Great Explosions

Out of commiseration for Mike's feelings of deprivation, I have compiled a small list of great explosions, some from television shows and some from movies:

  • CSI: When the lab blows up ("Play With Fire") and when the garage blows up on CSI ("Down the Drain") because of the editing and unexpected nature of both events.  
  • The high school blowing up in Buffy because it is so gosh-darn thematically perfect.
  • The rocket launcher sequence in Buffy ("Innocence") because it is so gosh-darn dramatic. (You go, girl!)
  • The opening sequence in Numb3rs' "Burn Rate" for the editing and music ("Hard to Concentrate" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers). This episode also has a good non-explosion scene when the Bomb Squad uses a remote control robot to retrieve and "blow up" a bomb. 
  • The season finale of Season 1 Leverage (Part 1) right after Alec says, "Sterling, you're in my house. Get out of my house."
  • The exploding gas station (I had to have one!) in X-Files' "Dreamland" and "Dreamland II." A Season 6 episode combo, "Dreamland" combines good story with a strong Mulder-Scully relationship without losing X-Files' classic dreamy feel (plus Michael McKean is fantastic).  The exploding/non-exploding gas station is an important clue. 
  • All the explosions in Die Hard because, well, it's Die Hard (and for the line, "We're gonna need some more FBI guys"). 
  • The exploding submarine in Hunt for Red October since it is such a strong pay-off/resolution to a fairly complex set of variables (plus the pay-off lasts right to the end: "You've lost another submarine?"). 
Non-Explosions (the bomb might go off but doesn't which can be just as dramatic as an explosion):
  • Two tense non-explosions: the mailed package in Criminal Minds' "Won't Get Fooled Again" which the little girl holds until the Bomb Squad shows up plus the mailed package. 
  • Nero Wolfe's "Murder is Corny" which Nero Wolfe anticipates and prevents exploding by calling the Bomb Squad (what can I say: I really like to watch professionals follow procedure).  
Unimpressive Explosions:
  • I hate to say it since I love Star Trek but watching ships explode in space almost bores me senseless. Wrath of Khan is an exception since the entire end sequence--including explosion--is so well-done, but I am including Spock's death and the creation of a new planet in that sequence. 
Exceptions to Unimpressive Explosions:
  • Stargate SG-1 explosions--even in space--are generally quite fun. ("More! More!")
  • The FIRST (1977) destruction of the Death Star, an example of how old non-digital technology trumps new digital technology through sheer good story-telling.
My conclusion: as with car chases, context is everything when it comes to explosions. And thematic pay-offs help underscore the awesomeness of an explosion tremendously. Lots of things blow up in the Die Hard movies but few of the later explosions equal John McCain's desperate attempt to stop the robbers by pushing the computer bomb down the elevator shaft.

If it is going to go off, it should go off with a "bang"!

1 comment:

Mike Cherniske said...

When it comes to explosions, I love them if they make sense. Michael Bay "explosions as plot points" doesn't really work for me.