Destruction: Los Angeles: The 5 Best L.A. Movie Disasters

Published 4 years ago by , Updated May 22nd, 2011 at 7:55 pm,

resident evil afterlife los angeles zombies Destruction: Los Angeles: The 5 Best L.A. Movie Disasters

#3 – Resident Evil: Afterlife [Zombie Apocalypse]

Though we aren’t privy to actually seeing the T-Virus outbreak unfold in Los Angeles (we see Tokyo instead), moviegoers did get an aerial tour of the aftermath – the scorched Hollywood Hills, dilapidated skyscrapers, not to mention a sea of undead bodies congregated in the streets.

While much of Resident Evil: Afterlife takes place inside a prison complex, thousands of zombies/L.A. citizens collect at the gates of the compound – a grim reminder of the lingering devastation that didn’t just destroy the physical L.A. infrastructure but turned everyday people into bloody-thirsty walking disease-bags.

There’s no doubt that an enormous city-wide natural disaster would be terrifying, and claim a lot of lives, but it’s hard to imagine few outcomes more disturbing than mindlessly chewing on the flesh of your family, friends, and the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.


independence day los angeles disaster Destruction: Los Angeles: The 5 Best L.A. Movie Disasters

#2 – Independence Day [Hostile Alien Invasion]

Los Angeles was only one of several cities that got wiped off the map in Roland Emmerich’s (noticing a trend) 1996 alien-invasion film, Independence Day. Obviously it wouldn’t be the first time that aliens had set their sites on Los Angeles, but Independence Day features one of the most sweeping depictions of aliens on human genocide ever put to film.

The ID4 aliens’ implementation of an enormous energy based weapon, that first pounds the Los Angeles area with a blast wave and subsequently scorches the debris in a firestorm, is a one-two punch that leaves very few of the area’s fifteen million metro residents alive.

Even without the foiled “ground invasion” being prepped inside the alien motherships, given the mass-casualties in ID4’s initial L.A. attack, Battle: Los Angeles will have to work pretty hard to top this “Hostile Alien Invasion” story. Even if Battle: LA succeeds, Emmerich isn’t even done with L.A. yet – as he’s still invested in the oft-discussed idea of Independence Day sequels.


terminator 2 judgment day los angeles nuke Destruction: Los Angeles: The 5 Best L.A. Movie Disasters

#1 – Terminator 2: Judgment Day [Man-Made Sentient Machines]

While plenty of the films we’ve discussed here offered tales of survival and victory, in the face on unimaginable disaster, Terminator 2: Judgment Day prophesizes not just one of the most devastating attacks on Los Angeles – but also the bleakest potential outcome.

Sarah Connor may only experience Skynet’s Los Angeles nuke attack in a nightmare – but the prophecy comes true in the concluding moments of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Even though the series relies on time-travel events that are capable of creating an alternate future – things don’t ever appear to turn out well for L.A. In every potential future, the city has been reduced to rubble with Terminators, HK Tanks, and HK Aerials patrolling for human survivors. Not to mention Los Angeles serves as the location of the notorious Century Work Camp, a Skynet-run human concentration camp, where John Conner and Kyle Reese are eventually imprisoned.

In addition to the seemingly inevitable post-apocalyptic landscape, worst of all, the Skynet attack on L.A. (and other world cities) could have been entirely avoided. The nuclear assault isn’t the result of a solar flare that causes Earth’s core to increase or an unprovoked alien invasion – Los Angles suffers Judgment Day at the hands of a man-made machine that wages war against its creators.

Follow us on Twitter @benkendrick and @screenrant and let us know your pick for best Los Angeles disaster on film – as well as whether you think Battle: Los Angeles should take the top spot on future lists.

Battle: Los Angeles opens in theaters this Friday, March 11th.

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  1. …its Connor…come on now…

  2. Blowing up a nuclear bomb in season 6 of 24 would probably be the #1 Los Angeles TV disaster.

    • wasn’t that season 2?

  3. this was on yesterday

    • BMW,

      I can assure you that this has been in the works for about a week. We’re not the only ones who will come up with an idea that ties into an upcoming movie.


  4. Excellent list! I’m glad that Volcano was mentioned :)

  5. The movies mentioned here are quite bad (except for Terminator 2, of course), but I know that this genre is very mediocre, so there aren’t a lot of movies to choose.

  6. How could Volcano not make this list? In one of the more bizarre and entertaining disaster flicks of all time, Volcano combined knock-out special effects with a great cast and a fun storyline, not to mention a few in-jokes for Angelinos. I would’ve bumped Hancock off this list and put Volcano in the Top 3.

    • I was thinking the exact same thing. Hancock over Volcano for best damage to LA? Ridiculous.

      • Agreed.

    • As mentioned in the article, we tried to think of competing disaster categories – Volcano is mentioned as the runner-up in the “Natural Disaster” category (with 2012) taking first. We only allowed one movie per category to make the final list – then ranked the movies.

      We just thought the idea of Hancock being a destructive force in Los Angeles would make for a fun tongue-in-cheek addition – not that he’s actually a bigger disaster than the unfolding events in Volcano.

  7. I never cease to be amazed at how seriously people take “list” posts that are done just for fun…


    • LOL. I don’t get it either Vic.

    • I always like the lists here Vic. Keep ‘em coming!

    • Forget the list, how was the movie? :-)

      • Review will be up shortly. :)


  8. Didn’t the san andreas fault rip Cali apart in Superman 1, but that’s not really specifically L.A. I guess.

    Regarding Battle:L.A., POSIBLE SPOILER.
    Why would aliens looking for water go to Los Angeles? Wouldn’t Chicago be more logical with lake Michigan? Don’t Los Angelites have their water pumped in from miles and miles away?

    • i know right? LA gets all their water from the fresno/yosemite area. they take all of the water we use for farming.

  9. Let’s just hope that all the reading people are doing for Battle of L.A. isn’t going to get their hopes so sicked up about this movie, that when it finally comes out, their expectations of it come will come crashing down into a pile of destruction.:(

    Battle of L.A. is pretty much Independence Day meets District 9, both decently good movies. So I’m guessing (hoping) that it should be at least as good as either one of those movies.:)

    • Jeez I can never get these : ) right. O, NOW it works, of course *shakes head*

      • WOW! That never worked either.*shakes head, violently*This is just sad.*sigh*

        • Ya I know I’m bored and these post’s are starting to become a FAIL.

          • Alright I’ll stop now.:D

            • Make sure there is a space after your period. Then press : followed by ) without a space between. :)

              … I’m not sure how to make the one with sunglasses though

            • You know, drinking isn’t for everyone. 8-)

  10. As a side note anyone see the ads for the SyFy knockoff, “Battle of Los Angles”???

    I hate these shows that try to leech an idea and jump the gun with a much lower budget version of the show. Guess this is better than having it in the theaters though.

    • looks good though…its the same story but from a civilian perspective. Plus i saw some pretty well known actors in the previews.

  11. Dude what about Next???? at the end what my man Nick Cage said was bone chilling. Definetly top 5.

  12. Next was great, loved that film.

    I think somebody forgot “Escape From LA” and “Miricle Mile”,,,

    Hancock, come on that film was so forgettable.

    • i agree about escape from LA…ill have to check out miracle mile.

  13. Miricle Mile, (named after the Brea Tar Pits area of Hollywood),,, was a great film, great cast.

    MM, deals with a group of Los Angeles early morning cafe regulars that get a warning that ww3 has begun.


    Hard to find on dvd, if you do, its prob gonna be a full screen. This one really desirves a Critrion release!!!

  14. Just saw first screening of this & I thought it lived up to the hype.
    I was expecting a clash between black hawk down & war of worlds and it was somewhere between there.
    I don’t think anyone will be dissappointed after watching this.
    Eckhart defintely knows how to lay down those heartfelt moments.
    Can’t wait for screen rant’s review.

  15. I’m curious Vic, why isn’t Volcano on here? It’s a disaster movie, maybe not the best but still pretty good imo.

    • Ah never mind, might help if I actually read the article and not skimmed it. I guess that what I get for 2 hrs of sleep.

      • Shinine,



  16. Good list of Los Angeles destruction movies. You’d think there would be more Los Angeles destruction movies on the silver screen. We can add John Carter on the list of Los Angeles destruction movies. Terminator 2 is probably the best L.A. disaster movie. 2012 is another good depiction.