Video Top Ten Reviews - 2001

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 2001.

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 Sixth Sense

(Hollywood,15)

The Sixth Sense is a supernatural who-dunnit. Bruce Willis, who for once is not in an action role, plays a child psychologist whose nine year old patient (Haley Joei Osment) can't help seeing the dead (ghosts to you and me). There really is not more to say about the plot which leads to a somewhat predictable (if you are looking for it) twist. The Sixth Sense is nonetheless and engaging film, though there have been better number 1's!


2. The World is Not Enough

(MGM, 12)

Pierce Brosnan ensures that Bond is still fresh, alive and well for the secret agent's 19th outing. Once again an almost derranged villain (played by Robert Carlyle) considers that though The World is Not Enough he is certainly going to have a go at controlling it through oil and a nuclear missile on a submarine. The boat chase down the Thames is an excellent set piece and John Cleese accepts the reins handed to him as Q's successor and whose gadgets ensure that Bond still can be considered SF. Robbie Coltrane reprises his cameo as one of Bond's sources of information.


3. Deep Blue Sea

(Warner, 15 )

When a research scientist (played by Saffron Burrows) thinks she has a break through to curing Alzheimer's disease its bestto have the right results. Her corporate bosses thinking that the research is a dead end send an executive to her marine research station to cut her funding. What the scientist has not said is that the sharks she has been working on to develop the cure, have themselves deleveloped super intelligence. The creatures break free of their pens and not surprisingly carnage ensues. Action packed and crammed with special effects, this is an enjoyable watery romp, but not for the faint hearted.


4. X-Men

(Fox, 12)

Based on the Marvel comic characters 'The X-Men' X-Men has much to live up to. Given the less than convincing TV portrayal of other Marvel characters such as 'Spiderman' and 'The Hulk', one would be forgiven for thinking that this latest transference to the screen might be limp. The good news is that it does not. However X-Men is a portrayal of the commic characters as they appeared in the 1990s and not the 1970s and 1980s that a number of today's parents will remember: this film is primarily for today's generation of comic readers, though older fans should still find it hugely enjoyable. Patrick Stewart is the telepathic mutant scientist who takes young mutants under his wing, training them to combat the evil mutants led by Magneto (Ian Mckellen). The effects are brilliant and the acting is played dead straight. The results are stunning.


5. The End of Days

(Touchstone, 18)

Ex-cop jerico (Arnold Schwarzenneger) faces up to the Devil (Gabriel Byrne) in the run up to New Year's Eve 1999. Quite simply he has to stop someone becoming the mother of the Devil's child otherwise it literally will be The End of Days. Unfortunately the ham acting, ham script means that this offering is only really worth seeing once and is almost instantly forgettable, though armed with a bottle of wine, Arnie and the effects make for an acceptable evening.


6. Final Destination

(Entertainment, 15)

A teenager (played by Devon Sawa) is all ready for his school trip to France. However shortly after boarding his plane he has a premonition of disaster. Naturally he throws a tantrum, and naturally he and half a dozen others are thrown off. The plane then takes off and... explodes! This is only the precursor to what follows as the other survivors are killed off one by one by malevolent domestic appliances. A light-weight horror counter balanced by a little black comedy.


7. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

(MGM,12)

At last, the long awaited prequel to the first Star Wars trilogy is out on video. Tremendously popular with the kids, the dazzling effects completely outshine the fairy-tale epic feel of the original Star Wars. Here we see a young Darth Vader as cute as pie recruited into the Jedi Knights while CP30 is 'naked'. The robot war and the monsters are fun, so feet up and let the Force take over.


8. Hollow Man

(Columbia Tri Star, 18)

Kevin Bacon plays the scientist who discovers the secret of invisibility. But, unlike the H. G. Wells story that inspired this offering, it is his girlfriend's adulturous betrayal that unhinges him and he runs amok. The film uses its excellent effects to reveal some of the implications of being invisible. Hollow Man is directed by Paul Robo Cop Verhoeven.


9. Galaxy Quest

(Touchstone, 12)

Sigourney Weaver and Tim Allen star as stars of an old TV space opera called 'Galaxy Quest'. Though the show has not been shown for many years, the series' stars still do the convention circuit. So their lives continue until real aliens turn up thinking the show real and ask the crew of Galaxy Quest for help. Galaxy Quest) is a delightful send up of TV SF, the media and media fandom. Not surprisingly it also won a Hugo that year for Best Dramatic presentation.


10. EDtv

(CIC, PG)

Shades of Jim Carrey's The Truman Show, and unabitious video-store clerk (Ed) gets well and truly shoved into the public eye when selected to have his life followed by the cameras 24 hours a day. Ed (played by Matthew McConoughey), who takes a while to realise what is happening, and his stroppy older brother (played by Woody Harrelson) manage to keep the concept fresh. EDtv deserves better than a number 10 ranking.


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

Supernova

An astronaut in deep space answers an SOS and picks up more than he bargained for when he goes to rescue a mining colony.

The Bicentiennial Man

Robin Williams fails to successfully convey Asomov's tale on the big screen. He portrays a robot, who over 200 years, seeks to become human.

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.



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