My Favorite Film Explosions


"Explosions are not comfortable." -- Yevgeny Zamyatin

Happy 4th of July, everyone. It's time for barbecues, beaches, picnics, baseball, and fireworks -- lots of fireworks! Since I am not licensed to provide you, my faithful Fans and Foes, with a legal firework display, I will offer you the next best thing: my list of the greatest movie explosions. I haven't seen Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen yet, but apparently it features the largest explosion in cinematic history. My list doesn't necessarily include the biggest or most pyrotechnic bangs, but rather the explosions that I think were most pivotal and memorable.

Let the explosions begin (and remember, don't try these at home, LOL):

1. Star Wars: A New Hope -- Luke Skywalker blows up the first Death Star in the 1977 blockbuster. Yes, there was another Death Star explosion in Return of the Jedi, but it was basically a rehash of this one (with an unfinished Death Star and Lando Calrissian piloting the Millennium Falcon instead). The original set the tone for other explosions to follow, and it's a climactic thrill to behold -- a giant roman candle set in that galaxy far away where there's glorious sound in space.

2. Independence Day -- The aliens blow up the White House giving Will Smith more motivation to kick their collective extraterrestrial behinds. Filmmakers Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich have blown up a lot of other things in their movies, but this was the iconic moment that made audiences take notice and basically started the trend of other imitators trying to find other global landmarks to incinerate for the sake of popcorn movie entertainment.

3. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock -- Captain Kirk and crew sacrifice the U.S.S. Enterprise, self-destructing it in a blaze of glory. In a movie that also featured the destruction of the entire Genesis Planet, blowing up a starship seems like small potatoes, but this was one of the key explosions of all time. The Enterprise isn't just a ship, it's like another character. As the characters watched its fiery remains burn through the atmosphere, it was sad but also highly symbolic -- like a Phoenix, we knew there would be another Enterprise someday, but the original ship that took them through their five year mission and the first few movie adventures was now gone, thanks to one of the best "death scenes" for a vehicle ever filmed.

4. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad -- A fireworks factory explodes in spectacular fashion and Lt. Frank Drebin tries to convince the gawking crowd to "move on, there's nothing to see here." Pure, comic genius!

5. Terminator 2: Judgment Day -- Out of the flames of a big tank explosion walks the T1000 in his liquid metal form, unharmed and seemingly unstoppable. It's one of the best moments in an amazing movie full of terrific moments.

6. Heathers -- Christian Slater blows himself up after failing to blow up the school, and Winona Ryder uses the flames from the blast to light a cigarette. This is one of the best written movies ever.

7. Predator -- Arnold Schwartzenegger thinks he has the alien hunter beaten but soon discovers that the Predator has one more trick up his sleeve -- a thermo-nuclear device! Which of course explodes!

8. Superman: The Movie -- Planet Krypton explodes in a ballet of embers. Yes, it owes a lot to Star Wars' destruction of the Death Star, but in this case, this is at the beginning of the movie, setting up one of the greatest superhero movies of all time.

9. Jaws -- The only way for Roy Scheider to kill the deadly Great White Shark that's been terrorizing the town of Amity is to blow it to smithereens. This is the summer movie that arguably started it all.

10. The Bridge Over the River Kwai -- The bridge blows up. Enough said.

So that's my list of the best. Not just the eye candy stunts to fulfill the screenwriters need for a big Third Act explosion, but explosions that served a storytelling purpose.

Comments

Peter said…
Hey Nick, happy 4th of July! May you have many more explosions this year. :)
Jeff Singer said…
I like blowed ups, too.
I like your list, but I can't think of any off the top of my head.
I esp. like Naked Gun, one of my all time favorite films. "Like a midget at a urinal, I had to keep on my toes."
Nick said…
Thanks, Peter!

And thanks, Jeff. Oe reason you probably can't think of other movies to add to the list is because a lot of big movie explosions nowadays are so generic -- they're all the same and they usually don't serve much of a purpose except to look cool.