Do you love LA? Or, as it seems many filmmakers have, do you harbor some latent feelings of anger and aggression toward the city of angels? It’s kind of impressive just how often Los Angeles gets destroyed on film.
If you happen to be in the mood to see LA get reduced to rubble, we’ve rounded up (in no particular order) a list of the best films with the hottest stars in which the city is demolished. We’ve tried to give you a good selection of agents of destruction, from monsters to natural disasters. So here you go; have a great, totally obliterated film fest!
- San Andreas (2015)
Star Power: This big-budget epic adventure has Dwayne Johnson, the mom from Spy Kids/The Haunting of Hill House and a small part for Paul Giamatti.
Agent of Destruction: Earthquakes. Big, terrible earthquakes that pulverize LA.
Feel Good Moment: The Rock’s reuniting with his ex-wife and the moment they save their daughter together.
Was It Any Good?: The Tomatometer on Rotten Tomatoes gives this one a 51%. Not terrible, but not great. Fun, watchable, predictable mayhem.
2. Independence Day (1996)
Star Power: This one has a hugely entertaining cast, including Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Harry Connick Jr. and Bill Pullman.
Agent of Destruction: Aliens. Nasty aliens in big ships that want to steal our resources. The ships have massive weapons that can destroy whole buildings (like the US Bank Tower, which is exploded with malice in this film).
Feel Good Moment: Bill Pullman’s speech as president of the United States rallying his troops after the death of his wife and before jumping in a fighter jet to go fight with the guys. He’s the president of our Hollywood dreams.
Is It Any Good?: If you’re looking for a movie where LA gets blown up real good AND has good critic reviews, this one may be for you. It scores certified fresh at 64% on the Tomatometer.
3. The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
Star Power: This one has the ever-likable Dennis Quaid and a very young Jake Gyllenhaal playing his son and Sela Ward his estranged wife.
Agent of Destruction: Heavy weather in the form of a whole snakes-pit of tornados. To be fair, the rest of the planet gets destroyed in this one too, and the plot mainly happens on the east coast.
Feel Good Moment: The easy choice is the reunion of Quaid, who successfully rescues his estranged son from the deep freeze, but we will always be moved by Sela Ward’s physician character staying behind with a young cancer patient as the rest of the hospital is evacuated.
Is It Any Good?: Well, the special effects are good! Most critics found it to be both unbearably cliched and at the same time far-fetched. A “ludicrous popcorn thiller” is the consensus with 44% on RT.
4. Zombieland (2009)
Star power: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin…and a super-famous (and delightful) star cameo that we won’t ruin for you if you haven’t seen it. Really, the cast is reason enough to watch this one.
Agent of Destruction: Zombies. Now to be fair, the zombies don’t destroy the city infrastructure in the way that the aliens or earthquakes do, but it’s still apocalyptic.
Feel Good Moment: When Woody Harrelson’s character finally gets to eat a twinkie. (You’ll understand when you watch it.)
Is It Any Good?: Oh heck yes. This is possibly the most entertaining movie on this list, though it skates the premise by not showing the actual CITY of Los Angeles completely destroyed. It’s scary, funny and features some great performances. 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. Beloved by critics and fans alike.
5. Speed (1994)
Star Power: This one is also jam-packed with stars: Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Sandra Bullock, Jeff Daniels. What else could you ask for?
Agent of Destruction: Bombs made by a mad bomber. This movie takes place on a selection of LA’s moving vehicles, and all are either bombed or wired to blow. Many parts of LA are destroyed in this movie by many bombs.
Feel Good Moment: As Bullock is trapped, handcuffed on one last doomed moving vehicle, Reeves’ character has a chance to jump off and save himself, but (of course) he chooses to stay with her and face the danger.
Is It Any Good?: Why yes, actually. It’s inventive (if silly), exciting, well done and leaves you wondering right up until the end. Critics and fans alike loved it, it has 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and it helped make Keanu Reeves’ action career.
So snuggle up, get some popcorn, and watch LA get destroyed!