Video Top Ten Reviews - 2000

Concatenation's calculation looking at the UK weekly video rental top ten charts. Accounting for only fantastic films we have compiled the overall SF top ten for the year to Easter 2000.

This SF top ten is based on the level of UK weekly video rentals. Remember, this is the public we are talking about and not fantastic film buffs. Nonetheless here we go...


1. The Matrix

(Warner, 15)

The Matrix was not only the SF movie of 1999 but the SF video of the year to Easter 2000. It came straight in at the top of the weekly video rental top ten and stayed there for three weeks. It then slipped just one to number two staying there for a another three weeks and, all in all, The Matrix was in the top ten for 12 weeks! But this is no Armageddon type film loved by Joe public but viewed with more equanimity by SF and fantastic film buffs, the film has its roots firmly in SF, and especially in Japanese anime. Keanu Reeves stars as the computer programmer who discovers that his world is in fact a virtual reality and that mankind is under the metaphorical thumb of an artificial intelligence. The film scores on stylish imagery, brilliant SFX and roller coaster action. At the time of writing (June ,2000) it is the Concatenation tip for the 'Best Dramatic Presentation' Hugo for 2000.


2. The Truman Show

(CIC, PG)

The Truman Show not only comes in second in the The Concatenation SF video rental 2000 top ten but it won the 1999 Hugo for 'Best Dramatic Presentation'. In much the same vein asThe Prisoner, insurance salesman Truman Burbank (played by Jim Carrey) discovers that his world is not real, and that he cannot escape it. For Burbank has unknowingly been raised in a controlled environment as part of an on-going TV show, of which its viewers' ultimate question is 'how will it end?' Though mainly humorous, The Truman Show has a hard edge running through it as Truman's suspicions rise and the TV producers' single-mindedness is revealed.


3. Antz

(CIC, PG )

Woody Allen is the voice behind the film's protagonist, an ant. 'When you're the middle child in a family of five million, you don't get any attention,' typifies the insecurity he so well plays that runs through Antz. A proverbial family film cartoon that can be enjoyed by kids of all ages. Other stars behind the voices include Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Danny Glover and Sylvester Stallone.


4. Wild, Wild West

(Warner, 12)

This film is based on the cult 1965 US TV series The Wild, Wild West that starred Robert Conrad as James West a US secret agent in the 1870s who battled villains and technology ahead of its time. Will (Independence Day) Smith takes over from Conrad, and Kevine Kline plays his inventor and master-of-disguise side-kick Artemus Gordon. Together they set out to foil the dastardly plans of Dr Arliss (Kenneth Branagh) Loveless and his gun-toting henchwoman (played by Musetta Vander) to split up the United States. With a rocket powered penny farthing bicycle and a huge mechanical spider, West has to cope with some amazing Jules Verne-type technology. Great fun.


5. Armageddon

(Warner, 12)

As alluded to last year (see 1999 entry no. 9), Armageddon came out so close to Easter that its accumulated weekly top ten score was spread over two years. Combining this and last year's scores would have placed Armageddon 2nd. The public loved the oilman (Bruce Willis) saving the Earth from a collision with a giant asteroid. Yet despite being hugely popular with the public, hence its Video Rental Top Ten score, Armageddon failed to impress SF buffs and was not even nominated for a Hugo. In short, brilliantly produced opiate for the masses.


6. Virus

(Universal, 18)

Captain Everton (Donald Sutherland) and his cohorts (including William Baldwin and Jamie Lee Curtis) find a large Russian ship abandoned in mid-ocean. The salvage alone runs into hundreds of millions of dollars, so all seems well until they encounter so rather nasty mechanical monsters from outer space. An enjoyable cross between Lost in Space and Deep Rising. Remember when trying to communicate with the aliens: "Everton is the dominant life form.".


7. A Bug's Life

(Disney, U)

A computer animated adventure not too distant from The Magnificent Seven in which ants defend themselves from grasshoppers and hire warrior bugs. One for the kids.


8. Star Trek: Insurrection

(Paramount, PG)

Picard and crew have to decide between the survival of a community of immortals and Starfleet's orders to assist so-called allies to re-locate the community. Great effects, great action, lousy plot and science fiction. Despite Jonathan (Commander Riker) Frakes proving himself with excellent direction (as he did with ST: First Contact) overall the story just doesn't hack it and so the ST movie curse of every other ST film being a bummer continues...


9. The Faculty

(Touchstone, 15)

The teachers at a college have been taken over by parasites (cf. Invasion of the Body Snatchers) and its up to our teen heroes to save the day. Notwithstanding an illogical plot, The Faculty simply bounds along with plenty of action and effects all lubricated with references to other fantastic films. Worth a view.


10. Small Soldiers

(CIC, PG)

A teenager (Gregory Smith) must have thought it Christmas when he gets his hands on some rather special toy soldiers. What makes them special is their individual computer-chip intelligence. Soon they are shooting up the neighbourhood and battling their enemies, the cute alien Gorgonite toys. The movie is not quite as bad as it sounds.


And then the also rans, which might have been included if this had been an SF fan viewing poll...

Species II

Natasha Henstridge returns as a clone of the original (1995) alien-human hybrid. This time she has an alien mate in the form of an astronaut who became infected on Mars. The original Species had much going for it, only being let down by failing to explore more of the alien and SETI background which would have increased the sense of planetary risk (unfortunately some of this was filmed but left on the cutting room floor!). Species II is a passable sequel that does not take itself too seriously.

The Avengers

The disappointing adaptation of the cult TV series. This is what happens when you do not bring onboard the original script writer, in this case Brian Clemens. However it is not quite as bad many of the reviews have made out. True it is not a patch on the original, but if you can disengage yourself from the TV classic you might enjoy this piece of whimsy?

The Mummy

OK, so it is not SF. But the original Boris Karloff 1932 Mummy was such a classic that this re-make simply has to be mentioned. Indeed if this had been an SF film then its rental rating would have ranked it near the top of the Top Ten. If you don't know the plot, then this is it. Adventurer and archaeologists seek treasure from the ancient City of the Dead but uncover something else, a 'living' mummy who thinks our hero's girl is the reincarnation of his own lost love. Brilliantly action packed, superb effects, excellent 20s atmosphere, this is really an update with Indiana Jones in mind. Excellent stuff.

...not to be confused with Talos The Mummy

With a cameo by Christopher Lee (who starred in Hammer's 1959 version) and a supporting role from Honor (The Avengers) Blackman, this is passable hokum.



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