Binge-watching is both the best and the worst way to watch movies. The best because it’s a great way to dive into the cinematic world and live it together with your favorite characters until the very end. At the same time, let’s face it: sitting in front of a TV without moving for hours — or maybe even days — can’t be very good for your body.
However, movie marathons are a part of geek culture, and some of us see it as a badge of honor to watch our favorite franchise in one sitting. If you decide to embark on an adventure that is a movie marathon, use the MakeUseOf guide to binge-watching (and the Force).
We’ve compiled a list of the geekiest movie marathons that you absolutely have to watch at least once (no matter how painful it may be). We’ll start with the easy options for beginners before progressing onto the ones that can tire out even the most experienced cinephile.
1. The Matrix
Length: 7 hours.
Themes: Earth domination, robots, future, dystopia.
There are probably very few blue pills nowadays who are not familiar with The Matrix universe. Everyone will have either seen these movies or heard the references. Of course, the only right way to do The Matrix is to marathon the whole trilogy in one go. Luckily, it’s not going to take more than 7 hours of your time to do so, making it a perfect weekend watch.
Fans of The Matrix Trilogy may want to treat themselves to The Animatrix, which adds 1 hour, 42 minutes to the marathon. The Animatrix is a collection of nine short anime movies that provide a deeper insight into the universe. Watch it to find out more about how the original conflict between humanity and the machines started and the way the Matrix itself was created.
2. Mad Max
Length: 7 hours.
Main themes: Future, dystopia, war, societal breakdown, apocalypse.
This is another series of movies focused on the dystopian future and a society wrecked by war, this time within the human world. Our hero here is Max Rockatansky, the hardest man to have ever walked the Earth, who represents the only hope the collapsing society has for a better future.
This franchise will be an excellent watch for the lovers of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, as well as fans of action movies. Both Mad Max 2 and Fury Road have been named in the list of best action films of all time. We wonder if all that car-flipping/-smashing/-crashing action and incredible stunts had anything to do with it!
3. Jurassic Park
Length: 8 hours.
Main themes: Evolution, dinosaurs, artificial intelligence, the connection between past, present, and future.
Watch people attempt to create a theme park of cloned dinosaurs and fail disastrously. Four times. Although that is, in fact, a short summary of this franchise, there’s so much more to these award-winning movies. After all, both Jurassic Park and Jurassic World make it onto the list of the highest-grossing films of all time.
Be ready for plenty of action, but don’t forget to look out for the symbols, metaphors, and not-so-hidden motifs in these movies (like the danger of technology progress in the hands of the greedy and complacent).
4. The Dark Knight
Length: 8 hours.
Themes: Superheroes, chaos vs. order, good vs. evil, anarchy vs. law.
Just under eight hours in length, this trilogy makes another good entry into the world of binge-watching. All because of Christopher Nolan, the director, having done an excellent job linking the movies together. Without the opening credits, these three would almost feel like one really long film.
All of the movies became a success, so you’re hardly setting yourself up for a disappointment when choosing The Dark Knight trilogy as your weekend entertainment. And of course, if you’re a fan of DC and comics in general, this is an absolute must-watch.
5. The Lord of the Rings
Length: 9 hours (Theatrical) / 11 hours (Extended) / 20 hours (if you include The Hobbit trilogy).
Themes: Magic, courage, the corruption of power, immortality, journey, friendship.
Our next choice is The Lord of the Rings, the fantasy movie series for those who feel they have outgrown Harry Potter but aren’t ready to let go of the magic just yet.
This movie marathon takes you from beginner to advanced level binge-watching for a reason. The light version of the Middle Earth gorgeousness takes just over 9 hours. However, the ultimate hardcore LOTR marathon of all the movies’ extended versions and The Hobbit trilogy will take you almost 20 hours. You had better stock up on Lembas bread if you’re going to embark on this adventure.
6. Planet of the Apes
Length: 14 hours.
Themes: Civilization and technology, social constructs, politics, humanity.
Movies: Planet of the Apes (1968), Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970), Escape From the Planet of the Apes (1971), Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972), Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973), Planet of the Apes (Remake) (2001), Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) (Amazon.com, Amazon.ca).
Celebrate the high-concept sci-fi with the epic marathon of all eight Planet of the Apes movies. Especially recommended to those whose exposure to the series so far has been the original movie of 1968 or the Tim Burton remake of 2001.
7. Star Wars
Length: 18 hours.
Themes: Nature vs. technology, good vs. evil, the power of the Force, destiny.
Movies: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999), Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002), Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005), Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977), Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983), Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), Rogue One: A Star Wars Story(2016) (Amazon.com, Amazon.ca).
Naturally, our list wouldn’t be complete without the Star Wars series. With more and more new movies being released, as well as books and video games, it’s hard to stay on track. This infographic should help you make sense of the Star Wars timeline.
There’s a constant debate going on about the best way to watch Star Wars. There’s the release order, the denial order, the machete order, and a few more different variations. Not to worry, young padawan, as we have got your back! We figured out the right order in which to watch Star Wars to make everyone’s life a little easier.
8. Harry Potter
Length: 20 hours.
Themes: Magic, good vs. evil, choice, friendship, love.
Movies: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1 (2010), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2 (2011) (Amazon.com, Amazon.ca).
“Until the very end.”
— J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Harry Potter is the perfect movie series for taking a break from your everyday routine. You can forget about things like jobs, studies, and paying bills, and focus on wondering why you still haven’t received that letter from Hogwarts.
The franchise is a chronicle of the main characters growing up, both in terms of age and maturity. Watching this happen from the beginning to the end only improves the series. You feel the way the atmosphere changes together with the focus of the movies as you go, turning from a somewhat simple and naive story into a colossal battle between good and evil.
9. Star Trek
Length: 25 hours.
Themes: Space exploration, technology, humans and aliens, politics, equal society.
Movies: Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989), Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), Star Trek Generations (1994), Star Trek: First Contact (1996), Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), Star Trek (2009), Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), Star Trek Beyond (2016).
With the series clocking in at over 25 hours, Star Trek is the second longest movie marathon presented in our list. If you’re new to the series, our beginner’s guide to the Star Trek franchise will prepare you for this marathon.
Even though watching it all in one go may be fun, it could also result in serious health issues and a major disappointment in yourself if you don’t manage to finish it. Luckily, the series can be divided into three convenient blocks: The Original Series (the first six films), The Next Generation (Generations to Nemesis), and the J.J. Abrams era (from 2009 on). Plan your watching sessions and breaks accordingly and you shall succeed at beating this no-win scenario.
10. James Bond
Length: 50 hours.
Themes: Espionage, action, politics, power struggle.
Movies: Dr. No (1962), From Russia With Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Live and Let Die (1973), The Man With the Golden Gun (1974), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979), For Your Eyes Only (1981), Octopussy (1983), Never Say Never Again (1983), A View to a Kill (1985), The Living Daylights (1987), Licence to Kill (1989), GoldenEye (1995), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The World Is Not Enough (1999), Die Another Day (2002), Casino Royale (2006), Quantum Of Solace (2008), Skyfall (2012), Spectre (2015).
Ladies and gentlemen, we present to you the crown jewel of our list, the most unbelievably geeky movie marathon of all time: the James Bond franchise. The idea of sitting through all 25 of the James Bond movies, one suit at a time seems painful, if not insane. So, for the sake of your health we recommend being a little more relaxed with the viewing schedule for this one.
Having said that, it is definitely worth doing. With the Bond franchise stretching over 50 years of cinema, and through a vast collection of great gadgets, these movies are ideal if you want to see the progress made within the cinematic world.
Alternatively, you can skip the 50 hours worth of movies and watch the superspy Sterling Archer review every James Bond film. It’s “as delightful as you’d expect”.
For more, check out the best movie recommendation sites.
Now it’s over to you. What’s your experience with binge-watching? Have you attempted any of the movie marathons featured on this list? If so, which ones did you enjoy and which ones did you endure? Please let us know in the comments section below!
Image Credits: Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley/Shutterstock