Looking to push the sonic boundaries of your home theater? Watch one or more of these epic battle scenes. When the explosions and impacts pound your subwoofer, flyovers and bullets begin to zoom everywhere and the armies start clashing in front of you, it might be time to duck under the covers. But first, turn the volume up!
Swords, shields, armor, elephant charges and stirring music make this scene from the final installment in the famed trilogy unforgettable. Here, Gandalf the White, played by Ian McKellan, takes control of a battle after Denathor (John Noble) tells the men to flee rather than fight. But fight they do and the incredible visual effects and sound design — underpinned by a powerhouse score by Howard Shore performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra — will mesmerize you. Check it out here.
This science fiction action flick starring Will Smith and Randy Quaid took home the 1996 Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, but there’s plenty of sonic excitement here too. The story begins when an extraterrestrial mothership enters earth’s orbit and deploys huge saucers over numerous major cities. The climactic battle scene has the earthlings finally taking on the aliens. It’s filled with high energy sound design, including flyovers coming from all around you. When his missiles jam, fighter pilot Russel Casse, played by Quaid, flies his jet into the enemy ship, causing a massive catastrophic explosion that will light up your screen and get your subwoofer shaking. Check it out here.
This groundbreaking film from director James Cameron takes place in the mid-22nd century, as humans begin colonizing a lush moon called Pandora. The ensuing mining activities threaten a humanoid native species called the Na’vi, who, in this amazing scene, fight for their home against a mechanized army bent on their destruction. A number of cutting-edge visual effects were invented for this film, which, combined with powerful sound design and music from James Horner, makes for a spectacular viewing experience. Check it out here.
The entire Star Wars franchise is marked by epic battle scenes, but this is arguably the most memorable one of them all. This episode is set in time 10 years after the Phantom Menace film. It features all the digital effects we have come to love in the series, but the climactic battle was created directly in animatics and is instigated by none other than the most famous Jedi Grand Master Yoda. With plenty of flyovers, laser shots, explosions and high-energy action, it’s sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. Check it out here.
This battle from the 2007 award-winning movie Transformers combines computer animation with live action. In a war between robots who can disguise and transform themselves, the heroic Autobots fight the evil Decepticons, who try to build an army using the machines of the Earth. Taking place deep in the desert, this clash between a group of soldiers and a robotic scorpion-like creature called a Scorponock is filled with loud, heavy action and lots of sub-rattling explosions and gunfire. Heavily armed attack jets finally roar overhead to finish off the job, giving your surround sound system a further workout. Check it out here.
Not every battle scene involves armies. This one involves two legendary foot-stomping, earth-shaking monsters: Godzilla and King Kong. The excitement takes place at night in the streets of Hong Kong, adding to the visual impact onscreen. This 2021 American-made film is actually the 36th in the Godzilla franchise, and it used three different visual effects studios to create the battle between the giants. Check it out here.
Between the menacing music from composer Howard Shore and the relentless stomping of thousands of soldiers marching into war, this classic scene from The Hobbit builds and builds to an incredible climax. Elves, men and dwarfs take on the evil fanged Orcs in a wild onscreen clash that will rock your sound system. Check it out here.
This 1996 science fiction comedy (yes, there is such a genre!) directed by Tim Burton features an all-star cast that includes Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Danny DeVito and Michael J. Fox. The premise? Flying saucers land on Earth and when the President of the United States mistakenly welcomes the invading Martians as foreign dignitaries, mayhem ensues. George Lucas’ company Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) created the Martians and in this scene, heavyweight champion boxer Byron Williams (Jim Brown) takes a bunch of them on, smashing their glass helmets with his punches as they jump all over him. Adding to the comedic chaos are the dramatic stabs of brass from the Danny Elfman score coming from all around you. Check it out here.