Most summer blockbusters have exquisite action sequences, and you can’t throw a tesseract without hitting an explosion in a Marvel movie. And while fireworks are erupting everywhere, you can get a dose of high octane explosions in the comfort and safety of your living room with these booming movies!
“The Dark Knight” (2008) – I’ll be completely honest, Heath Ledger as Joker is what I remember the most from this movie. The rest of the Bruce Wayne-centric story is lost due to the quality of Ledger. Steal each scene with its exaggerated character played perfectly from start to finish. In it, the Joker tries to take over Gotham City and Batman (Christain Bale) has to stop him. It’s entirely possible that because of Ledger’s untimely death after filming, that’s why he’s remembered so much, but I’d say it’s the best Joker performance we’ve had. (Joaquin Phoenix was awesome in “Joker,” but it really didn’t have to be a Joker movie and any connection to the universe seemed forced) and he also has one of the best blasts on screen. Stream it on Hulu or rent it on Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, or YouTube.
“Die hard” (1988) – Christmas in July! (The movie was released in July so technically it’s a summer blockbuster too.) You probably already know the story of John McClane (Bruce Willis), a New York cop who saves the day when a bunch of Hostages is stopped by a glorified robbery orchestrated by Hans Gruber (the delightfully vile Alan Rickman). Throughout the Nakatomi Plaza shootings and explosions, we learn how McClane is in shock over his separation from his wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) who is one of the captives, and there are some wonderfully quiet moments where Willis seems actually caring about what he does. There’s a reason this is a seasonal classic for many households. Stream it on HBO Max / GO or rent it on Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu or YouTube.
“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (1966) – The Spaghetti Western epic is also one of the greatest of the western genre. Starring Clint Eastwood as vagrant Blondie (The Good), Lee Van Cleef as hitman Angel Eyes (The Bad) and Eli Wallach as crook Tuco (The Ugly). I’ll start with a major caveat, Eli Wallach was often portrayed as Latinos in westerns of this era, sporting a brown face during this one. Wallach is also one of the greatest actors of his time and never turns too much to parody or stereotyping like other black / brown / yellowface performances, although that’s no excuse for that. We follow each of the three men as they make their way to a fortune of 2,000 gold coins hidden by a Confederate soldier. Tuco is really the character we get to know the most and quite frankly the one you put down roots in the end. The film includes the vast plains of the southwest through Spain and features performances by French, Italian, Spanish and American actors, all dubbed with English dialogue. It also has Eino Morricone’s outstanding score which has become synonymous with westerns. Stream it on Netflix or rent it on Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu or YouTube.
“Ghost Hunters” (1984) – Nothing beats the original. Three paranormal scientists start their own ghost-catching business when New York is overrun by spirits and ghosts. When a particular building turns out to be the epicenter of activity, the team must shut it down before the entity known as Zuul takes over the world. The music, script and acting still hold on to this day evoking belly laughs and fist pumps as the Stay Puft Marshmallow man comes to an end. Rent it on Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, or YouTube.
“The Incredibles” (2004) – Retired superheroes Bob and Helen Parr aka Mr. Incredible and Elastagirl settle down and have a family, take on mundane jobs, and generally live the kind of everyday life we all lead until Bob is called to. the retreat to save the world and ultimately get Helen and the kids involved too. The animation style is wonderful and the story is both gripping and thoughtful for children and adults alike. Stream it on Disney Plus or rent it on Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, or YouTube.
“Inglourious Basterds” (2009) – Writer / director Quentin Tarantino’s sixth film is an extravagant revisionist history flick for which, paired with “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Tarantino seems to have the knack for. He also has a knack for exaggerated violence and gore that “Inglorious Basterds” never shies away from. It was the film that introduced Christoph Waltz to American audiences and gave him his first Oscar to start. Following a group of American Jewish soldiers whose sole mission is to hunt and kill Nazi rulers in France during WWII, he puts on superb performances throughout but Waltz is the one who really shines, you do crawl and make you laugh at the same time. Stream it on Netflix or rent it on Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu or YouTube.
“Kingsman: The Secret Service” (2014) – Based on the comic book series of the same name, the film follows Eggsy (Taron Egerton), a child from South London who is heading for a life out of prison. Nimble and nimble, he attracts the attention of a dapper secret agent Harry Hart (Colin Firth) who then recruits him from a highly secret and independent agency known as the Kingsman. When tech entrepreneur Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) throws a plane to solve climate change by killing the majority of the world’s population, Eggsy and Harry must stop him. It’s such a surprising movie in the best possible way. Seeing secret agent movies in the past they all follow a pretty predictable formula, this one manages to stray from them while still staying true to his roots and having a great time throughout. Firth is delicious and makes way for a spectacular fight / explosion scene that leaves you in deep trouble. Check it out before the prequel hits theaters (maybe) in September. Stream it on Hulu (with Live TV) or rent it on Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu or YouTube.
“V for Vendetta” (2005) – In an alternate universe, a fascist government is rising in the UK and seizing power. Driven by revenge and seeking to free those under this regime, a vigilante known as V (Hugo Weaving) begins destroying state monuments starting with Old Bailey in London, the building that houses the Court central criminal justice system in England. Taking a young production assistant, Evey (Natalie Portman) under his protection, he opens his eyes to the turmoil of this society and how she must now join the fight for freedom. The stylized film was written by the Wachowskis (who also wrote “The Matrix”) and is fairly indicative of the time period in which it was made, meaning that much of the plot is picked up by the large action sequences and that character development is decidedly absent. Hugo Weaving is as always pretty awesome even if he’s hidden by a mask all the time, but Natalie Portman is chewing the scene with her poor British accent. However, there are some pretty spectacular explosions, all choreographed to classical music, which makes it delicious. Stream it on Netflix or rent it on Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu or YouTube.
“What about Bob? “(1991) – Who said explosions were relegated to action movies? Bill Murray plays the hypochondriac Bob Wiley who has a new psychiatrist, the egocentric Dr. Leo Marvin played by Richard Dreyfuss, just before Leo goes on a family vacation. Bob breaks through with a session with Leo and decides to follow him to his family vacation home at Lake Winnipisaki and feels right at home. Bob and the rest of the Marvin family get along wonderfully, but Leo is much less obliging. Comedy has archaic ideals and terminology (by today’s standards) when it comes to mental illness, but Bob is never really the weight of jokes, instead, he’s just the deliciously doof. unconscious. Stream it on HBO Max / Go or rent it on Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu or YouTube.
Honorable mention “Independence Day” (1996) – I couldn’t let it come and go on July 4th let alone the astonishing explosion that takes place in one of the more mediocre blockbusters. Sure, Will Smith plays his part with ease and it’s fun to watch, and Bill Pullman’s speech is awesome, but what you’re really here for is the boom! Rent it on Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, or Vudu.