Video Top Ten Reviews

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 1998.

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 Fifth Element

(Fox, PG)

Bladerunner meets Stargate in a roller coaster, action movie. Bruce Willis stars as a cab driver in the 23rd century who bumps into an alien girl (Milla Jovovich) who holds the key to defending Earth against an approaching alien fleet. Fortunately this film does not take itself too seriously and is awash with SF tropes and imagery. Great fun.

2. Men in Black

(Columbia Tristar, PG)

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones police alien visitors to Earth in a secret government organization. They stumble across an insect-like terrorist bent on causing a galactic incident. A comedy action offering released just prior to Easter 1998 and so its rating score was split between this and next year when it came second: had it been released a month earlier it would have been the top film this year. Itís a romp thatís hugely enjoyable. Recommended.

3. The Lost World

(Universal, PG)

Sequel to Jurassic Park by Michael (Sphere, Westworld, Andromeda Strain) Crichton. Apparently there is a second island which is the place where the original experiments were conducted, developing the technology to resurrect the dinosaurs for the Jurassic Park. A well-equipped team goes in but (surprise) things start to go wrong. Monster mayhem ensues. Essentially this is more of the same but the effects are better.

4. Star Trek: First Contact

(Paramount, PG)

Jean-Luc (Patrick Stewart) Picard and crew help wipe out the last of a Borg task force against Earth. But one Borg ship escapes back into Earthís past to a critical time when the warp star drive was being developed and Earth had its first alien contact. The Enterprise goes in hot pursuit. Abley directed by Jonathan (Commander William Riker) Frakes, this is probably the best Star Trek movie since The Voyage Home and is a good start for the Next Gen team on their first solo outing on the big screen. Elements of all the Star Trek TV series make an appearance, so this is one for Trekies as well as Trekers.

5. Space Jam

Mixture of animated and live action nonsense with Basketball players and Warner Bros. characters. Strictly for American pre-teens.

6. Mars Attacks

(Columbia Tristar, PG)

Pierce Brosnan and an all star cast, including the singer Tom Jones, save the World when an alien horde from Mars attacks. If this film has the look of those bubble gum cards of yester-year, it is not surprising. Those bubble gum cards were its inspiration. Consequently the film very much has a comic book feel to it. The stars ham it up while the production team has great fun with the effects. Great fun nonsense.

7. The Relic

(PolyGram, 18)

Scientists (Penelope Ann Miller and James Whitmore) and a cop (Tom Sizemore) square off against a monster (a sort of gorilla like reptile) in Chicago in this sci fi horror. This sort of says it all.

8. Batman and Robin


This third Batman film sees Robin and Batgirl join the team. Not a patch on the first two Batman movies (excluding the TV series spin-off film). It takes itself far too seriously and the new costumes are completely over the top. Both of these vie with a pathetic presentation of a semi-reasonable plot as reasons to not waste your own money on renting this one. However so many like Batman that no doubt a goodly number had to check it out, hence its high rating in the rental charts.

9. Event Horizon

(Paramount, 18)

After its disappearance seven years ago in 2040 a garbled signal is received from the spaceship Event Horizon. A rescue team is sent to intercept the ship which appears to be deserted. However apparently wherever the ship has been it has picked up something... Starring Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill and Sean Pertwee, this is a science fiction horror that almost, but not quite, matches Alien for its tension.

10. Space Truckers


A comedy action romp in which an astronaut salvage and freight running gets intercepted by pirates who discover that the military android cargo is more than they bargained for. Despite this having a ĎBí movie feel, it is great fun and has one of the best SF sex scenes to rival that with the resistance fighter in Barbarella. The small screen belies the fact that in places the special effects were stunning in the cinema, though elsewhere the props are somewhat shaky.

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

Re-mastered and with special effects-updated out-takes included, the original Star Wars trilogy was released this year. OK. So we are all waiting for the prequel trilogy to be made, the release of which is scheduled for 1999.

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