Crashes, smashes, and destruction sequences in science fiction movies have gotten a lot more spectacular over the years, even if our storytelling hasn't. When the Death Star blew up in Star Wars, it was sort of like a big pop and then it was gone. These days you have shots of flaming debris, screaming victims, and radiating spherical explosions that can drag out an action scene for eons. Even in movies where the plot doesn't make sense, the acting is hammy, and you don't really care whether the characters live or die, a good crash sequence can rouse the audience from their boredom and at least engage their animal instincts. Here's our list of the five best crashes in modern day scifi — with beautiful video carnage.
- Back to the Future 3: The final action sequence in this movie has not one, but two spectacular train crashes. First, back in 1885 as the Delorean gets pushed up to 88 miles per hour, the locomotive takes a header into the ravine and its boiler explodes, kicking up tons of earth in the process. Then, moments (or years) later when Marty arrives in 1985, he almost gets turned into roadkill by a modern day train, which does reduce the time machine to bits and pieces. There's even a little "death scene" as the flux capacitor "dies."
- The Matrix Revolutions: Niobe might be flying a ship that has "a fat ass," but she does a pretty decent job of evading sentinels, crashing through a barely open door, and not getting everyone squashed when she crash lands into the dock in Zion. She's lost about half of the lifters on the ship, and manages to scrape off just about every external appliance on the thing, which means you wouldn't want her to parallel park anything. Plus they must have some pretty decent seatbelts on that thing.
- Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith: While the acting is this scene is a disaster on another level as Hayden Christensen deadpans "We're coming in too hot," the visual effects are nothing to sneer at. Although why a ship that huge has dragfins and flaps on it, I'll never know. Clearly it's not meant to fly in the atmosphere, and it should have burned to a cinder the way they were flying it. He even yells at R2D2! Don't blame the droid for your bad acting, just take it like a man and crash that damn thing.
- Armageddon: Not long after they've already destroyed a space station, the flight crew of the Independence gets nervous about landing on the ginormous asteroid and tries to adjust course. This results in several "OH SHIT!" moments as their shuttle gets riddled with debris, the pilots get sucked out the windows, and it crashes down... fairly intact. There's a great scene when Bruce Willis onboard the Freedom shouts "Is that the Independence?" and a pilot's body smacks into the window. Guess that answers that question.
- Star Trek Generations: The Enterprise separates into two piece, and the back half explodes in a warp core breach, and the saucer section smashes into Veridian III and carves a massive groove of destruction behind it. Technically, crash lands on the planet twice, since Picard hops back in time to stop Soran, although that sadly doesn't mean we get to see Data cuss twice in a row. Is anyone else impressed that the forward viewscreen managed to stay working as long as it did? That's some quality workmanship right there, even if every panel on the ship seems to explode in a shower of sparks whenever the ship hits something.