The new trailer for London Has Fallen is pretty much a blueprint for how to make a silly disaster movie. There’s a highly improbable plot to bring a city to its knees. There’s one man who can save us all. There’s Morgan Freeman. And, of course, there is wanton destruction of beloved national monuments, in this case Trafalgar Square, The Houses of Parliament and Angela Bassett. Iconic landmarks are always tipping over in movies. Here are some of the most notable.
The Eiffel Tower – G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Such indignity suffered by such an elegant building. In Stephen Sommers’ thoroughly daft take on the super-soldier toy line, a baddy invents tiny robots that can devour anything. In the film’s key scene these tiny robots sink their little metal teeth into Paris’ favourite landmark, turning it to sludge in a storm of ropey CG. Zut alors.
The Millennium Bridge – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
In the moody opening to the sixth Harry Potter movie the Death Eaters, i.e. the bad wizards, are openly attacking London, smashing up shops and being very unkind to the unsuspecting muggles. They cap their assault by untangling the twisty Millennium Bridge.
The White House – Independence Day
Perhaps the most famous landmark destruction in cinematic history, it’s the perfect combination of digital and practical effects and the ideal way for the aliens to make very clear that they have not come in peace. They built an entire, intricately detailed model of the White House just to blow it up. God, we love films.
The Kremlin – Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
The Mission Impossible series has wrecked plenty of things in the name of entertainment: the Channel Tunnel, the Burj Khalifa, bits of the Vatican. It’s biggest mess was made, though, when the Kremlin was reduced to rubble by the bad guys in order to frame Tom Cruise and co. in the fourth Mission Impossible.
The London Eye – Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
In what felt like a weird sop to the London tourist board, the flabby second Fantastic Four movie spent an awful lot of time in the UK capital. There the superpowered quartet try to stop the London Eye tipping over and then go off for some bowling at the Trocadero, or something.
The Statue of Liberty – Cloverfield
This monster movie announced itself with a cracking teaser. A group of exceptionally good-looking young people are at a New Year’s Eve party when an explosion pulls them out onto the streets. As they stand terrified, the head of the Statue of Liberty crashes to the ground in front of them. the trailer ended with just a date, not even a title. Terrific.
Mount Rushmore – Superman II
Such a daft, fun throwaway gag. Zod and his sidekick villains fly past Mount Rushmore and zap its presidents so they show the faces of Zod and co instead. There’s one left over so they just turn poor old Abraham Lincoln into rubble.
The Golden Gate Bridge – It Came From Beneath The Sea
San Francisco’s landmark has been repeatedly subject to battery on film, failing to survive Superman, X-Men 3 and Monsters vs. Aliens. But our pick is 1955’s It Came From Beneath The Sea, in which a giant squid gives the bridge an overly enthusiastic hug, mostly because Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion animation is eternally charming.
Grand Central Station – Armageddon
Most of New York gets a pasting in Michael Bay’s meteor-action spectacular. It’s particularly upsetting when the gorgeous Chrysler building gets beheaded. But look what he does to the lovely Grand Central Station. That’s going to play merry havoc with the train timetables.
The Vatican – 2012
Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow) obliterates the world again, this time using the excuse of a Mayan prophecy that the world would end in 2012. In a scene that is actually quite political if you think about it – telling the world’s religious that even their god cannot save them – Emmerich smushes the Vatican and all its frocked inhabitants.
The Sphinx – Team America: World Police
This is very low-tech, but that’s the point. Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of South Park, used marionettes for their comedy about terrorists and American jingoism. So when a couple of terrorists in a jeep careen into the face of the ancient Egyptian Sphinx it doesn’t cause a hail of digital debris. Its head just plops off.
The Colosseum – The Core
For all of its iconic monuments, Rome features rarely in disaster movies. Mostly forgettable early-00s pic The Core, in which the Earth’s core stops spinning, causing our weather to go haywire, had a good go at breaking Italy’s ancient city. The Colosseum is hit by so much lightning that it glows and then explodes. We’re not entirely clear on the science of that.