On the edge of London lies Pinewood, Shepperton and Leavesden Studios. All three play host to massive blockbusters, from Harry Potter to James Bond. In many, there comes a point where the filmmaker wants to display the gravitas of what's at stake. And what better way to do that, than by utterly savaging a massive metropolis viewers know and love? Which metropolis do they go for? Well, there's one just down the road from the studio...
Here are some of the 'best' (i.e. most gut-wrenchingly harrowing/otherwise gut-wrenchingly naff) destructions of London that the silver screen's offered up in the past few years.
V For Vendetta
The movie that brought blowing up London — and more specifically, the Houses of Parliament — back in vogue. It also brought those annoying crappy Guy Fawkes masks back too, so let's not give this movie too much credit.
In fairness to V For Vendetta, the destruction of Parliament is central to the main plot, unlike many of the incidental action sequences that plague the rest of this list.
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
This is the sixth Harry Potter movie, where the titular protagonist is 16 — AKA an age where teenagers like to go all dark and broody. The movie decides to reflect Harry's inner turmoil in the opening sequence, where the subtly named Death Eaters go after the Millennium Bridge.
Clearly they're displeased about the distinct lack of wobbliness on the wobbly bridge so decide to do something about it. Fortunately all Londoner's have Usain Bolt-esque sprinting pace and make it to the banks safety, just before the bridge collapses into the Thames.
Hollywood's been notoriously short on ideas recently, so instead of taking a gamble on new concepts, they've turned to recycling old ones. Hence a Mummy reboot that no one wanted. If one recycled idea doesn't tickle your fancy, how about two? Another London destruction.
At least there's something fresh in the mix. Instead of destroying the predictable London icon — the Houses of Parliament — the movie goes for something a bit more modern, the Cheesegrater.
What's that? It also destroys the Houses of Parliament? Oh.
Thor: The Dark World
Thor: The Dark World is the zenith in forgettable film making. We at Londonist love Marvel's take on light-hearted superhero action, but this film is just boring. They even made destroying London dull.
Lots of the destruction takes place down in Greenwich at the Old Royal Naval College. The film has no respect for a bloomin' UNESCO World Heritage Site. It tries to inflict some comedy into the act by having Thor and generic alien villain plonk onto the Gherkin. It doesn't work.
But the movie's most heinous crime of all, is the destruction of transport geography. A woman on the Underground tells Thor he can take a tube — looks to be deep-level — three stops from Charing Cross to Greenwich. Now we've studied our tube map cover to cover, but know nothing of this magical connection. Then TfL has the temerity to share this INCORRECT clip on their own YouTube channel. Shameful.
Independence Day: Resurgence
Independence Day has Dubai fall from the sky, to crush London. This is the cinematic equivalent of two for the price of one.
Also worth noting is Jeff Goldblum's knowing wink to the audience as Tower Bridge is crushed, uttering: "They like to get the landmarks."
Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer
The Fantastic Four films aren't very good, but they do one thing right. When the Silver Surfer comes along and tries to destroy London, knocking down the Millennium Eye in the process, the fierce foursome do their best to right it. And succeed. People survive. Hooray.
This one's pretty minor by the usual scale of London destruction, but still, a recognisable building is blown to smithereens. In sight of the Thames too. If you only learned about London from Hollywood movies, you'd think that the whole city was along the river.
Star Trek: Into Darkness
This one gets extra points for being a futuristic London. You'd hardly know the scene's set in the big smoke, if it weren't for St Paul's creeping in the corner. Pretty cool that Wren's masterpiece makes it to 2259. Less cool that its protected views don't look to have been preserved in the 23rd century.
Anyway this movie manages to destroy a part of London that doesn't actually exist — the Kelvin Memorial Archive — so it deserves a special award for that.
London Has Fallen
Look, you've got to give credit where credit's due. This one's upfront about it. You've only got yourself to blame if you sit down to watch London Has Fallen, and end up flabbergasted when London gets blown up. This is textbook does-what-it-says-on-the-tin.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation
The masterpiece. This is the best destruction of London, no words can really do it justice. Just watch below as our city is mercilessly torn to shreds. Wonderful stuff.
So we've come to the end of our rag-tag list and only now has it struck us how many of these movie's titles are beset by colons. Maybe that's the source of the destruction. Solution: use different punctuation.
Got any other favourite blockbusters that inflicted agony on our fair city? Tell us about them down in the comments.