Science Fiction Films

Top Ten Chart - 2013/14

Concatenation's annual calculation looking at the 52 UK weekly film (movie) charts up to Easter 2014 that accounts for only fantastic films (SF and fantasy).

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...


1. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

(12A)

Firector Peter Jackson continues J. R. Tolkien's tale with the hobbits, including with Bilbo Baggins who are along with Gandalf the Grey, continuing their quest to reclaim Erebor, their homeland, from Smaug. Bilbo Baggins is in possession of a mysterious and magical ring.  Stars: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage.  Trailer here.


2. Gravity

(12A )

Two astronauts see their shuttle destroyed by debris from an exploded satellite. How will they survive…?  One of the more accurate (aside from just half-a-dozen science flaws) portrayals of a space drama since the 1969 film Marooned and the 1990s Apollo 13.  Financed in the US (the film cost an estimated US$100m (£61m)) it was made in Britain directed by Alfonso Cuarón and co-written by him and Jonás Cuarón. As you may have guessed from its position in this box office chart, it made its money back.  This is a special effects extravaganza and really only deserves to be seen on the big screen in a cinema and then preferably in IMAX and in 3D: the visuals are truly spectacular. THIS IS NOT ONE FOR GETTING ON DVD!  Do not undermine your first viewing's enjoyment by seeing it on the small screen. This film is the sort of thing for which cinema was invented and ideally is best screened on IMAX 3D.  In 2014 it won a Hugo Award and the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic PresentationTrailer here.


3. Monsters University

(U)

Children's computer animation about goofy creatures, 'monsters'. A look at the relationship between Mike and Sulley during their days at Monsters University -- when they weren't necessarily the best of friends.  Trailer here.


4. Man of Steel

(12A)

The latest British-US-Canadian re-boot of DC Comic's Superman.   Trailer here.


5. Iron Man 3

(12A)

Marvel Comic's Iron Man 3 pits industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy's hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?  Trailer here.


6. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

(12A)

Based on the best-selling juvenile SF novels by Suzanne Collins.  A year after winning the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen and her partner, Peeta Mellark, must go on what is known as the Victor's Tour wherein they visit all the districts. But before leaving, Katniss is visited by President Snow who fears that Katniss defied him a year ago during the games when she chose to die with Peta. With both Katniss and Peeta declared the winners, it is fuelling a possible uprising. And so the authorities decide to hold an edition of the Hunger Games wherein previous winners will compete again… One for teenagers.  Trailer here.


7. Star Trek Into Darkness

(12A)

The second in the re-boot series. Stars: Chris Pine (Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock), Zoe Saldana (Uhura as Zoë Saldana), Karl Urban (Bones), Simon Pegg (Scotty) and John Cho (Sulu) with Benedict Cumberbatch (Khan). When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis. With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one-man weapon of mass destruction.  Trailer here.


8. Thor: The Dark World

(12A)

Another Marvel Comic's adaptation. Thousands of years ago, a race of beings known as Dark Elves tried to send the universe into darkness by using a weapon known as the Aether. Warriors from Asgard stop them but their leader Malekith escapes to wait for another opportunity. The warriors find the Aether and since it cannot be destroyed, they try to hide it. In the present day, Jane Foster awaits the return of Thor although it has been two years since they last saw once another.  Trailer here.


9. World War Z

(15)

Based on the apocalyptic fighting-rage zombie novel by Max Brooks. United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to destroy humanity itself.nbsp; Story co-written by J. Michael (Babylon V) Straczynski.  Trailer here.


10. Oblivion

(12A)

SF action. One of the few remaining drone repairmen assigned to Earth, its surface devastated after decades of war with the alien Scavs, discovers a crashed spacecraft with contents that bring into question everything he believed about the war, and may even put the fate of mankind in his hands.  Stars: Tom Cruise (Jack), Morgan Freeman (Beech), Olga Kurylenko (Julia) and Andrea Riseborough (Victoria).  The first half of the film is rather good and it introduces a number of solid SF tropes. But then in the second half these fail to mesh, and then logic and SFnal knowledge goes out the window, which is a pity as it could have been made to work.  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.

Elysium (15)
In the year 2154, two classes of people exist: the very wealthy, who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth. Secretary Delacourt, a government official, will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve the luxurious lifestyle of the citizens of Elysium. That doesn't stop the people of Earth from trying to get in by any means they can. When unlucky Max is backed into a corner, he agrees to take on a daunting mission that, if successful, will not only save his life but could bring equality to these polarized worlds.  Directed by Neill (District 9) Blomkamp. Stars: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster and Sharlto Copley.  Trailer here.

Invasion Day (a.k.a. Dragon Day) (uncertified at time of posting but we guess 12A)
SF-techno apocalypse.  When out-of-work engineer Duke Evans and his family try to rebuild their lives in a remote mountain town, their own version of the American Dream is cut short on the day a devastating cyber-attack destroys the U.S. as we know it. Every 'Made in China' microchip triggers a computer virus that rapidly shuts down all modern technology. The aftermath happens fast, and as the rule of law, water, and food run out, Duke and his family must use all their wits and the unlikely help of Alonso, an illegal immigrant, to survive this frighteningly realistic scenario.  Trailer here.

Snowpiercer (unrated at time of posting but we guess 15)
Based on the classic French graphic novel Le Transperceneige originally written by French comic writer Jacques Lob in the 1970s but only first published in 1982 after his death.  In a future (parallel/alternate Earth?), a failed global-warming solution experiment kills off most life on the planet in a global winter, a class system evolves aboard the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe via a perpetual-motion engine.  This story has echoes of J. G. Ballard.  Stars: Tilda Swinton (Mason), Jamie Bell (Edgar), Luke Pasqualino (Grey), John Hurt (Gilliam), Alison Pill (Teacher) and Ed Harris (Wilford). Korean produced and made jointly with European film industry.  Directed by Joon-ho Bong who also co-wrote the screenstory.  Trailer here.

The World's End (15)
British comedy SF from the team that brought you Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.  Five friends who reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from 20 years earlier unwittingly become humankind's only hope for survival against a global threat.  Not as good as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz but it does have its moments.   Stars: Simon Pegg (who also co-wrote the story), Nick Frost and Martin Freeman.  Trailer here.

And one to avoid…

After Earth (12A)
US Hollywood SF. In the far future, a crash-landing leaves Kitai Raige and his father Cypher stranded on Earth, a millennium after events forced humanity's escape. With Cypher injured, Kitai must embark on a perilous journey eluding wild animals to signal for help.  Pretentious father-and-son movie starring a father and son: Will Smith and Jaden Smith. Also stars David Denman.  After Earth won three Razzie Awards (the opposite of the Oscars) for: Worst Actor (Jaden Smith), Worst Supporting Actor (Will Smith), and Worst Screen Combo (Jaden Smith and Will Smith (on Planet Nepotism). And also had the dubious honour of being nominated for three other Razzies that year (2014): Worst Picture, Worst Director (M. Night Shyamalan), Worst Screenplay (Gary Whitta ,M. Night Shyamalan and Will Smith). And as for SF community, well the Russian Mir Fantastika [Fantasy World] cited it the film disappointment of the yearTrailer here. You were warned.

 

See also our selection of best films of 2013 (January - December) as opposed to the year to Easter 2013 - Easter 2014 box office chart above. This personal selection is in our Spring 2014 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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