Remember, this is the UK public's cinema theatre box office we are talking about, and not fantastic film buffs' views. Consequently below this top ten we have included at the end a few other worthies well worth checking out as well as (in some years) some warnings-to-avoid. Also note that this chart compilation calculation did not include DVD sales or spin-off product earnings, and our chart is also subject to weekly vagaries. (In some weeks most of the entries do not gross much but at other times (for example public holidays) overall box office takings are higher.) This means that the chart reflects on-going cinema attendance throughout the year and it is not a strict annual list of the year's high box office earners. Notwithstanding such small-print caveats, standby with the pop corn, here we go...
More vampire mayhem and teenage angst. After the birth of Renesmee, the Cullens gather other vampire clans in order to protect the child from a false allegation that puts the family in front of the Volturi. That this is number one is undoubtedly down to this being a chart of box office ranking hence the public's and not genre fans' vote. Director: Bill Condon. Trailer here.
The third in the Nolan Batman trilogy. Eight years on, a new evil rises from where the Batman and Commissioner Gordon tried to bury it, causing the Batman to resurface and fight to protect Gotham City... the very city which brands him an enemy. Trailer here.
Comedy action SF. Arguably better than MIB 2. After breaking out of a Moon-based maximum security prison, Boris (Jemaine Clement) the Animal decides to go back in time and eliminate the person who arrested him - Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones). When he does so, Agent J (Will Smith) realises that the time line has been changed and he too travels back to July 15, 1969, the day before the young Agent K (Josh Brolin) is killed. After overcoming some disbelief, J manages to convince K and others of just who he is and why he's there. With the help of a being who can see all time lines, they track Boris down. J also learns a secret, something K had never told him. Also srtars Emma Thompson (Agent O). Trailer here.
Marvel superhero action with Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the Hulk et al. This is the film that all too predictably we said back in the spring 2013 that this would "almost certainly be nominated by Hugo Award for SF achievement voters" and so it was. Trailer here.
Spiderman re-boot with Tobey Maguire being replaced by Andrew Garfield in the protagonist role of Peter Parker.. Peter Parker finds a clue that might help him understand why his parents disappeared when he was young. His path puts him on a collision course with Dr. Curt Connors, his father's former partner. This is a satisfactory Spiderman film but there is nothing new and one really wonders whether this reboot was years too early; after all it has only been half a decade since Spiderman came out. Trailer here.
Set in 2093 and taking place in the same universe as the 'Alien' movies. A group of explorers, including some archaeologists, are on an 'undisclosed' mission. They arrive at a planet millions of miles away from Earth. The team spot what they believe to be signs of civilization. They go to investigate and find more than just signs, they find conclusive evidence. But some of them have an ulterior motive for being there, including the Weyland Corporation. They believe that this is where the human race actually originated… However this film is choc full of logical plot holes as this short video red neck review amply illustrates. Director: Ridley Scott. Trailer here.
Family comedy animation. A video game villain wants to be a hero and sets out to fulfill his dream, but his quest brings havoc to the whole arcade where he lives. Features many reference to classic video games of the 1970s, 1980s and '90s. Director Rich Moore did many Futurama (TV series) and Simpsons episodes. Trailer here.
Engaging family animation. In the town of Blithe Hollow, Norman Babcock is a boy who can speak to the dead, but no one besides his eccentric new friend, Neil, believes his ability is real. One day, Norman's estranged eccentric uncle tells him of an important annual ritual he must take up to protect the town from a curse cast by a witch it condemned centuries ago. Eventually, Norman decides to cooperate, but things don't go according to plan. Now, a magic storm of the witch threatens Blithe Hollow as the accursed dead rise. Together with unexpected new companions, Norman struggles to save his town, only to discover the horrific truth of the curse. With that insight, Norman must resolve the crisis for good as only he can. Trailer here.
SF action with Bruce Willis. Another Hollywood production but not a comic character adaptation and possibly their best original SF offering of the year. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis together star as the same (younger and older person). His younger self in the present executes those organised crime sends back from the future. Until one day he is sent his older self to kill… This was nominated for a Hugo. Trailer here.
Based on the Tolkien novel. A younger and more reluctant Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, sets out on an 'unexpected journey' to the Lonely Mountain with a spirited group of dwarves to reclaim their stolen mountain home from a dragon named Smaug. Director: Peter Jackson. Trailer here.
And the worthies that slipped through the net...
Given the number of sequels and kids films are in the above Hollywood dominated chart, the below is where you may find some worthy watching should you want to hire a DVD for the evening.
John Carter (of Mars) (12)
Transplanted to Mars, a US Civil War veteran discovers a lush planet inhabited by 12-foot tall barbarians. Finding himself a prisoner of these creatures, he escapes, only to encounter a princess who is in desperate need of a saviour….We said back in the Spring 2013 (see Best Films of 2012 that "this is one that Hugo voters should shortlist as it is based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs cult classic (sci fi in the strictest sense) 1912 novel but memories dim." And we were right, memories dimmed and it was not nominated for a Hugo. You have to remember that the source material, Edgar Rice Burroughs' 'Barsoom' stories (1917-1940) was the best part of a century before Star Wars and then you will see why Hugo voters arguably overlooked it but you may begin to appreciate its value. The film has bags of spectacle and a feast for epic fantasy style, space opera (if you are into that sort of thing). Trailer here.
Cloud Atlas (15)
Feelings divide on this one, perhaps due to being coloured by it being based on David Mitchell's novel. The film's protagonist are reincarnated across time with the past informing the future. Everything is connected: an 1849 diary of an ocean voyage across the Pacific; letters from a composer to his friend; a thriller about a murder at a nuclear power plant; a farce about a publisher in a nursing home; a rebellious clone in futuristic Korea; and the tale of a tribe living in post-apocalyptic Hawaii, far in the future. Directed by Tom Tykwer and the Wachowski (The Matrix) brothers. Trailer here.
SF-fantasy comedy. This film's box office popularity straddled Easter last year and so also appears in this year's listing. After making a discovery in the ground, three teenagers gain superpowers... and more than they bargained for. Director: Josh Trank. Trailer here.
The Divide (18)
This German, Canadian and US co-production sees a group survive a nuclear attack in a basement fallout shelter… This is an apocalyptic thriller that comes with the tag line 'To survive the end of the world you must first survive each other'... It had a limited screenings at film fests in 2011 (which is why we listed it last year) and then a limited general release in 2012 (which is why we list it again). (Stop press: It only got its first British Isles [FreeView] television channels broadcast in 2014.) This is not just a-dozen-stuck-in-a-bunker story. 'Rescue' comes reasonably early on -- a third way into the film -- but the rescuers have a different agenda. Trailer here.
This is a more adult (note the 18 certificate) outing for the British 2000AD SF comic character Judge Dredd. The 22nd century sees a vast city (Mega City One) stretch down the eastern seaboard of the former US. Inland there is the radioactive waste of the Cursed Earth. In the city there is much crime and this is combated by the Judges who have the power of police, judges and jury rolled into one. A trainee is under Dredd's wing when they go after a gang that deals the reality-altering drug SLO-MO... The previous (Sylvester Stalone) Judge Dredd film (1995) succesfully captured the broad vista of Mega City One but not the close-up and internal scenes of the megacity blocks, and the original film had accurate uniforms, featured the Angel Gang and and ABC Warrior, but lost it on plot and Stallone's acting. This new Dredd offering has a well acted (minimal script) Dredd with all the action taking place within a Mega City block that is reasonably well portrayed. However the uniforms and broad Mega City vistas leave a lot to be desired. Fortunately the plot as it is (lawman relentlessly goes after perps) is pure Dredd. The film may not have done as well as devotees might have liked in the box office, but DVD and rentals made it more than commercially viable. So let's hope for another. – See the trailer here.
Extraterrestrial (Unclassified but we guess 15)
A Spanish offering by director Nacho (Timecrimes 2006) Vigalondo – need we say more? OK, for those of you who don't get beyond Hollywood, Vigalondo's a cinematic SF genius: the Woody Allen of Science Fiction. With Extraterrestrial two strangers wake up in bed with each other after a party. Outside a giant alien space craft has arrived hovering over the city… Now, this may not sound like much but seek it out. It was screened at a number of Fests in 2011 but had its US and British general release in 2012. See the trailer here
Safety not Guaranteed (R)
News reporters, struggling to find an interesting story, decide to investigate a man who has advertised for a companion to accompany him on a time travel trip but with the caution 'Safety Not Guaranteed'. Arguably this is more than just a comedy SF offering. Trailer here.
Sound of My Voice (15)
More of an intellectual offering that for much of the film is only quietly SF. A documentary team visit a recluse in a basement who has a following who claim she is a visitor from the future. Amnesic (convenient) and dying due to time travel, she begins to warn of a coming war that will ravage the Earth's population… This film is as much an exploration of the phenomenon of cults and belief. Should the documentary makers strive to debunk if she really is who she claims? Trailer here.
Total Recall (2012) (12)
This is the remake of the 1990 film itself very loosely based on the Philip Dick story 'We Can Remember It For You Wholesale'. Factory worker, Douglas Quaid, begins to suspect that he is a spy after visiting Rekall - a company that provides its clients with implanted fake memories of a life they would like to have led - goes wrong and he finds himself on the run. This is slightly (just slightly) closer to the original story. The effects are better than the 1990 film, but it adds little new: you may get the feeling you've seen it before. – See the trailer here.
Womb (16 [German certificate])
A possibly unsettling film that explores bioethics. When a biologist's lover dies there is only one thing that is obvious to do: get cloning… This film – like many independents – has done the Fest circuit for a couple of years before getting a limited release in the US and Britain in 2012 along with its DVD. It is also a German, Hungarian and French co-production. Trailer here.
See also our selection of best films of 2012 (January - December) as opposed to the year to Easter 2012 - Easter 2013 box office chart above. This personal selection is in our Spring 2013 news.
For forthcoming SF film premieres then see the Concat' Science Fiction diary.
For forthcoming SF film news then see our seasonal Science Fiction news page and its film section.
If you really are into Science Fiction then check out this site's What's new page for our full list of recent postings of news, reviews, diary articles and loads of other stuff.
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[Posted 13.4.20. Updated: 14.4.30 | Contact | Copyright | Privacy]