Science Fiction & Fantastic Film

Video/DVD Top Ten Reviews - 2003

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 2003.

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 consequently below this top ten we have included a few other notables worth checking out as well some warnings-to-avoid. Standby with the pop corn, here we go...


This year a slight break from the usual pattern has manifested itself in our survey. Usually only the top 5 in the top 10 are worth hiring out. This year though, virtually all of them have something to offer (or at least some redeeming feature) that makes them worth hiring. Also, again this year, we have noted others that slipped through the top ten that we think you might like to rent for the night (see towards the bottom of the page).

1. Minority Report

(Fox, 12)

Romping home with nearly twice the score of number '2' in the top ten is the Philip K. Dick classic short story Minority Report. It's streets ahead of the pack. Not surprising really with the combination of a brilliant writer and director: the latter being Steven Spielberg. When a detective (played by Tom Cruise), as part of a future police force that can predict crimes before they happen, is himself precogged to commit a crime, he goes on the run. As with all Dick adaptations a lot fails to make the screen. Nonetheless this is a 'must view' film.


2. AI: Artificial Intelligence

(Warner, 12)

Loosely based on the Brian Aldiss story, Ian Watson's screenplay, formerly for the late Stanley Kubrik, is brought to life by Steven Spielberg's second entry in this year's top ten. In the near future robots are found to be resource friendly instruments. However the latest model is programmed to have human-like emotions. And so when two parents relinquish their ill son to suspended animation, until a cure for his disease is found, they are set to take part in a product trial, that of a life-like robotic child that can almost love. Problems begin when a cure is found for the real so and he returns home. Suddenly there is no room for the robo-kid. Left to roam the World, he seeks a way to become human. In the far future he finally meets his destiny.


3. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

(Warner, 12)

All right, so it's not SF, but we know that a lot of you like classic fantasy (as do we) and this film was nominated for a Hugo. This second film in the trilogy delivers, though tends to focus on the lead up to the big battle and, of course, the confrontation itself. Did hugely well at the box office. You've read the book. Enough said.


4. Ice Age

(Fox, PG)

One strictly for the kids. This animation features the animals that abounded in the ice age. Awwwww.


5. Men in Black II

(Columbia Tri-Star, PG)

A bit of a surprise this one. For while the original Men I Black was hugely fun with some originality to the plot, this offering is little more than more of the same. Still, if you liked the first one then you wont lose much by checking out this one.


6. Blade II

(Newline Cinema, 18)

The modern vampire-hunting Blade is back in this science fantasy. Based on the comic character of the same name. Traditional action vampire fare.


7. Jeepers Creeprs

(Helikon SK, 15)

A quarrelsome brother and sister are driving across the US when an old van overtakes them. Silly them, they follow after thinking they see a body being dumped. And then they stumble on the monster...


8. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

(Warner, PG)

This first outing for Potter on the big screen was a huge success based on the equally hugely successful Rowling books - but you knew that!. The same old story. Boy discovers magic. Goes to school for wizards and witches. Battles evil. Grows up a little (but not too much so as not to ruin sequel potential).


9. Mothman

(Hekon SK, 12)

Based on the Fortean myth (with some hype in those circles), a man finds himself in a town with no memory of how he got there. But is there a 'moth man'?


10. Reign of Fire

(Touchstone, 16)

In the near future dragons are discovered to be real and have woken up. Humanity fights back and appears to be winning despite huge losses and ruined cities. Now it's a question of the final push.

And the worthies that slipped through the net...

Eight Legged Freaks (Warner, 12). A toxic waste dump mutates spiders into giants and which then terrorise the local town. This comedy action, 'b' horror is hugely enjoyable.

28 Days Later (Fox, 18). Another modern 'B' movie. Simple but spectacular effects as a man wakes in hospital to find central London deserted. A designer plague has been released by animal rights activists. The plague turns people into contagious zombie types. Great drama. Comes highly recommended from the Festival of Fantastic Films folk.

Spiderman (Columbia, 12). The marvel comic book character is brought to life in a reasonably well-done way that certainly got results at the box office. (Spiderman 2 should be better as they had some money problems on this offering, but now that they know there is a market...)

Teenage Caveman (Columbia Tri-Star, PG). This is actually a remake of the 1958 Corman movie, and is not what you think. Set in a post-apocolyptic future (which was the end twist of the original) teenagers have to survive in a ruined world where tribal codes and ethics are the law. This new version has had quite a warm reception from genre film buffs, notwithstanding the teen sex slant (or perhaps because of it?).

The Time Machine the 2001 re-make of the Wells classic. Not at all as faithful as the George Pal version (probably due to political correctness reasons as the time machine novel was about the evolution of the social classes). This is strange as the director is Wells' grandson. Still, despite the changes, the film works on its own level and is quite competently done even if it will not go down as a classic genre offering. The effects are good too.


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