The season of heavy hitting summer blockbusters hitting theatres every other week may be over, but there are plenty of movies for you to watch at Dubai’s cinemas this weekend (Thursday August 23-Saturday August 25).
It may not capture what made its original such a cult classic but Papillon – starring Rami Malek and Charlie Hunnam – still has a tale that’s best told on the silver screen.
The Meg has still been kicking up a storm, too, and regardless of some of the reviews out there, who doesn’t want to see Jason Statham fending off a prehistoric shark? (Possibly some people, though we’re all for it.)
And if you’re a lover of rom-coms with a dash of drama and still haven’t seen Crazy Rich Asians, get your ticket pronto (and read our interview with star Constance Wu here, too).
While we can’t expect a Marvel-esque flick or our favourite action stars running away from explosions, we do have a few other potential sleeper hits coming our way instead.
Here’s what to watch this weekend.
Crazy Rich Asians
(PG13) Director: Jon M. Chu
Cast: Constance Wu, Michelle Yeoh, Henry Golding
Release: August 16
Review by Danny Yu
Crazy Rich Asians, the 2013 literary sensation by Kevin Kwan, is finally a Hollywood movie, the first with an all-Asian cast and director since Wayne Wang’s The Joy Luck Club 25 years ago. Seeing this kind of onscreen representation is incredibly satisfying, especially via Kwan’s rich page-turner (loosely based on the author's real life), loaded with cattiness but also plenty of Asian diversity, from wholesome friends and wise confidantes to jealous mean girls and scheming parents. Fittingly, the movie follows suit: it’s a reinvented romantic comedy, sassy and fun, that doesn’t necessarily rely on obvious tropes and is worth the wait.
It wouldn’t be a proper rom-com without a spectacular montage of makeovers (co-stars Nico Santos and Brooklyn’s magnetic Awkwafina are your new #bestfriendgoals), but it also features a snappy sequence of fancy brand-name mentions as if they were as accessible as the Gap or Uniqlo. The ostentatious flow of wealth becomes a comic facet in itself, never fully endorsed so much as offered up for our side eye.
Working from a smartly condensed script by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim that retains the economic essence of the novel, director Jon M. Chu (stepping up from his Step Up movies) masterfully peppers the tale with epic views of Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay, an Avengers–style ensemble cast and a euphoric dance party. Wear your favourite jade and pearls – you’ll be clutching them.
You can check out our interview with the talented Constance Wu on her thoughts on the movie
(PG15) Director: Michael Noer
Cast: Rami Malek, Charlie Hunnam, Tommy Flanagan
Release: Aug 22
Review by Joshua Rothkopf
Amazingly, the remake—by Danish director Michael Noer—is nearly as long and equally as depressing as its 1973 version. However, Noer made a slightly more exciting movie. Since the first film’s screenplay (by Hollywood legends Dalton Trumbo and Lorenzo Semple Jr.) is paid enormous fidelity, even down to specific lines of dialogue, the improvement must be credited to the actors, digging into the muck.
The Lost City of Z’s Charlie Hunnam takes on the McQueen role of Henri Charrière, a tattooed tough guy (and real-life escapee) who has dreamed of freedom for decades. Hunnam is far more wet-eyed and emotive than the stoic Bullitt star, and in this drab context it helps. Mr. Robot’s Rami Malek, meanwhile, pulls off the brainy, fragile sidekick Louis Dega without recourse to Hoffman’s Method tics.
You’re still talking about an endurance test, though, and today’s Papillon is lacking its forebear’s sweaty atmosphere, along with Jerry Goldsmith’s gorgeous orchestral score. But as a testament to basic human impulses and needs, it delivers on the grandeur.
(18TC) Director: Jon Turteltaub
Cast: Ruby Rose, Jason Statham, Jessica McNamee
Released: Thursday August 9
Ever since Jaws, killer sharks in movies have made for amazing (if sometimes fairly laughable) thrills. We’ve had Mega Shark, Deep Blue Sea, and, of course, the seemingly never-ending collection of Sharknado movies. While we happily welcome the return of our favourite ocean predator to the silver screen, it is nowhere near as fun or frenzied as you'll want it to be. It’s everything you love about shark movies, magnified, but finds itself stuck between having a good time and taking itself seriously. Starring Jason Statham and the rising star Ruby Rose, the film follows expert deep sea rescue diver Jonas Taylor (Statham) as he’s recruited by a visionary Chinese oceanographer (Winston Chao), to save a crew who have become trapped in a submersible at the bottom of the Pacific. He’s saving them from the stricken ship, but also from an unstoppable, pre-historic 75ft shark known as the megalodon. With a great cast and a bigger budget than many of its predecessors, we definitely expected a bigger bite, but audiences are still in for an entertaining sharkfest.
Check out our interview with Ruby Rose to see what she has to say about The Meg.
(PG15) Director: Peter Berg
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Lauren Cohan, Ronda Rousey, John Malkovich
Things we learned from the Mile 22 trailer: There are lots of explosions in this movie; Mark Wahlberg is very Mark Wahlberg in it; John Malkovich has a distracting head of hair for his role and Ronda Rousey is indeed in the film. What it’s about? Not a clue, sorry, despite watching it three times.
We’re told that an elite intelligence officer, we’re guessing that’s Marky Mark himself, is trying to smuggle a mysterious police officer who has some sensitive information (not sure what about, apologies again), out of the country. Wahlberg is being helped by a crack command unit (that’s Rousey, we believe).
Do we want to find out if he makes it? Not really, and we guessed right when watching it. The dialogue is terrible, all the characters are two-dimensional, and the protagonist is just isn’t a very good person. Why we should care about what happens to him?
If you’re a fan of Wahlberg is action man-roles, then try watching 2007’s We Own The Night with Joaquin Phoenix or Four Brothers from two years before that. Now those, we can vouch for.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout
(PG13) Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Cast: Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Ving Rhames
An action film made just as they’re meant to be. Ethan Hunt and gang have now eclipsed James Bond in the spy stakes. If you still haven’t had the chance to watch Tom Cruise do jaw-dropping stunts on the silver screen, make time this weekend. Seriously.
The Darkest Minds
(PG13) Director: Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Cast: Amandla Stenberg, Harris Dickinson, Gwendoline Christie, Bradley Whitford, Mandy Moore
An interesting young adult (YA) genre flick, Amandla Stenberg (who also played Rue in The Hunger Games) steals the show with her charismatic charm, even if the plot is all over the place. It’s about a girl (Stenberg) who develops supernatural powers in the aftermath of a plague that wipes out 90 percent of the world's kids. Yikes. Of course, the government gets involved and decides to lock up the surviving teens. In true YA fashion though, another organisation wants to set them free, and so begins a way-too-complicated escape plan. While the world-building can be a touch on the silly side, teenagers and all who enjoy a good ol’ YA movie will love the cast, powers and thrilling action scenes.
Last Chance To See
(PG) Director: Marc Forster
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Bronte Carmichael
With just a single glimpse of the poster for Christopher Robin, you can immediately point out every cliché the movie will throw at you. Father losing touch with his family due to work? Check. Strange events that make him realise friends and family are most important? Of course. Does that all spoil it, though? Not even in the slightest.
With its adorable characters, witty script that will have the whole family chuckling and brilliant pacing, this sweet tale tugs on the heart strings enough to make you fall in love with Winnie the Pooh all over again. Prepare to shed a tear or two.
Christopher Robin tells the delightful story of the now working-class family man Christopher (Ewan McGregor) and his struggle to connect with his wife (Hayley Atwell) and daughter (Bronte Carmichael). His favourite bear has some troubles of his own back in 100 Acre Wood and reconnects with Christopher to help his friend find his way back home and rediscover the joys of life once more. While the familiar storyline does make the film stumble in spots, especially in its initial scenes, once the pace picks up, audiences are treated to a wonderful adventure brimming with charm – from the silly (but sometimes truly admirable) words of wisdom Pooh spouts, to the beautifully shot scenery that reflects the nature of the film. The cast, McGregor in particular, seem to have genuine fun from beginning to end, while the animals, while scruffy, look more believable (and cute) than ever. While it may be a lightweight tale, as Pooh’s saying goes “Sometimes the smallest things take the most room in your heart”.
The Spy Who Dumped Me
(PG15) Director: Susanna Fogel
Cast: Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Justin Theroux, Fred Melamed
Hollywood’s list of action-comedies has steadily been building over the years, treating us to big hits such as 21 Jump Street, to the hugely forgettable Hot Pursuit (remember that one? Exactly). With the amount the studios are churning out, there are bound to be a few duds, but, surprisingly, The Spy Who Dumped Me charms.
Two 30-year-old best friends in Los Angeles, Audrey (Mila Kunis) and Morgan (Kate McKinnon), are thrust unexpectedly into an international conspiracy when Audrey’s ex-boyfriend (Justin Theroux) shows up at their apartment with a team of deadly assassins on his trail. The pair seem to be surprisingly good at the spy business so jump head first into the action and come up with a plan to save the world.
From there, the two get roped into world tour trying to be spies. How it ends up that way? It doesn’t matter, because each scene delivers moments of hilarity. Kunis and McKinnon make for a powerhouse of a comedy duo, with their performances saving the movie from being a forgettable flick. All in all, it’s another action movie spoof with a bit of charm.