After 22 years and two sequels, could the rebooted Jurassic series capture the magic of the groundbreaking original, which took audiences on a reptilian rollercoaster ride and surpassed $1 billion in ticket sales? Jurassic World and its new breed of computer-generated scaly stars certainly gave it a very good go.
Steven Spielberg returned to executive produce the long-awaited instalment (we last saw the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park III back in 2001).
The remote Isla Nubla now has a huge dinosaur theme park, complete with a baby dinosaur petting zoo, presided over by the aloof operations manager, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard).
With visitor numbers declining, a new attraction is needed. Geneticist Dr Wu (B D Wong) obliges, cooking up a new genetically modified monster in his lab. When his creation, the giant Indominus Rex, escapes all hell breaks loose.
Step forward Chris Pratt – the hunky lead in Guardians of the Galaxy – who has formed a sort of emotional bond with the four Velociraptors he has been training at the park.
While it might not be able to match the first film for inventiveness, it’s hugely entertaining with plenty of action and even a dash humour here and there.
It’s wonderful to see the raptors back on screen and T-Rex even puts in a cameo appearance. The ending is left open, so clearly we haven’t heard the last of the dinosaurs yet.
J J Abrams and the team at Lucasfilm may have left it late in the year to make their contribution to film history, but space operas really don’t get more epic than this. The daddy is back in town.
After changing the way we look at sci-fi forever when A New Hope came out in 1977, the Star Wars franchise went through a disappointing prequel trilogy before Luke (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and a host of favourites reappeared on the big screen, admittedly sporting a few more grey hairs.
This time, the story follows newcomer Rey (Daisy Ridley), a scavenger whose fate becomes entwined with former stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega), and the Resistance, an organisation fighting against Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the sinister First Order, who are looking to finish what Darth Vader and The Empire started and eliminate Luke Skywalker.
Okay, so the plot might be formulaic to an extent, borrowing and recycling elements from its predecessors but the fact is, it’s Star Wars. It’s a grower and the prospect of another two films to complete one of the world’s most popular franchises is mouthwatering.
It’s been another year dominated by sequels and reboots, but in amongst all this, there have been a few unexpected hits as well. The Martian pitted Matt Damon against the elements and all odds as he made a bid to survive amid the desolate landscape of the Red Planet, Michael Keaton put in a career-defining performance in Birdman, a film that swept the awards scene, picking up more than 100 accolades, and Ex Machina asked understated questions about the morality of research into artificial intelligence.
We are within touching distance of a new year and at first glance, 2016 is already shaping up to be an interesting year when it comes to movies. Both Marvel and DC will raise the stakes in their super hero films, with the choicest offerings looking like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War. Meanwhile, Finding Dory and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (a Harry Potter spin off) will already have fans feverish with excitement.
Jurassic World $1,668,984,926
The world was hit with a wave of dinosaur-based nostalgia with Jurassic World capturing the magic and wonder of Spielberg’s 1993 classic. Two decades after the events of the original, John Hammond’s dream of a fully functioning dino theme park has been realised, only for chaos to be rained down at the hands – or rather jaws – of the Indominus Rex, a giant hybrid dinosaur that has escaped its enclosure.
Furious 7 $1,515,047,671
Coming as a fitting tribute to Paul Walker, who died tragically during filming in 2013, the seventh instalment in the mammoth motor franchise sees Dom (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Connor (Walker) and the rest of the gang back together on the trail of Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), a rogue solider seeking vengeance. Furious 7 took the set pieces to a new level with cars parachuting out of planes and jumping between skyscrapers in Abu Dhabi.
Avengers: Age of Ultron $1,405,035,767
Marvel’s biggest and baddest team of super heroes returned to screens after an absence of three years, this time battling an artificial intelligence gone rogue in the form of Ultron. Plenty of new faces were added to the heroic roster and all the signs point towards a juicy culmination of events when Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 and Part 2 hit screens in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
The loveable little yellow creations were given their very own full-length feature and fans around the world went wild, propelling Minions to the position of the second highest grossing animated film of all time, behind Frozen. The film charts the story of minionkind on its journey to service under Gru, via ill-fated masters including T-Rex and Napoleon.
Inside Out $851,633,930
Proving that the voices inside your head are all real, Inside Out was one of the most original concepts of the year and fully deserves its status in the top five. Joy, fear, anger and disgust all vie for control within the head of Riley Anderson (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias), an 11-year-old girl struggling to deal with the trauma of being uprooted from her life in the Midwest and forced to make a new one in San Francisco.
Despite being initially touted as one of the most immersive space operas since Star Wars, Jupiter Ascending failed to live up to the hype as it attempted to cram way too much into a single two-hour film. The end result was an incoherent plot and estimated losses of $87,056,139, putting it at 16th on the list of biggest box office bombs in history.
Rock the Kasbah
An ageing Bill Murray stars in this weak comedy, proving that even the most hilarious actors can be awful when given the right – or more accurately, wrong – material. Murray plays a low-level music promoter let loose in Afghanistan in a film that is more annoying than entertaining and ultimately tanked at the box office.
Jem and the Holograms
After stripping away all but a passing reference to the 80s television series on which it is based, Jem and the Holograms succeeded in alienating die hard fans while also pushing younger generations away with a badly thought out concept.
Monsters: Dark Continent
Its predecessor was a low budget sleeping success, enhanced by the suggestion of threat as opposed to in-your-face spectacle. The sequel got just about everything wrong, going all U S of A on the titular monsters, transporting them to the Middle East and throwing lots of bombs and firepower at them.