Bohemian Rhapsody, Overlord, The Grinch: 8 things to watch in Dubai cinemas this week

Rami Malek nails it as Freddie Mercury, soldiers fight some real grotesque monsters and The Grinch tries to steal Christmas once again

If you’re looking to relive the epic performances from frontman Freddie Mercury and the rest of the legendary band Queen, then head for the cinemas this weekend.

The hugely anticipated film Bohemian Rhapsody has finally arrived. And even if you’re not a fan, Rami Malek’s portrayal of Mercury is a must-see.

Meanwhile, while soldiers gunning down freaky creatures may sound like your run-of-the-mill action-horror flick, Overlord goes beyond its grotesque scenes, as it delivers a surprisingly enticing story. It's a rare form of horror movie these days.

As for the kiddos (and let’s face it, adults too), the Grinch will be trying to steal Christmas yet again this year, this time from the people behind Despicable Me. What better way to kick off the Christmas season?

There’s plenty more to keep your movie cravings satisfied, so have a gander below and see what suits your fancy.

Bohemian Rhapsody
3/5

(15+) Director: Bryan Singer
Cast: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Ben Hardy
Released: Nov 8

Since passing away in 1991, Queen frontman Freddie Mercury has been busy. First came Wayne’s World, with Mike Myers head-banging along to the band’s 1975 hit Bohemian Rhapsody. Then came a massive tribute concert in 1992 and a globetrotting stage musical, We Will Rock You, in the 2000s. Now, 27 years on, comes the authorised movie biopic to push the Freddie Mercury legend even further into the realm of the unreal.

Bohemian Rhapsody is as brash, loud and mask-wearing as Mercury at his most playful. Another movie would try to get behind the legend or play with the idea of it but this does neither. Instead, it grabs the legend by the neck and gallops recklessly through the movie on it, climaxing in a wholesale extended recreation of one of the most famous rock gigs of all time: Queen at Live Aid.

It boasts a film-stealing, possessed performance by Rami Malek, who pouts, struts and quips as Mercury, turning the rest of the cast into bit-part players. The energy of Malek’s imitation helps to bind what amounts to a series of gossipy but harmless rock-world anecdotes into something vaguely coherent.

The story starts and ends with Queen playing Live Aid at Wembley in July 1985. In between, we see how Farrokh Bulsara, born in Zanzibar, became Freddie Mercury and helped to transform a student band into a stadium rock behemoth.

The movie, though catchy, is an act of brazen myth-making. Facts and chronology are tossed aside.

It is part-produced by Queen’s long-time manager Jim Beach and two of Mercury’s bandmates, Brian May and Roger Taylor. Which is another way of saying: don’t expect anything more than a safe gloss over the Queen tale.

Luckily, the music wins out over and leaves a lively, uncomplicated jukebox movie, which is surely what the band prefers.

This is a feature-length earworm that leaves Don’t Stop Me Now, We Are the Champions and the rest wriggling in your cochlea.
Dave Calhoun

Overlord
4/5

(18TC) Director: Julius Avery
Cast: Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier
Released: Nov 8

Operation Neptune is in full flow as Allied troops storm the beaches of Normandy. Overhead, the US is flying in air support. One misfit team, led by a grizzled commander (Wyatt Russell), is tasked with destroying a radio transmitter located at a fortified building behind enemy lines. When their plane is shot down, though, the bruised and battered troops scramble to the creepy building only to discover that, beneath its foundations, the Reich has been busily amassing a freakish, super-human army of undead mutants.

On paper, Overlord sounds like a run-of-the-mill midnight movie. In reality, it has much more going for it, most significantly the talented young cast – including British actor Jovan Adepo as the captivating lead. Admittedly, the characters are thinly-written clichés – the brooding man-of-few-words commander, the wise-cracking crack shot, and the heart-of-gold newbie. But these simple archetypes are forgivable, especially in the case of the gloriously-over-the-top-jack-booted antagonist, played by Game of Thrones actor Pilou Asbæk.

Meanwhile, Mathilde Ollivier impresses as a tough-as-nails villager who would be a worthy addition to the French Resistance.

The story is also much more artful and narrative heavy than the premise suggests, playing with the concept of monstrosity and asking what separates good from bad in times of war.

And how far are each side willing to go? Or rather, who are the real monsters here? Well, aside from the actual monsters that terrorise the unit, picking them off in horrifying ways.

Be prepared for blood, guts and gore. The violence, both in the high-octane opening scenes and the more monstrous body horror, is squirm-inducing at points, all bolstered by Jed Kurzel’s thundering score. Don’t be fooled by its B-movie credentials – amid the carnage, Overlord has surprsingly more to say than you might think.

It’s Saving Private Ryan meets the over-the-top, action heavy videogame Wolfenstein, and it's perfect for all those yearning for a gonzo horror flick.
Joseph Walsh

The Grinch
Preview

(G) Director: Yarrow Cheney, Scott Mosier
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones, Tristan O'Hare
Released: Nov 8

It’s been 18 years since we last saw The Grinch try to steal Christmas, in the live-action Ron Howard movie, and we’re sure we could have waited one more month until we’re all feeling more festive. Nevertheless, this latest version of the Dr. Seuss story is here and with the creators of Despicable Me behind it, we have high hopes.

If you don’t know the story, The Grinch hates Christmas and wants to scupper the festive plans for the residents of Whoville, only to come across a young girl who makes him think twice about his actions.

It’s a brilliant, heart-warming tale and one with a stellar cast of voice actors, including Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones and Pharell Williams.
Darragh Murphy

Also Showing
A Private War
4/5

(15+) Director: Matthew Heineman
Cast: Rosamund Pike, Jamie Dornan, Tom Hollander

“You used to be so beautiful,” says an ex-lover to the battle-scarred journalist Marie Colvin (Gone Girl’s underutilised Rosamund Pike) in shambles on her London doorstep.

It’s a hissable line because she’s still so beautiful: bold in her disarray, driven to the truth.

A Private War, about the real-life Colvin, who died reporting from Syria in 2012, feels like the kind of movie that would have been designed for Meryl Streep or Sigourney Weaver back in the day. Ragged yet sumptuous, filled with moments for devastating monologues yet never so obvious as to be self-aggrandizing.

Pivoting ably from his hot-spot documentaries Cartel Land and City of Ghosts, director Matthew Heineman supplies plenty of realism to the front lines, the bullets pinging in your ears (they’ll make you jump). Even more impressively, he pushes Arash Amel’s script, based on a Vanity Fair article by Marie Brenner, into the realm of acutely observed dramatic minutiae à la Michael Mann’s The Insider.

Pike’s Colvin is a full-bodied creation, surrounded by totems of her Long Island past, her difficulties in having children (she never did), her relationships with unworthy men — and better ones like her devoted photographer Paul Conroy (Jamie Dornan) and protective editor Sean Ryan (Tom Hollander).

It was a life lived in the back of jeeps, rarely at ease. Given the fine-grain detail that even makes room for Colvin’s penchant for luxury attire, it’s too bad that the film as a whole isn’t given an overall shape. It ends as it must, the passions of a crusader memorialised and scrutinised, sometimes fearlessly.
Joshua Rothkopf

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
2/5

(G) Director: Joe Johnston, Lasse Hallström
Cast: Mackenzie Foy, Richard E. Grant, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley

There’s a reason why The Nutcracker is almost always performed as a ballet. More Terry Gilliam than Walt Disney, E.T.A. Hoffmann’s original fairy tale is a dark story about a young girl, a dashing nutcracker soldier, some transformative magic and a greedy Mouse King. So, in choosing this for their next Christmas extravaganza, the Mouse House has set itself quite a challenge — and it’s one that just doesn’t come off.

All the elements are there, and the production design and special effects really do make everything magical. Mackenzie Foy is the right mix of thoughtful and plucky as the heroine, and a cast boasting Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman and Richard E. Grant is hardly short of chops. But the story is a tangled mess.

A young girl, Clara (Foy), mourning her dead mother, must unlock a mechanical egg to find the last Christmas gift she left behind. Before she can do so, she must attend a ball hosted by her godfather (Freeman), who may have the key she needs. But to find it, she must venture down a dark passageway, through a fallen hollow tree and into a snowy landscape.

So far, so Narnia. But then it all goes a bit haywire, with characters introduced only to disappear and plot points left unexplained.

Some of the dialogue is astonishingly clunky, too. Knightley, especially, has to deliver some real howlers as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Try as they might, the other actors seem to lose heart amid a blizzard of shoddy lines.

On the upside, Jack Whitehall has a nice comedic turn as a quill-pushing soldier trying to fill out a mouse-related questionnaire and the beautiful ballet sequences will make this one for dance lovers to revisit. But a family film this is not: The Mouse King—actually a writhing body of mice all working together as one moving mass—is the stuff of children’s nightmares, as are a bunch of grotesque spinning clowns, one of the original elements restored to Hoffmann’s dark tale.

Our advice? Leave this nutcracker on the shelf where it belongs.
Greer McNally

Hunter Killer
2/5

(PG15) Director: Donovan Marsh
Cast: Gerard Butler, Gary Oldman, Common

Impressively silly even for a submarine thriller (a genre that often plunges into ponderous waters), Hunter Killer exists in a fantasy world reflecting its delayed release, following a shoot that began in mid-2016.

A reform-minded Russian president (Alexander Diachenko) is kidnapped by rogue elements, while a US leader (Caroline Goodall) weighs responses in her war room. A belligerent admiral (crazy Gary Oldman, pre-Oscar) gets into shouting matches with a brilliant junior officer (Common).

Still, even this kind of WWIII escapism — it’s based on a 2012 novel by Don Keith and George Wallace called Firing Point — requires a sturdier hero than Gerard Butler, who finds himself in a time machine that delivers actors to rejected Tom Cruise projects.

Butler plays sub captain Joe Glass, whom you wish you could call a man of few words; he talks way too much.

Splitting the difference between scenes of Navy SEAL rescue attempts, underwater evasive maneuvers and your own countdown clock toward an incipient nap, Hunter Killer feels both generic and underheated.

You’re struck by the amount of technology on display: laser-targeted missile launches, torpedoes and the like.

Much of it is rendered by computer effects, but it’s still real enough to get you worried about the world outside the multiplex.
Joshua Rothkopf

Last Chance to See
Halloween
4/5

(18TC) Director: David Gordon Green
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak

It would seem a prerequisite, but the people rebooting Halloween – Journeyman director David Gordon Green and his frequent collaborator, actor Danny McBride, a co-screenwriter – really love the original film (when Rob Zombie tried doing his remake in 2007, you weren’t sure if he was enjoying himself or hating life).

Submitting to the new film, essentially a sequel that wipes out four decades of lesser cash-ins, is like driving a cushy Jaguar along familiar curves.

So much of John Carpenter’s immaculate grammar is impossible to improve upon, so it’s simply been redeployed, sometimes with a small twist, sometimes not. Implacable masked killer Michael Myers still has a fondness for stiffly sitting up like a sprung jack-in-the-box; he still lurks in slatted closets.

What elevates Halloween beyond mere fan service is the presence of Jamie Lee Curtis, whose willowy Laurie Strode has been converted, Sarah Connor-style, into a shotgun-toting shut-in. That’s a great reason to return to the universe of Halloween: everyone’s waving a gun around these days, and the idea that the survivor of the so-called “Babysitter Murders” would, 40 years later, become a militiaworthy nut with murderous instincts of her own has a sad symmetry to it.

Laurie tells us she’s been waiting for the day that Michael would escape, so she can have her vengeance. But we’ve been waiting for it, too. It’s hard to care much about a pair of pushy British podcasters or Laurie’s resentful adult daughter (Judy Greer) and the mouthy millennials who function as Michael-bait.

But how do you beat Carpenter’s iconic synth score? You don’t. Some of the new music fits in beautifully: seesawing antilullabies that would have been at home among the analogue stingers of the original.

And when Michael wreaks havoc on a crowded suburban street full of trick-or-treating kids and parents on mobiles, some kind of horror rule is broken, deliciously.
Joshua Rothkopf

Summer of ‘84
Preview

(18TC) Director: François Simard, Anouk Whissell
Cast: Graham Verchere, Judah Lewis, Caleb Emery
Released: November 1

When even the title is signposting the retro charm of the movie, you can guess it’s going to be a bit of a bandwagon jumper. You wouldn’t be wrong either. Imagine a world where the gangs from Stranger Things, The Goonies, Stand by Me and Super 8 are involved in a serial killer conspiracy theory and you wouldn’t be far off the mark.

We get it, groups of kids are in right now, as are synth-laden John Carpenter-style scores. But do we need another straight-up homage?

Well, this actually looks like it might get pretty scary, with the boys’ investigation into their police chief neighbour quickly turning dangerous.
We’re not bored of this trend yet, but we’re getting mighty close.
Paul Clifford

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