10 Bloated Blockbusters
How Bloated? 2 hr 38 min
Bang For Your Buck: If Michael Bay ever based a Transformer on Roland Emmerich, it would be called Annihilatron. You thought the German destroyer got his demolition happy on with Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow ? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Using as a springboard the ancient Mayan prophecy that the world will end on 21 December, 2012, Emmerich first razes Los Angeles to the ground, before obliterating pretty much every man and his dog in a series of super-size set-pieces that would make Bay and Bruckheimer weep.
When even the Pope isn’t safe, you know you’re in for one hell of a thrill ride.
Landmark Destroyed: We stopped counting after the White House (Emmerich really hates that place).
How Bloated? 2 hr 56 min (director’s cut)
Bang For Your Buck: It’s a post-apoca-flick, so most of the destruction has already happened (there isn’t even a showy, pre-credits flashback depicting giant tsunamis scaling Everest – FAIL).
But Waterworld still has a go at some budget-stretching brawls. Leader of the smokers, The Deacon (Dennis Hopper), is the catalyst for much of the on-screen hoo-ha, trapping Helen (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and Kevin Costner’s mutant Mariner underwater, and igniting an oil reserve to an predictably explosive end.
To be honest, though, we expected more considering its massively engorged $175m cash cow.
Landmark Destroyed: All of them (sadly off-screen).
The Towering Inferno (1974)
How Bloated? 2 hr 45 min
Bang For Your Buck: Paul Newman, Faye Dunaway, Steve McQueen, Shelley Winters, Fred Astaire... need we say more? Yes? Oh alright, you thankless buggers.
Following hot on the heels of 1972’s The Poseidon Adventure, Towering Inferno is easily the beefiest of the ‘70s disaster flicks, splitting its action into a quintet of carefully nuanced destruction.
Architect Newman scales the inside of an elevator shaft to save wee nippers, helicopters explode… meanwhile, electrical failures and gas leaks cause an outbreak of pandemonium.
Next time somebody says “we shouldn't hold the party until the safeguards are installed”… listen, mm-kay?
Landmark Destroyed: All 138 storeys of the fictional Glass Tower
How Bloated? 3 hr 14 min
Bang For Your Buck: Figures adjusted for inflation pitch Jim Cameron’s ‘God I wish I’d learnt how to swim’ bloater as The Second Most Expensive Movie Ever Made™ (after Cleopatra ). So you’d expect some damn fine eye-candy, right?
Well, you got it. Key here is the slow build – we see the crusty seabed cemetery where the unsinkable ship sunk long before the flashback to the actual event. But when it comes, it’s a doozy.
Tracking in infinitesimal detail the collision, rupture and eventual sinking of the hulking vessel, Cameron again proves himself a master of pace and tension as 1,500 people are sucked into an icy grave.
Landmark Destroyed: Clue’s in the title (though it’s probably more of a seamark).
The Dark Knight (2008)
How Bloated? 2 hr 32 min
Bang For Your Buck: Sequels equal bigger, stronger, faster, and nobody can accuse Chris Nolan of resting on his laurels for his second bat bonanza.
The caped crusader launches himself off skyscrapers, police officers congregate in the street only to run screaming for their lives, a hospital is pulverised, and there’s a veritable pile-up of vehicular write-offs.
Oh, and Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning Joker (brandishing everything from a bazooka to a flick-knife) exists in his own vacuum of charismatic comic book crazy – he’s worth the price of the iTunes download alone.
Landmark Destroyed: Does the bat signal projector count?
Ben Hur (1959)
How Bloated? 3 hr 42 min (1993 re-release)
Bang For Your Buck: The very definition of spectacle, this Academy Award gobbler (it deep fried 11 baldies) features the most famous chariot race-face-off ever committed to celluloid (to be fair, there’s not much competition).
With Charlton Heston and Stephen Boyd performing much of their own stunt work, the chariot scene took three months to shoot, featured 15,000 extras and used an 18-acre film set. All for nine minutes of breakneck cinema.
But that’s not all the film has to offer, also boasting a memorable clash at sea and even old JC himself. Even the Vatican likes it.
Landmark Destroyed: Rome.
King Kong (2005)
How Bloated? 3 hr 21 min (extended edition)
Bang For Your Buck: The original Kong was a mere whisper at 100 minutes, keeping its storyline trim and flab-free.
For his post-millennial remake, a Peter Jackson fresh from Middle-Earth success decided to scale up, and developed Kong into the epic that its plot deserved.
Want a Kong/T-Rex smackdown? You got it. How about an underground pit seething with creepy crawlies? Yes, please Mr Jackson!
After its stealthy introductions, which take close to an hour, Jackson unveils a Christmas spread of jaw-dropping moments.
Landmark Destroyed: King Kong.
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
How Bloated? 4 hr 11 min (extended edition)
Bang For Your Buck: To be fair, packing over 1,000 pages worth of action – not to mention backstory, frontstory and centuries worth of Middle Earth history – into three films was a big job.
And Peter Jackson delivered enough white-knuckle action in the first two instalments to leave you giddy for a month. Could there really be anything left to show? You bet there was.
Shelob, an all-out assault on Minas Tirith, giant dragon thingies, an Army of the Dead... The quadruple climax stinks of blockbuster bloat, but after 12 hours with the hairy-footed shrimps, it’s understandable that Jackson found it hard to say goodbye.
Landmark Destroyed: Otherworldly landmarks, the One Ring.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
How Bloated? 2 hr 30 min
Bang For Your Buck: It cost $200m, and Michael Bay makes sure every cent of that sizeable sum is up there on the screen in a metallic orgy that essentially amounts to auto-porn (never more so than when Megan Fox does that thing where she bends over stuff).
Cramming in more Terminators, sorry, Transformers than even the first film (here there are ten main Autobots and nine main Decepticons), T2 has smash-em-ups in a library, a city, a forest, and a certain Egyptian tourist trap.
If it were a meal, T2 would be a combo chicken-korma-Sunday-roast-baked-beans-on-toast-burger-and-chips-with-sausages-and-whipped-cream. Difficult to digest, but quite an experience.
Landmark Destroyed: The Great Pyramids
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
How Bloated? 2 hr 49 min
Bang For Your Buck: Even more bloated than its two pant-testing predecessors, and by far the longest in terms of running time, this third outing for Cap’n Jack Sparrow and co attempts to steer its already wildly off-course plotting into calmer seas.
Which means more BOOMS and BANGS from a script evidently scribbled by persons heavily influenced by rum.
Honestly, it’s pretty much more of the same – cannons fly, Depp wobbles and manages impossibly heroic acts, and Yun-Fat Chow attempts to add a touch of culture.
Oh, and Keith Richards drops by as Depp’s daddy dearest. Yo-ho, yo-ho, a pirate’s life for me!
Landmark Destroyed: Orlando Bloom’s career?