Science Fiction Films

Top Ten Chart - 2014/15

Concatenation's annual calculation looking at the 52 UK weekly film (movie) charts up to Easter 2015 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 Amazing Spider-Man 2

(12A)

The second in the arguably unnecessary re-boot of the Marvel Comics' franchise, but it has to be admitted that the special effects are even more spectacular. It also has to be said that by our scoring system this one accrued 88 points, a full 13 ahead of the second biggest UK box office taker of the 12 months to Easter.  Trailer here.


2. Guardians of the Galaxy

(12A )

After stealing a mysterious orb in the far reaches of outer space, Peter Quill from Earth, is now the main target of a manhunt led by the villain known as Ronan the Accuser. To help fight Ronan and his team and save the galaxy from his power, Quill creates a team of space heroes known as the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' to save the world. This is a fun, sci-fi, space opera-ish romp based on the US comics franchise.  This went on to win a Hugo Award for Best Daramtic Presentation (Long Form). Now, a Hugo for film does not make it the best SF film of the year (the Hugo voters aren't exactly cinematically literate bless 'em) but the Hugo win is a sign that this was one of the far better SF films coming out of Hollywood. Recommended.  Trailer here.


3. Lucy

(15)

Action SF. It was supposed to be a simple job. All Lucy had to do was deliver a mysterious briefcase to Mr. Jang. But immediately Lucy is caught up in a nightmarish deal where she is captured and turned into a drug mule for a new and powerful synthetic drug. When the bag she is carrying inside of her stomach leaks, Lucy's body undergoes unimaginable changes that begins to unlock her mind's full potential. With her new-found powers, Lucy turns into a merciless warrior intent on getting back at her captors. She receives invaluable help from Professor Norman, the leading authority on the human mind, and French police captain Pierre Del Rio.  This film does not take itself too seriously even though it is a straght action thriller, and so you should not too. Do that and this is rather enjoyable. The pro-science message is also welcome.   Trailer here.


4. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

(12A)

More Tolkien mayhem from director Peter Jackson. Bilbo and Company are forced to engage in a war against an array of combatants and keep the Lonely Mountain from falling into the hands of a rising darkness. After the Dragon leaves the Lonely Mountain, the people of Lake-town see the threat coming. Orcs, dwarves, elves and people prepare for war. Bilbo sees Thorin going mad and tries to help. Meanwhile, Gandalf is rescued from the Necromancer's prison and his rescuers realise who the Necromancer is.  Trailer here.


5. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

(12A)

Ten years after a pandemic disease (we saw at the very end and during the closing credits of the last film), apes who have survived it are drawn into battle with a group of human survivors. The growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth's dominant species.   Trailer here.


6. Maleficent

(PG)

Fantasy, dark edged fair tale, based on the story 'La Belle au Bois Dormant', directed by Robert Stromberg. With Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Lesley Manville. A vengeful fairy is driven to curse an infant princess, only to discover that the child may be the one person who can restore peace to their troubled land.  This is a British offering (Pinewood) with US backing.  Trailer here.


7. The Theory of Everything

(12A)

Now this is not SF but this is the Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation so you will understand our including this science biographical offering. The Theory of Everything is the story of the physicist Stephen Hawking and Jane Wilde, the arts student he fell in love with whilst studying at Cambridge in the 1960s. Little was expected from Stephen Hawking, a bright but shiftless student of cosmology, given just two years to live following the diagnosis of a fatal illness (MS) at 21 years of age.  Note: this film focuses on the relationship and not the science, but it is a very moving drama.  Trailer here.


8. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

(12A)

The second in the Captain America franchise based on the Marvel comic books.  Trailer here.


9. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1

(15)

Based on the best-selling juvenile SF novels by Suzanne Collins and the third film in the franchise. With the Games destroyed, Katniss Everdeen, along with Gale, Finnick and Beetee, end up in the so thought 'destroyed' District 13. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her friends, Katniss becomes the 'Mockingjay', the symbol of rebellion for the districts of Panem.  Trailer here.


10. X-Men: Days of Future Past

(12A)

The fourth film in this box office top ten based on a comic series. This time it is Marvel Comics X-Men. (Thank goodness we have the 'Worthies that slipped through the net section to come...)  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.

Time Lapse (15)
Three friends discover their neighbour's mysterious machine that takes pictures 24hrs into the future and conspire to use it for personal gain, until disturbing and dangerous images begin to develop… This is an indie film and a directorial debut for Bradley King. As here he is unencumbered by big Hollywood studio producers' constraints, we get a genuine reflection of this director's abilities: He is one to watch. This was possibly the best time travel film of the year.  'Of the year'? Well, we have to admit that this is a bit of a cheat. The film did come out last year in a number of countries, but not on general release but was screened at a score or so of film fests. However it will be out this year in May (2015) and the DVD should be available in the autumn.  (If not then we may give it another puff next year.)  Trailer here.

Ex Machina (15)
Hard SF. Alex Garland wrote and directed this: Alex being the screenwriter for 28 Days Later and Sunshine. What would it be like creating a truly human-like artificial intelligence? (Includes elements that are a mix of Greg Egan and Philip K. Dick.)  In 2016 it was nominated for a Hugo AwardTrailer here.

Transcendence (12A)
Hard SF. What if you could download a consciousness into a computer? Now, this is now quite a common trope but this time it takes a more Eganesque approach. And the all-star cast further helps: Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Morgan Freeman.  Having said that you may have some qualms as to plotting...  Trailer here.

The Congress (15)
This 2014 film is based on a story from the SF grandmaster Stanislaw Lem. A woman agrees to be one of the first to enter cyberspace… Could this be one of the best films of 2014? This did not make our best films of 2014 list above as none of us have yet seen it, so you decide.  Trailer here.

These Final Hours (unrated at time of posting but we guess 12A)
It is the end of the world in one hemisphere and the catastrophe is spreading to the rest of the planet. A self-obsessed young man makes his way to the party-to-end-all-parties on the last day on Earth but ends up saving the life of a little girl searching for her father… This did well on the Fantastic Films Festivals circuit in the latter half of 2013 and early in 2014. It has had a general theatre release in Australia in 2014, but has not had much profile elsewhere.  Trailer here.

Into the Woods (PG)
This is a musical and it is years since we had a musical on this annual cinematic review page. It is also a dark fairy tale that is a twist on, and a mix of, four Grimm stories: 'Jack and the Beanstalk', 'Cinderella', 'Rapunzel' and 'Little Red Riding Hood'. British made (Shepperton Studios) with American finance.  All-star cast includes Tracey Ullman, Lilla Crawford, Meryl Streep, Simon Russell Beale, Johnny Depp, James Corden and Emily Blunt.  Trailer here.

It Follows (18)
Supernatural horror. A man passes on a the curse of being killed by a supernatural murderer -- the 'it' of the title -- who will relentlessly follow. The only thing that can be done is to again pass the curse on. This plot has elements of the 1950s classic The Night of the Demon.  Forget violent, slash and gore horror, if 'suspense' is your thing then this is it distilled in cinematic form. Your eyes will soon be darting all over the screen to see whether that person or this is 'it'. Not just a must for horror fans but genre cinematic buffs too as this offering is truly an exemplar of its kind.  Trailer here.

And one to avoid…

Interstellar (12A)
Humanity is ruining the Earth, but never mind as a wormhole, possibly leading to new worlds we can then ruin, has been discovered in the Solar system. Interstellar is wonderful cinematic space-travel eye-candy but Christopher Nolan tries too hard to emulate Stanley Kubrick (and fails) with the film being overly self-reverential and rather preachy. It also fails being SFnally naďve (with a morally dubious sub-text of leave-the-Earth's-environmental-degradation-problems-to-future-generations) and is, at three hours, way far too long.   Trailer here. You were warned. (Honest, you would be far better off digging out a DVD of 2001:A Space Odyssey.)

 

See also our selection of best films of 2014 (January - December) as opposed to the year to Easter 2014 - Easter 2015 box office chart above. This personal selection is in our Spring 2015 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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