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

best los angeles movie disasters

Battle: Los Angeles is one of the most anticipated films of Spring 2011 – promising a city-wide devastation of the iconic L.A. area. While the film is largely expected to forgo on-the-nose references to famous L.A. landmarks, in favor of a more Dark Knight-like realism, the movie is still set to present one of the biggest beatings the iconic West Coast city has ever endured.

In honor of Hollywood’s obsession with trashing their home-turf, we thought it’d be fun to countdown the best L.A. movie disasters and give credit to each categorical source of destruction – based on how successful he, she, they, or it, were at pummeling the “City of Angels” into rubble.

A few rules before we get started:

A) Only one movie per “source” of destruction.

B) The disaster has to take place in Los Angeles (not fictional LA-like cities such as Mission City in Transformers or nearby real-world cities such as San Diego in The Lost World: Jurassic Park).

Honorable mentions:

While there are plenty of fan-favorite films that included large-scale devastation of the Los Angeles area, five movies ultimately stood out to us. As a result, a number of films didn’t quite pass the bar of seismic disruption that the five finalists set – but two came heartbreakingly close.

Volcano, the 1997 film starring Tommy Lee Jones, Anne Heche, and Don Cheadle, certainly made its mark in the fictional L.A. landscape of the time, some Los Angeles veterans may never quite look at the La Brea Tar Pits the same way again or forget visions of fireballs raining down on their favorite delicatessen. However, despite being a quirky disaster film, Volcano failed to take the top spot in our “natural disaster” category.

Similarly, War of the Worlds (the 1953 original) is one of the best alien invasion films of all time. However, despite blowing up a number of historical L.A. landmarks, Byron Haskin’s film leaves Los Angeles in significantly better shape than our number one alien invasion choice.


hancock los angeles disaster

#5 – Hancock [Intoxicated Superhero]

Not all disasters are the result of global warming, malicious non-human invaders, or a scientist with a God complex, sometimes it only takes super-powers, and a fondness for drinking, to leave a city in shambles.

Sure, Hancock may not have left the city of Los Angeles in the kind of disarray the sudden eruption of a magma spewing hole in the Earth did in Volcano but, unlike many disasters, this isn’t a one-off calamity. Remember, we only see a few isolated incidents from what has been an ongoing string of disastrous misadventures. The gross damage inflicted by Hancock could easily surpass the repair bill Los Angeles residents faced in the wake of the War of the Worlds.

Not to mention the fact that this is Hancock actually trying to help clean up the city. Imagine the damage that he could have enacted had Jason Bateman not stepped in - attempting to help the down-on-his-luck hero clean up his act.


2012 los angles disaster

#4 – 2012 [Natural Disaster]

Few films have reveled in the no-holds-barred destruction of the Los Angeles area quite like Roland Emmerich’s 2009 global apocalypse film 2012.

The same director who scripted a batch of tornados ripping apart the Hollywood sign (among other things) in his 2004 disaster film, The Day After Tomorrow, returned five years later for one of the largest, most over-the-top disaster sequences ever shown on film.

With beaches sinking into the Pacific Ocean, skyscrapers tumbling like dominoes, highways collapsing, and some shockingly good driving from writer-turned-limo driver John Cusack, the damage portrayed in 2012 presents the most devastating natural disaster to ever be inflicted upon the fictional streets of L.A.


Continue reading our list of the 5 Best L.A. Movie Disasters for choices number 3 - 1...

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