Which poor sequel is the week's most-watched movie?
Time Out Dubai staff
10 Savages Director: Oliver Stone Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Gary Stretch, Benicio Del Toro, Diego Cataño, Shea Whigham, Karishma Ahluwalia, Joaquín Cosio
Pretend, if you like, that the creative mode you wish Oliver Stone would return to after all these years is the one he occupied for the headache-inducing Natural Born Killers (1994), an instantly dated anomaly. If you can persuade yourself of this bad idea, then the scuzz-violent, pop-opera-drenched Savages is for you.
Narrated in Blake Lively’s slurriest, most wayward-babe growl, the movie feels cool in a strained way. Three tanned Laguna Beach dealers of illegal herbs are our heroes. Soon enough, here come the scary Mexicans, sending our trio spooky emails, snatching up their beloved blonde and generally calling for tough tactics. Stone and his actors make this pulp watchable enough, but he’s a lot more fun when grafting his histrionic nerve onto weightier subjects: presidents, wars, James Woods’s ego. This time, Stone is just sloshing around in the shallow end. Joshua Rothkopf
Weekly box office: Dhs89,460 Weekly admissions: 1,699 Total box office: Dhs921,943 Total admissions: 23,767
9 Fetih 1453 Director: Faruk Aksoy Stars: Devrim Evin, Ibrahim Celikkol and Dilek Serbest
Turkey’s top-grossing film is released here in an English-dubbed version and the original (subtitled) Arabic. Despite being the most expensive film ever filmed in its own country, it still looks cheap by Hollywood standards, but we were impressed by the movie’s scope and ambition.
Released at home simply as Fetih 1453, and internationally as Conquest 1453, this epic has a runtime of 160 minutes, with plenty of drawn-out battle showdowns to get your teeth into. Some of the scenes play out as soap-like, and perhaps some of the dialogue is lost in translation. But there’s plenty for an international crowd to learn from this project, which stands as a significant filmmaking achievement for Turkey. TO
Weekly box office: Dhs130,749 Weekly admissions: 3,254 Total box office: Dhs1,010,834 Total admissions: 27,433
8 The Watch Director: Akiva Schaffer Stars: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade, Rosemarie DeWitt, Will Forte, Mel Rodriguez, Doug Jones
American superstore Costco gets an iffy amount of brand exposure in this marginally amusing alien-invasion comedy. It’s an apt enough association for a film packaged as pure product, aiming to snare the combined markets for loudmouth comics, sci-fi action and, er, Richard Ayoade – who, however seemingly misplaced, is the freshest thing here.
When a colleague is gruesomely murdered by a slime-trailing killer, Stiller forms a neighbourhood watch force, though fellow members Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Ayoade are more interested in bromance than keeping the peace. As is the film: the intrusion of a somewhat mangy-looking Third Kind doesn’t distract the script from its strict agenda of lame jokes and casual xenophobia. The laughs are as cheap and cheerful as the effects, but the film’s dim boisterousness is troubling. Guy Lodge
Weekly box office: Dhs174,394 Weekly admissions: 3,750 Total box office: Dhs1,706,533 Total admissions: 40,925
7 Frankenweenie Director: Tim Burton Stars: Winona Ryder, Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Atticus Shaffer
Tim Burton’s status as an outsider and iconoclast has curdled of late. The man who once thrilled us with the surreal adventures of Pee-wee Herman, moved us with the lovelorn longing of Edward Scissorhands and had the bipartisan gall to incinerate America’s Congress in Mars Attacks! is now a fatigued company man. Once Tinseltown’s defiant black sheep, he’s become a full-on Hollywood stooge; witness this year’s moribund Dark Shadows remake.
It makes sense that Burton would return to one of his earliest works, the flawed yet promising black-and-white 1984 short Frankenweenie, to try and revivify the spirits. This 3D stop-motion-animated redo tells the story of introverted suburban kid Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan), who harnesses some inclement weather to bring his dead dog, Sparky, back to life.
Burton’s visual imagination runs wild. Delightful throwaway gags are plentiful. What still eludes Burton is the ability to deepen the superficial allure of his visions. Keith Uhlich
Weekly box office: Dhs257,583 Weekly admissions: 5,314 Total box office: Dhs795,256 Total admissions: 16,510
6 Vicky and the Treasure of the Gods Director: Christian Ditter Stars: Jonas Hämmerle, Waldemar Kobus, Valeria Eisenbart, Olaf Krätke, Christian Koch
Children’s film. When viking Sven the Terrible kidnaps Halvar, his father Wickie is presented with an opportunity to prove his valour. Rob Garratt
Weekly box office: Dhs250,134 Weekly admissions: 6,203 Total box office: Dhs250,134 Total admissions: 6,203
5 The Raid: Redemption Director: Gareth Evans Stars: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Donny Alamsyah, Ray Sahetapy, Ananda George
Most folks would be left suffering from post-traumatic stress if they witnessed real-life bloody beatdowns and shoot-outs, but watching these things choreographed on screen is the best vicarious thrill you can get at the movies. And in terms of beautifully coordinated film violence, Gareth Evans’s insta-classic Indonesian crime flick is leagues above every kinetic bullet-ballet and martial arts epic of the past decade.
The premise is simple: a crime lord (Sahetapy) rules from atop an apartment complex in Jakarta. A rookie cop (Uwais) and his SWAT-team cohorts storm the building to root him out, using a video-game-like narrative (get through boss fight, move on to next level).
There are moments when The Raid: Redemption doesn’t feel like an action movie so much as pure action itself, delivered with the sort of creative one-upmanship capable of rejuvenating a stale, seen-it-all genre. A sequel is currently in the works. It can’t come soon enough. David Fear
Weekly box office: Dhs420,998 Weekly admissions: 11,825 Total box office: Dhs420,998 Total admissions: 11,825
4 Arbitrage Director: Nicholas Jarecki Stars: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Brit Marling, Tim Roth, Laetitia Casta, Nate Parker
Intelligently engaging the zeitgeist without sacrificing suspense, Arbitrage arrives as one of the year’s most undervalued assets. Not only is it an absorbing, tightly paced thriller, it’s also a better movie version of The Bonfire of the Vanities than Brian De Palma’s film. The parallels are strong enough that Tom Wolfe could sue: Richard Gere plays Robert Miller, a Wall Street big shot whose universe-mastery has slipped. The financier has just days to sell his company before a friend withdraws a multi-million-dollar loan. Soon a car accident on a late-night drive with his mistress (Laetitia Casta) ensures that if Miller doesn’t go to jail for fraud, he might do time for manslaughter.
Gere, giving one of his most charismatic yet layered performances yet, invites simultaneous awe and revulsion as the character buys or bargains his way out of Dodge, making unconvincing excuses to a detective (Roth) who’s clearly on to him. If the movie, directed by Nicholas Jarecki (brother of filmmakers Eugene and Andrew), lacks Bonfire’s scope and equal-opportunity contempt, it has a more complex take on finance, depicted as a culture of endemic backslapping and elaborate charlatanism. The movie is also opening this week’s Abu Dhabi Film Festival. Nicholas Jarecki
Weekly box office: Dhs741,070 Weekly admissions: 17,552 Total box office: Dhs741,070 Total admissions: 17,552
3 The Expatriate Director: Philipp Stölzl Stars: Olga Kurylenko, Aaron Eckhart, Liana Liberato
This thriller, starring The Dark Knight’s Aaron Eckhart as an ex-CIA agent on the run, made its debut in Taiwan. Director Philipp Stölzl is best known for directing the music video for Garbage’s 1999 Bond theme ‘The World Is Not Enough’, while Olga Kurylenko was the Bond girl in Quantum of Solace. Perhaps the movie’s release here aims to fuel a wave of Bond-fever, building ahead of Bond’s 23rd adventure Skyfall, released on Friday October 26. Rob Garratt
Weekly box office: Dhs992,966 Weekly admissions: 26,302 Total box office: Dhs992,966 Total admissions: 26,302
2 The Possession Director: Ole Bornedal Stars: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Natasha Calis, Kyra Sedgwick, Jay Brazeau, Madison Davenport, Matisyahu
A suburban family already torn apart by divorce is almost rent asunder when, unable to decipher the ominous religious inscriptions on a carved wooden box bought at a yard sale, ten-year-old Emily (Calis) opens it, unleashing a host-seeking demon. Emily’s parents, teenage sister and school teachers are bemused and alarmed by her increasingly erratic and violent behaviour.
It all plays out just the way you’d expect. No possession movie cliché is left unused, as sibilant demonic whisperings and exploding light bulbs give way to bodily contortions and husky voices. An anodyne MRI scan stands in for the distressing arteriogram in The Exorcist, but the film was cut to scrape a PG-13 rating in the States, so everything is toned down for a teen audience. Nigel Floyd
Weekly box office: Dhs1,247,289 Weekly admissions: 33,815 Total box office: Dhs1,247,289 Total admissions: 33,815
1 Taken 2 Director: Olivier Megaton Stars: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace, Leland Orser, Jon Gries, D.B. Sweeney, Luke Grimes, Rade Serbedzija
This makes the Death Wish sequels look like The Godfather Part 2. It is one of the laziest, most incompetent mainstream films ever released.
Where the first Taken began with a believably nightmarish scenario – ex-CIA operative Bryan Mills (Neeson) was forced to act when his daughter, Kim (Grace), was snatched – the sequel doesn’t bother with fripperies like plot or intrigue. The relatives of the interchangeable, jabbering baddies that Bryan bumped off in the first film now want revenge. They follow him to Istanbul. They try to kill him. They fail. The end.
While much of the blame must fall on scriptwriters Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, the real culprit is director Olivier Megaton; the punch-up in a Turkish bath is marginally less interesting than watching someone else play Street Fighter.
Taken 2 is a cynical film whose sole reason for existing appears to be to squeeze the pockets of anyone who enjoyed the first movie. Don’t give it the satisfaction. Tom Huddleston
Weekly box office: Dhs2,057,029 Weekly admissions: 54,606 Total box office: Dhs6,771,591 Total admissions: 174,259