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Top List Thursdays – Top ten explosions

4 min read

Movies can have a profound effect on people. They can influence you, move you, change you and inspire you. They can also blow s$%t up real good, unlike those other mediums available today. Could Salvador Dali paint an explosion so fierce, that a hospital would report a shock-wave being born nine months later?

No, I didn’t think so. Here’s ten of the best boomers in Hollywood history.

The Dark Knight

You’ve got to hand it to director Christopher Nolan. If he can do something for real, he’ll pursue the idea with the passion of a madman, and to hell with his cast being placed in mortal danger! And no scene better summarised the anarchic mindset of the Joker than the one in which he blew up an entire hospital. An abandoned factory in reality, the scene cost millions to do, and required the late Heath Ledger to not even look at the magnificent explosion as he rode away in a bus, staying completely in character.

Now that’s acting.

Tropic Thunder

You know what’s fantastic about this scene in the Ben Stiller directed film? It’s that it perfectly captures just how difficult it is to pull off a great explosion in the midst of a movie shoot, on a set crawling cast and crew. Summed up brilliantly by Danny MacBride’s pyromaniac glee may have been unplanned in the fictional script, but it went off without a hitch in the end product to the tune of some orgasmic glee and one-liners.

V for Vendetta

Sometimes, an explosion needs more than just a few moments to sink in, and some hushed awe from the cast. It needs some pepper, some well timed music. And seeing the British parliament destroyed to the tune of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture is just well choreographed symphony of destruction.

Not to mention how happy it made certain local people here who happen to hold a century-old grudge against our former tea-drinking lords and masters.

Con Air


Cool guys don’t look at explosions, and when it comes to John Malkovich’s Cyrus “The Virus” Grissom, that goes double. Surrounded by startled and panicking murderers, rapists and thieves when he sets a disguised DEA agent on explosive fire, Cyrus takes things a step further by turning the mans last syllables into a one-word send-off with style and panache.

And that damn bunny should have been next.


Man, real estate in Japan should be cheap, at the rate that it goes through monster attacks and psychic explosions. Set at the beginning of the film, the black explosion characterises the fear of a new generation of delinquent in the ruins of that country, and it does so by remaining completely muted and letting the visuals speak for themselves in this classic 1988 animated film.

Independence Day

Quite simply the biggest explosion on this list, it’s amazing that even after 17 years the flames and shock-waves generated by this classic blockbuster remain impressive to this day. Starting with a blast heard around the world, culminating in the destruction of several iconic landmarks and cities, mankind was in for the fight of their lifetime by the time the fires had died down.

Dr Strangelove

Sometimes, it’s not the explosion itself, but the delivery that makes it worthwhile. Clearly not worrying about the bomb, and most likely overjoyed with glee that he’s about to murder a load of those pesky commies, Major Kong rides a nuke deep into enemy territory to the tune of some Vera Lynn as the world descends into some mutually assured destruction.

Die Hard


Action movies are a different deal these days. With cameramen having epelictic fits whenever the hero does anything from throwing a punch to wiping his ass, it’s clear that realism has taken precedence over style and well timed witty retorts. But back in 1988, John McClane kicked things off with a bang (Ha!), when he decided to test the stability of a building by throwing a chair with explosives down an elevator shaft, taking out an entire floor of danger.

Geronimo motherf$%#r indeed.

The bridge on the River Kwai

An explosion doesn’t have to be complicated to be successful. But in the POW flick The Bridge on the River Kwai, the destruction of that bridge sums up and symbolises that film perfectly, as Obi-Wan Kenobi himself remarks on the entire madness and chaos that is caused by its destruction.

“Oh my god, what have I done” Sir Alec Guinness remarks. Given us a final scene that truly pays off, that’s what.

Michael Bay’s career

Having a list of explosions and not including Michael Bay is the equivalent of having a WWE list of worst gimmicks ever and excluding Doink the clown. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Michael Bay knows how to make the most mundane scenes beautiful. But he’ll always be known for the best explosions in the industry, so sit back, watch at sunset and play some Aerosmith in the background, because this clip is a pyromaniac dream of destruction and flames.

Last Updated: June 20, 2013


  1. Great list. I’d add the X-Files building explosion, the final explosion in Blown Away, the underground nuke in Broken Arrow, the explosion in Lethal Weapon 2 and the one in Predator. Btw, the bit where the Joker pokes at the detonator after the first series of explosions was apparently improvised by Ledger.


    • Admiral Chief Groot Wors

      June 20, 2013 at 15:22

      hehe, just saw your comment now, great minds and all


      • James Francis

        June 21, 2013 at 08:57

        The way that ground rippled was awesome. I always thought that was all bull, then I saw slow-mo footage of a large explosion. And then Travolta kills a man with a flashlight. Ah, John Woo, why aren’t you making more such awesome films?


        • Admiral Chief Groot Wors

          June 21, 2013 at 09:02

          Because he starting following a cult


  2. Skyblue

    June 20, 2013 at 15:06

    Lol @ Every single Michael Bay explosion
    Seriously though, I think you need to look at the True Lies bridge explosion scene, absolutely epic and no FX used to create it.


  3. Admiral Chief Groot Wors

    June 20, 2013 at 15:20

    Fun fact, Heath Ledger improvised that scene as the explosion WAS actually delayed hahahah, man what a trooper!


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