Blowing Up SciFi: Notable Explosions in Cinema

Other Worlds Film Festival is excited to announce the first feature for its Orbiter Year-Round Series in 2019: the Texas premiere of the SciFi action comedy AXCELLERATOR.

“Axcellerator conjures up the pure joy of the action cinema of the 80s,” says Bears Rebecca Fonté, OW Founder and Artistic Director, “like the unsuspected gem you discovered on the shelves of the video store. Sam J. Jones is no longer out to “save everyone of us,” and instead takes on all comers as a ruthless gun-for-hire. Plus, this probably has the most explosions of any film we’ve ever shown.”

With this in mind, Other Worlds Outreach Director Tessa Morrison has conjured up an explosive list of big SciFi bangs.

The special screening of AXCELLERATOR takes place on Wednesday, June 26 (7:30pm) at Galaxy Highland 10 Theatre, the new (and old) home of Other Worlds Film Festival. Director David Giancola will be in attendance and will do a Q&A after the film. Get your tickets here.

star wars alderaan.jpg

Originally, I was going to call this post "Top <insert number> Explosions in SciFi" but thought better of it. Because how do you judge the best? Is it the biggest bang? Most important to plot? Best payoff emotionally? Most dangerous to pull off in real life? Best CGI effects created? How deeply it is ingrained into our pop culture? Instead, I’ll discuss some of the most dynamite scenes in SciFi that blew up our imagination, in no particular order. (Most of these films are over 20 years old and I shouldn't worry about people crying about spoilers, but we live in a society where people blame me for their not watching classics. So, here is a warning for potential explosive spoilers ahead).


"I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced." The full force of the Death Star was demonstrated on the poor planet of Alderaan and while that is mighty impressive, the Death Star I itself being blown up is still one of the most iconic, copied, and parodied explosions. This scene has been updated and revised over the years with some versions having a vertical ring added onto the explosion. Ages later people still stood up and applauded for this scene when A New Hope came back to theaters for George Lucas' remastered versions.


One of my favorite gifs to use when receiving mind blowing news is plucked from this film. If you've watched this film then you know the scene I am talking about. A product of much trial and error, but eventually they got the wanted effect when special effects supervisor Gary Zeller laid on the ground out of sight shooting a dummy head filled with latex scraps, wax, and leftover burgers. Yummy.

ALIENS (1986)

"Punch it Bishop!" Says Ripley to one of my favorite androids as they escape the colony and atmosphere processing station on LV-426 which is quickly destroyed in a nuclear blast (it's the only way to be sure). Word is that this explosion effect was made using a 100W bulb on a dimmer inside of a cotton ball sculpture pushed up by hand.


Sara Connor's dream sequence/vision to a possible future where a nuclear explosion's shockwave completely destroys the human race was and is still one of the most harrowing scenes in cinematic history. This was one of the most violent films of its time and Sara Connor is helplessly screaming while holding onto the fence to a school playground as children and mothers are burnt to a cinder and then disintegrate. Still haunts me.



This film has multiple iconic explosions. The image of multiple world monuments being destroyed and then the self-sacrificing hero with the ridiculous one-liner definitely won itself a place lodged into our pop culture consciousness. Roland Emmerich's INDEPENDENCE DAY brags around 210 explosions, that's up there with most Michael Bays films, which range around 300-500.

5TH ELEMENT (1997)

I love this movie regardless of my theory that Luc Besson basically ripped off HEAVY METAL. Seriously watch them back to back and you'll see what I am talking about. So, the explosion at Fhloston Paradise was the largest indoor explosion ever filmed and the flames nearly got out of control. Now that's a Big Bada Boom!


While not a particularly large explosion compared to the planet shattering ones listed above, this one really packs a punch due to the "reality" altering effect from being unplanned in the programming of the Matrix. The helicopter crashing into a skyscraper causes the glass to ripple intensely like water.

What is your favorite explosion in SciFi cinema? Let us know! And get your tickets for the Texas premiere of AXCELLERATOR!