Lately you can't turn on the TV or check out a billboard without seeing the major-league destruction of 'Battle: Los Angeles.' The blockbuster alien invasion movie is the ultimate in disaster porn: fire, explosions, bridges and highways collapsing, and our hero Aaron Eckhart fighting back on the front lines.
Annihilating the 101 Freeway, demolishing the Capitol Records Building, laying waste to Venice Beach -- it's the visual equivalent of a pot of espresso with a Red Bull chaser. Of course, this is nothing new; destroying national landmarks and infrastructure is a Hollywood tradition, and the producers of 'Battle: Los Angeles' have these films to thank for paving the way -- or at least blowing it up.
(WARNING: MASS DESTRUCTION -- AND SPOILERS -- AHEAD!)
'Independence Day' (1996)
The aliens have landed, with a really bad attitude. Emmerich's 1996 blockbuster laid waste to downtown Los Angeles, the White House and New York again. But the images that stuck were the White House being pulverized and the Empire State Building getting smashed to smithereens. A few years later, of course, pictures of New York skyscrapers collapsing were no longer entertainment.
'Deep Impact' (1998)
Poor New York City takes it on the chin again, this time from a tidal wave caused by a deadly meteor strike. Even worse, it looks like Elijah Wood and Leelee Sobieski are never going to get busy. And you'd think having Morgan Freeman as President might save everyone, but noooooo ...
Whoa, déjà vu! This time NYC is getting pelted with a fiery meteor shower-and as if traffic wasn't bad enough, Midtown is particularly hard hit. Luckily, NASA has an extra Space Shuttle to try to blow apart the space rock before it hits, Bruce Willis has nothing better to do, and Aerosmith has a spare power ballad for the soundtrack.
'The Day After Tomorrow' (2004)
It's bad enough that Dennis Quaid has to trudge through an Arctic-type snowstorm, but Manhattan (apparently Emmerich's favorite target) really gets the worst of it with a tsunami. Luckily, we learn that the safest place after a tidal wave is in the nearest library. And you thought those tall staircases were just for show?
Nicolas Cage opens up a time capsule to find out that dire, apocalyptic events are about to unfold. How bad? How about the entire Earth catching fire? Let's see them write around that for the sequel!
'Planet of the Apes' (1968)
Just look what those "damn dirty apes" have done -- they've destroyed everything! One of sci-fi's iconic images is the 1968 classic's final shot, where Charlton Heston discovers the remains of the Statue of Liberty lying crumpled on a beach. Why, it's enough to scare a guy into working for a powerful gun-rights organization.
'War of the Worlds' (2005)
We all know it's not a Tom Cruise movie unless he gets to sprint at least once. And in this case, fleeing from aliens is as good a reason as any -- especially when they're turning people into dust and bringing down this Bayonne bridge. Hmm, destroying Bayonne? Insert your own New Jersey joke.
The whole world isn't ending, but parts of Oklahoma seem to be close to it. Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt are chasing the storms across the plains, and somehow rekindling their marriage. We don't recommend this therapy for all couples.
'The Core' (2003)
The earth's inner core has stopped spinning. I hate when that happens. And the British like it even less when all the pigeons in Trafalgar Square start whipping into things.
A rogue wave has capsized the titular ocean liner, trapping Josh Lucas, Richard Dreyfuss, and Kurt Russell below the waves. We're still waiting for the sequel, 'Poseidon 2: The Refund.'
The big lizard is back in this remake of the Japanese classic. This time Matthew Broderick plays the scientist trying to reel him in with a mountain of fish. You can almost hear him singing, "I want to be a producer ..."
'The Towering Inferno' (1974)
Can you believe the world's tallest skyscraper is on fire? Can you believe they got Paul Newman and Steve McQueen to sign on for this? Can you believe it was nominated for Best Picture? Can you believe how well that uniform fits O.J. Simpson?
'King Kong' (1933)
Before the famous Empire State Building final, it's worth remembering that Kong tore up an elevated train and ticked off hundreds of commuters. No wonder they sent planes after him--you can't mess with our infrastructure and get away with it!