7 film franchises for your next movie marathon
Stream The Matrix, The Hobbit, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter and more movie collections this winter.
These top-notch film franchises will keep you glued to the screen for weekends at a time. They’re all available to stream on Showmax.
In arguably the most iconic sci-fi film in history, Keanu Reeves teams up with Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Anne Moss to play Neo, Morpheus and Trinity as they take on the criss-cross worlds of The Matrix.
Imagine if everything you knew to be real was a computer programme and even you were part of this giant algorithm – and the machine overlords were determined to kill every last human. This is the world of The Matrix, where artificial intelligence outgrew its creators and started thinking for itself, taking over the world and enslaving humans.
Neo is revealed as “the one”, a man who will fulfil the prophecy and bring an end to the human-robot war. The problem is that Neo doesn’t believe in his abilities as much as Morpheus and Trinity, who give him support and help on his journey in the three movies The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions.
2. Harry Potter
Based on JK Rowling’s book series, the eight-movie franchise cost $1.2 billion to make and raked in over $7 billion at the box office. It follows young Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), an ordinary boy who gets the feeling that something magical is about to happen in his life. And he’s not wrong – with a flick of the wrist and after charging through a brick wall at the train station, Harry finds himself transported to Hogwarts School with wizards and witches.
But it wouldn’t be entertaining if there weren’t evil forces trying to kill Harry and his friends Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) in each instalment. Ranging from dark Dementors who suck out people’s souls, to The One Who Must Not Be Named (that’s evil villain Voldemort, who tried to kill Harry as a baby but only managed to leave a lightning bolt scar on his forehead).
This is perfect for the family to watch together, casting spells on entertainment with each film (Philosopher’s Stone, Chamber Of Secrets, Prisoner Of Azkaban, Goblet Of Fire, Order Of The Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, Deathly Hallows Part 1 and Part 2) – and if you want to find out what your Patronus animal would be, take the Showmax Harry Potter quiz here…
Matt Damon brings Robert Ludlum’s amnesic spy to life in this five-part series, starting with The Bourne Identity as Jason is pulled from the Mediterranean Sea with bullet wounds and no memory of who he is, how he got there or why someone tried to kill him.
It’s not just skop, skiet en donner, though – this is a cerebral action thriller that will have you questioning everything going on, from who Bourne really is, to why so many people fear him. Each film (apart from The Bourne Legacy, which focuses on a whole different agent – Jeremy Renner’s character, Aaron Cross) adds more to the puzzle than it actually answers, with Jason getting help from handlers from his past life including Nicky (Julia Stiles) as he doesn’t run from the people running Operation Treadstone, but rather hunts them down as he searches for answers.
Watch Jason’s films in order – The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum and Jason Bourne, with The Bourne Legacy before or after since Matt and his producers admit that it’s the ugly stepchild in the franchise that everyone tries to forget about.
4. The Hobbit
Ages before The Lord Of The Rings was written, there was The Hobbit trilogy (An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug and The Battle Of The Five Armies). The original novels were partly written in South Africa by JRR Tolkien, who lived in Bloemfontein for a large part of his life, and tell the story of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), a child-sized man known as a Hobbit. He’s the core of this story of myth and fantasy as he goes on a journey with his wizard friend Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and dwarf Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), leader of a dwarf army who is going to reclaim his family’s honour.
Peter Jackson, director of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, was asked to return because the Tolkien family only trusted him to bring the novels to life again. And for good reason – when you realise the scope of the story being told, it made sense to have Peter back because he’s studied the texts from top to bottom and weaves the prequel movies together in gorgeous perfection.
The journey takes Bilbo from his peaceful quiet Shire, across parts of Middle Earth to The Lonely Mountain, where Thorin and his kin plan to take on the gold-hording dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) – and there are loads of adversaries along the way, including humans, orcs, elves and more. This is all the more poignant if you watch Lord Of The Rings afterwards and realise that the dwarf skeletons are the guys in An Unexpected Journey.
In the movies based on the cartoon from the 80s and 90s, teenager Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) discovers that his life is anything but ordinary – he is intertwined in a war that has been waging for thousands of years between the Autobots and Decepticons from the alien planet Cybertronic. They’re giant robots and they’re both searching for The All Spark, a magical cube with the power to restore their planet and heal any injuries that the Transformers may have suffered. And like the theme song, there’s more than meets the eye to the story.
Showmax has four of the five Transformers movies so far (Transformers, Revenge Of The Fallen, Dark of The Moon and Age Of Extinction) and each packs more action than the previous. It’s more than just a quest for the All Spark, though – the Decepticons aren’t happy unless they’re destroying something, whether it’s skyscrapers and the pyramids in Giza, to mankind’s spirit and hope for a better future.
The stories do veer a bit from the original cartoons – the All Spark is central to the feud and once it’s destroyed, there’s no hope to get back to Cybertron. Yet in each of the movies, there’s magically “an ancient prophecy” or loophole that gives the Autobots one last chance to see home… and one last chance for the Decepticon enemies to stop them. There’s also a new cast in Age Of Extinction, with Mark Wahlberg taking over the lead character job as inventor Cade Yeager, who sees his family dragged into the feud as the race to reclaim “seeds” intensifies – the seeds are ancient pods sent to Earth by “The Creators” that can terraform the planet back into Cybertron.
The action, storyline and incredible CGI makes the Transformers franchise popular with fans of all ages – the franchise has brought in almost 500% profits on its $1 billion budget and more movies are on the way.
Looking for a little light-hearted humour and fun-tertainment for the kids? The Madagascar animated trilogy (Madagascar, Escape 2 Africa, Europe’s Most Wanted) is packed with humour, adventure, zany characters and more famous actors voicing the characters than you realise. Plus, the storylines are pretty awesome – three animal friends from New York escape and land on the island of Madagascar. And that’s where the trouble starts…
Chris Rock (Marty the zebra), Ben Stiller (Alex the lion), Jada Pinkett Smith (Gloria the hippo) and David Schwimmer (Melman the giraffe) go on an adventure in the first movie when Alex gets bored with his life and feels his animalistic urges taking over. Breaking out of the zoo, Alex and his three friends land up on a ship headed for Africa to a wildlife preserve in Kenya. Except they’re knocked overboard and wash up on Madagascar, filled with crazy lemurs led by buffoonish King Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen). Their adventure doesn’t stop there, because the four fab friends want to get back to New York when they realise how good they had it…
In the sequel movie, the friends rebuild a crashed plane and try to fly back to NYC (long story short, the crazy penguins used up all the ship fuel, so their only hope is flying back)… except they got help from the lemurs and the plane doesn’t look like it could fly across the veld, let alone the world. Instead of New York, the quartet land in continental Africa and Alex discovers that he’s more than just “king of the jungle” as a lion – he’s actual royalty.
The third film follows on but it’s got a whole new spin – the four buddies end up in a travelling circus as they cross Europe to get back home. It’s not just performing as talent that’s going to be a problem (because they don’t really have talents) – an evil animal control officer is hunting them down and wants the foursome locked behind bars in a zoo as soon as possible. The new journey did better than anyone expected – it grossed over $600 million profit over the $150 million budget and helped launch the King Julien TV series and Penguins Of Madagascar spin-off movie.
It’s one of the best-known sci-fi fantasy franchises, based on one novel by Michael Crichton, and has spawned a multi-billion dollar franchise that includes LEGO movies and toys – and it’s in the middle of a franchise reboot.
It all starts with Dr Allen Grant (Sam Neill) in Jurassic Park, an archaeologist hired to approve a theme park where scientists have brought dinosaurs back to life using genetically engineered DNA. The weekend on the South American island paradise quickly turns into a nightmare when the dinos run wild and start chomping everyone in sight.
That’s pretty much the premise of The Lost World and Jurassic Park 3. In the former, Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) leads a rescue mission to the secret island where the dinos were grown when his girlfriend Dr Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore) is investigating the surviving dinosaurs in their natural habitat when politicians debate destroying the island. In the third movie, Allen Grant is back and not of his own free will: he’s tricked by a couple into saving their son who disappeared on an island filled with dinosaurs during a birthday adventure. And what makes it worse for Dr Grant is that the velociraptors haven’t just thrived, they’ve developed and are more intelligent and therefore more dangerous than ever. Not to mention the fact that they don’t like humans and are very, very hangry little beasties…
Jurassic World is the first of the reboot movies and centres on Owen Grady, a Navy vet who specialises in animal behaviour. He’s trained raptors to respond to commands but discovers that his bosses have been lying to him when their new attraction – a hybrid dino – breaks free and eats anything in its path as she discovers that she’s top of the food chain on the island.
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