Science Fiction Films

Top Ten Chart - 2019/20

Concatenation's annual calculation looking at the 52 British Isles (and Malta) weekly film (movie) charts up to Easter 2020 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. Toy Story 4

(U)

Animation.  Director: Josh Cooley.  part of the popular, family film fantasycomedy franchise.  When a new toy called "Forky" joins Woody and the gang, a road trip alongside old and new friends reveals how big the world can be for a toy.  Trailer here.


2. The Lion King

(PG)

Animation adventure family film.  Director: Jon Favreau.  After the murder of his father, a young lion prince flees his kingdom only to learn the true meaning of responsibility and bravery.  Trailer here.


3. Joker

(18)

This is the first non-family film in our survey of 52 weekly UK box office charts for the year to Easter 2020.  While it did not do well at the box office, its IMDB ranking by over 700,000 registered with IMDB gave it a score of 8.5.  Loosely inspired by the DC Comics foe of Batman, the Joker, this is a re-imagining of his origins story.  In Gotham City, mentally troubled comedian Arthur Fleck is disregarded and mistreated by society. He then embarks on a downward spiral of revolution and bloody crime. This path brings him face-to-face with his alter-ego: the Joker.  Trailer here.


4. Jumanji: The Next Level

(12A)

The gang is back but the game has changed. As they return to Jumanji to rescue one of their own, they discover that nothing is as they expect. The players will have to brave parts unknown and unexplored, from the arid deserts to the snowy mountains, in order to escape the world's most dangerous game. .  Trailer here.


5. Spider-Man: Far from Home

(12A)

A neat return for the Marvel Comics hero.  Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man must step up to take on new threats in a world that has changed forever.  Stars: Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson and Jake Gyllenhaal.  Trailer here.


6. Aladdin

(PG)

Arabian nights comedy, adventure fantasy.  A kind-hearted street urchin and a power-hungry Grand Vizier vie for a magic lamp that has the power to make their deepest wishes come true.  Director: Guy Ritchie.  Trailer here.


7. Captain Marvel

(12A)

A Marvel Comics super hero film that sets up the follow up film to Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: EndGame.  After crashing an experimental aircraft, Air Force pilot Carol Danvers is discovered by the Kree and trained as a member of the elite Starforce Military under the command of her mentor Yon-Rogg. Six years later, after escaping to Earth while under attack by the Skrulls, Danvers begins to discover there's more to her past. With help from S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury, they set out to unravel the truth…  Note: To truly reflect the popularity of this film, it should have come second in our annual top ten!  The problem is that this annual top ten is based on 52 weekly UK box office charts up to Easter, and this film came out a few weeks before Easter 2019 and so its popularity and place in the weekly box office top tens was split across two Easter-to-Easter years: 2018/9 and 2019/20.  Indeed it was also seventh last year.  Trailer here.


8. Avengers: End Game

(12A)

Marvel Comics superhero fest.  After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War the Universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to reverse Thanos' actions and restore balance to the Universe.  It is perhaps a little surprising that this offering is not higher in the chart. However the way we calculate this annual chart from the 52 weekly UK charts does on occasion throw up some anomalies. In this case the difference in score between 6, 7 and 8 was extremely tight and had this accrued just two additional points it would have been in at no. 6. And then had it accrued a further seven points it would have been in at number four!  Trailer here.


9. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

(12A)

The final on the core trilogy of trilogies.  While the First Order continues to ravage the galaxy, Rey finalises her training as a Jedi.  But danger suddenly rises from the ashes as the evil Emperor Palpatine mysteriously returns from the dead. While working with Finn and Poe Dameron to fulfil a new mission, Rey will not only face Kylo Ren once more, but she will also finally discover the truth about her parents as well as a deadly secret that could determine her future and the fate of the ultimate final showdown that is to come.  Again, this was close and the actual chart score overlapped with Avengers: End Game  A good closure for die-hard fans of the franchise, but to newcomers a very busy film with much in it and references to the past that newcomers simply will not get.  This could have done with being split into two (part 1 and part 2) films.  Trailer here.


10. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

(PG)

Family, fairy tale, fantasy adventure.  Five peaceful years have passed since the demise of the duplicitous monarch, King Stefan, in Maleficent (2014), and, now, an unforeseen but joyous event is about to unite the mortal Kingdom of Ulstead and the fairy-realm of the enchanted Moors. However, once more, odious treason stands in the way of true young love, as malicious envy, unbounded ambition and ignoble thoughts creep in the hearts of men. Now, two neighbouring worlds find themselves divided by fear and prejudice, and, sadly, the impending union paves the way for an all-out confrontation. Suddenly, the magnificent winged sprite, Maleficent, and the lovely Princess Aurora are caught in the middle.  Trailer here.


 

And the worthies that slipped through the net...

Once again Hollywood dominates chart, the below is where you may find some worthy watching should you want to hire a DVD for the evening.

Black Flowers (15)
Post-apocalyptic quest.  Two years after the nuclear bombs dropped and welcome to the future, where there’s no fuel or power, and society is a barbaric mess. Survivors Kate, husband Sam, and daughter Suzi are searching for a rumoured bunker that people say is full of food and medicine…  Trailer here.

Doctor Sleep (18)
Drama, fantasy horror sequel to Stanley Kubrick and Stephen King's The Shining (1980), and based on King's best-selling and Stoker Award-winning novel.  This sequel focuses on an adult Danny Torrance (played by Ewan McGregor), the son in The Shining.  He is still recovering from his traumatic, childhood year at the Overlook Hotel.&nbs; He wants leave his own father's history behind.  While working at a nursing home, he uses his psychic abilities (known as "the shining") to placate the mentally-declining inmates.  However others are interested in his abilities and are coming for him.  On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance.  They look harmless-mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and tween Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortals, living off the "steam" that children with the "shining" produce when they are slowly tortured to death.  Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father's legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence.  Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant "shining" power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes "Doctor Sleep".  Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan's own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra's soul...  Trailer here.

The Invisible Man (18)
This is the latest re-imagining of H. G. Wells' 1897 novel from a run of cinematic and televisual inspirations.  The core essential plot remains the same: scientist discovers invisibility but becomes deranged with the power.  However this time – appropriate to the 2019 'me too' movement and coercive control – the scientist persecutes his former girlfriend.  Cecilia, receives the news of her abusive ex-boyfriend's suicide though he leaves her his fortune.  She begins to re-build her life for the better.  However, her sense of reality is put into question when she begins to suspect her deceased lover is not actually dead but a hoax.  As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see…  This film came out just as the 2020 SARS-CoV-2 pandemic spread and a fortnight before the UK consequently formally closed all cinemas.  During that fortnight, the film came second for both weeks in the UK box office top ten.  However after the cinema closures, the studio allowed the film to be streamed via internet streaming services for a fee.  Apparently it was doing rather well.  Trailer here.

It: Chapter Two (18)
Horror.  A so-so sequel to It which itself was based on the novel by Stephen King.  Defeated by members of the Losers' Club, the evil clown Pennywise returns 27 years later to terrorize the town of Derry, Maine, once again.  Now adults, the childhood friends have long since gone their separate ways. But when people start disappearing, Mike Hanlon calls the others home for one final stand.  Damaged by scars from the past, the united Losers must conquer their deepest fears to destroy the shape-shifting Pennywise -- now more powerful than ever...  Trailer here.

A Quiet Place: Part II (18)
Horror sequel to A Quiet Place (2018) that was short-listed for the 2019 Hugo Award 'Best Dramatic Presentation' category.  The remaining survivors continue to try to keep out of the way of the monstrous, sightless alien invaders who hunt by sound.  We get some flashbacks to the start of the invasion.  Clearly the success of the first film has enabled this one to have even better effects.  Trailer here.

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (U)
Animated, comedy, family film adventure.  When an alien with amazing powers crash-lands near Mossy Bottom Farm, Shaun the Sheep goes on a mission to shepherd the intergalactic visitor home before a sinister organization can capture her.  Trailer here.

Terminator: Dark Fate (18)
The latest in the Terminator franchise that, though enjoyable, arguably has become a little worn.  This offering has James Cameron on the writing team (possibly over-written with nine others: an all-too-often Hollywood fault).  Cameron was, of course behind the first two in the franchise that are often cited as being the best.  Not surprisingly, early on in the film, the plot wipes clean events subsequent to Terminator 2 (1991) and reprises the original cast of Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger: they had to be back.  A young female Mexican worker, Dani Ramos, is hunted down by a virtually indestructible terminator from the future called a REV-9.  However, she is protected by an enhanced human named Grace who is also from the future.  They flee from the unstoppable terminator and out of the blue Sarah Connor helps them on the road.  All three head to Laredo, Texas, where Grace has the coordinates of a possible support and where they meet a T-800 who is living in an isolated location with his family.  The group teams up to try to destroy the REV-9.  Trailer here.

Shazam (12A)
Superhero, comedy action.  A newly fostered young boy, Billy Batson, is in search of his mother. In his latest foster home, Billy makes a new friend, Freddy, and finds himself selected by the Wizard Shazam to be his new champion.  Now endowed with the ability to instantly become an adult superhero by speaking the wizard's name, Billy gleefully explores his new powers with Freddy.  However, a powerful scientist enemy seeks his power.  Trailer here.

Us (15)
SF horror.  From the maker of the Hugo-short-listed Get Out (2017) that was short-listed for the 2018 Hugo comes another SF horror as a family meet themselves, or meet a family that looks exactly like them and who are trying to replace them…  Trailer here.

Zombieland: Double Tap (18)
Post-apocalyptic zombie comedy adventure.  This is the follow up to Zombieland (2009) which itself was effectively Hollywood's answer to Britain's Shaun of the Dead.  One long decade after the post-apocalyptic events in Zombieland (2009), the resilient quartet of survivors--the tough-as-nails zombie exterminator, Tallahassee; his rule-making comrade, Columbus; the free-spirited huntress, Wichita, and her younger sister, Little Rock--find themselves in the bosom of a now-derelict White House. However, in a rabid world still overrun by multitudes of walking dead and mutated strains of evolved animated corpses, a premeditated separation will send the team back to square one, searching, once more, for the promised land. Now, all hope rests on Babylon: an entirely organic commune of blissful vegetarian pacifists who love to party. Is this the end of the road?  Trailer here.

 

A non-fiction offering…

Apollo 11 (U)
A documentary marking the 50th anniversary in 2019 of the Apollo Moon landing led by commander Neil Armstrong and pilots Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.  Good documentary.   Trailer here.

 

And one to avoid…

Ad Astra (12A)
Space opera which, despite great effects, some wonderful set pieces and starring Brad Pitt and Tommy Lee Jones, is in fact a slick piece of mindless eye-candy.  Plot: astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) undertakes a mission across an unforgiving Solar System to uncover the truth about his missing father and his doomed expedition that now, 30 years later, threatens Earth… Ostensibly, McBride's father was on a previous mission to the outer Solar System to observe the Galaxy for signs of life and that mission started sending back destructive pulses of energy to the inner Solar System that caused havoc on Earth.  McBride is sent to stop his father.  The incoherent plot rationale is all complete nonsense (as is the end-film 'explanation') and some of the science simply awful: to take one example, a radio message from Mars to the outer Solar System and its possible reply takes just a minute!  There are, though, some great set pieces, one of which includes a wild west style shoot out between groups of Lunar rovers on the surface of the Moon.  Another, is a more grittier (realistic?) passenger flight from Earth to Moon than in the superior, clinically clean 2001: A Space Odyssey.  The Lunar buggy sequence is available from the studio on YouTube: best watched in high-def on a widescreen TV.  One of the writers of this shιte is James Gray who also directed the film.  Controlling both the writing and filming, he has absolutely no excuse for this meaningless, muddled, madcap mess and you may want to remember this name so as to avoid in the future.  Trailer here.

 

See also our selection of best films of 2019 (January - December) as opposed to the year to Easter 2018 - Easter 2019 box office chart above. This personal selection is in our Spring 2020 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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