmet (Dominic Cooper in ropey cod-Arabic brown-face) come making war, Vlad turns to an ancient power, Charles Dance’s crumbling undead shut-in, to give him the strength to fight back.
This is a disaster from start to finish: the action sequences are blurry and impossible to follow, the dialogue is knuckle-bitingly awful and the rewriting of vampire lore is tacky and nonsensical. Drab, daft and mind-numbingly dull, this Dracula is strictly for the suckers. Tom Huddleston
Weekly box office: Dhs1,506,410 Weekly admissions: 39,268 Total box office: Dhs5,930,107 Total admissions: 144,057
2 Left Behind Director: Vic Armstrong Stars: Nicolas Cage, Lea Thompson, Cassi Thomson
Not since Edward D. Wood Jr. unleashed a flotilla of paper-plate UFOs on beautiful downtown Burbank has there been a movie as stem-to-stern inept as this adaptation of the novel series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. It’s a bigger-budget reboot of an already existing trilogy of straight-to-video films starring former child star Kirk Cameron.
The plot, for those blissfully unaware: Rayford Steele (Cage) and Buck Williams (Murray) are among those left behind when the Rapture occurs and the Big Man calls all true believers upstairs. Doubters and sinners are left on Earth to suffer through a century or so of dark times.
The effects work is sub-Sharknado, scenes that should be taking place at night happen in broad daylight (and vice-versa), and almost every dialogue exchange includes some kind of stilted pause that a good editor would have trimmed. Keith Uhlich
Weekly box office: Dhs1,540,842 Weekly admissions: 39,423 Total box office: Dhs1,540,842 Total admissions: 39,423
1 Gone Girl Director: David Fincher Stars: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris
Transformed into the kind of wickedly confident Hollywood thriller you pray to see once in a decade, Gillian Flynn’s absorbing missing-wife novel emerges – via a faithful script by the author herself – as the stealthiest comedy since American Psycho. It’s a hypnotically perverse film, one that redeems your faith in studio smarts (but not, alas, in local law enforcement, tabloid crime reporting or, indeed, marriage). No secrets will be revealed here, apart from an obvious one: Director David Fincher, also the maker of Seven, Zodiac and The Social Network, is more than just your everyday stylish cynic.
Five years of matrimony haven’t been kind to the Dunnes, a pair of formerly dazzling NYC writers rocked by layoffs, family illness and a resentful move to a Missouri dead zone. We learn this early on, after the disaster that kicks off the movie: Nick (Ben Affleck, never better) stops home after a neighbour phones him about his cat that’s slipped out the front door. Inside, he finds shattered glass everywhere but no Amy (Rosamund Pike, delivering a ghostly yet dominant turn that’s the year’s biggest surprise). Has she been snatched? Cops gather, along with news trucks, Amy’s snobby Manhattan parents and a dawning sense of media frenzy in need of a culprit. Nick, who’s a touch too aloof, comes in handy in this regard.
Toggling between the developing investigation and flashbacks to the couple’s happier days in a Brooklyn brownstone (as did Flynn’s original structure), Fincher brews an ominous mood of irreconcilable differences. The director’s images – beautifully captured by cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth – don’t burn; they chill you with corpse-ready cool. Fully recovered from the dutifulness of his The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Fincher actually flatters and improves on the material with a sneaky theme of performance anxiety: Nick, a ham, pops his engagement ring to Amy in front of a group of bloggers at a launch party for her parents’ latest book (the Amazing Amy series that’s made her family rich). She, in turn, begins to have a hard time pretending to be happy.
Gone Girl, for all its murderous overtones, plays like a sad romantic drama – until the thing happens that no fair critic should reveal, and it becomes unlike anything you’ve ever seen: a sick, dizzying satire of marital mindfulness. Joshua Rothkopf
Weekly box office: Dhs2,288,022 Weekly admissions: 51,197 Total box office: Dhs2,288,022 Total admissions: 51,197