As well as reinvigorating the independent scene with the likes of Sex, Lies And Videotape and so many others, the '90s also produced some of the best blockbusters in film history.

There were always a few key elements at work - Jerry Simpson / Don Bruckheimer, Hans Zimmer doing the music, a ridiculous concept that made no sense on paper, gratuitous destruction and the tie-in song that charted heavily for months after the film ended.

Here's our pick of the ten best blockbusters from 1990 all the way up to 1999.


The 10 Best Blockbuster Movies Of The '70s

The 10 Best Blockbuster Movies Of The '80s



10. ARMAGEDDON (1998)

Get used to seeing Michael Bay on this list. He's going to be on this. A LOT. For our money, Armageddon perfectly encapsulates everything that was both right and wrong about '90s blockbusters. To begin with, the idea itself was just dumb as all hell. Wouldn't it be easier just to train astronauts to drill rather than the other way around? That thought, by the way, wasn't lost on Ben Affleck - who, after bringing it up with Michael Bay on set, was told to shut up. Here's another bit of trivia - NASA actually shows Armageddon during its management trainee program to see how many technical and engineering errors there are in the film. So far, 168 have been counted.


9. THE ROCK (1996)

We said Michael Bay was going to be on this list a lot, didn't we? Believe it or not, Quentin Tarantino and Aaron Sorkin both did uncredited rewrites on the script. What's more, Michael Bay used actual Navy SEALs to pose as background extras with Ed Harris. Harris, meanwhile, stayed in character repeatedly on set with Bay addressing him as 'General Hummel' throughout the shoot. There's also the fan theory surrounding Sean Connery's character, which makes perfect sense when you look back on the film. The fan theory? Sean Connery's character is actually an older version of his James Bond character.


8. CON AIR (1997)

John Cusack reportedly hates Con Air so much that he has pointedly refused to ever discuss the film during interviews. Why is that, John Cusack? Why? As well as being one of John Cusack's most hated performances, it was the film that was directly responsible for the split between legendary producing duo Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. It was said that Simpson hated the concept and was more than happy to relinquish any ties to the film. Bruckheimer pushed ahead, his first film without Simpson at his side. Does it still hold up? Aside from Nicolas Cage's ridiculous hairdo, absolutely.



You have to remember that when Independence Day landed in cinemas, The X-Files was at the height of its popularity. Of course, X-Files and Independence Day are like chalk and cheese. Still, context is important. You also had the very on-the-nose destruction of New York City and the White House, which is one of the reason Independence Day was pulled from television screenings post 9/11. Here's another bit of useless trivia. You know when Randy Quaid flies his jet into the alien destruction beam at the very end? James Brown's distinctive scream was mixed in for sound effects. Once you know that, you can't not hear it.


6. FACE / OFF (1997)

Ah, John Woo. Although Broken Arrow was his other '90s blockbuster hit, Face / Off stands head and shoulders above it. Why? John Travolta trying to out-act Nicholas Cage. That alone is worth the price of admission. You also had Nicholas Cage being full-on Nicholas Cage, with such wondrous pieces of dialogue like, "If I were to let you suck my tongue, would you be grateful?" Genius. Just absolutely genius. Not only that, you also had John Woo's customary flying doves motif. Why aren't doves included in action films anymore?




5. THE MATRIX (1999)

The Matrix had all the hallmarks of a '90s blockbuster, but gets overlooked as one because of the horrifyingly bad sequels that followed. Again, like so many blockbusters, it was a completely daft concept on paper, it had an enormous budget, it was produced by Joel Silver and it had some of the most spectacular action sequences of the decade. The story behind how it came to its gigantic budget is also pretty interesting. The Wachowskis originally asked for $80 million to make the film, which Warner Bros. refused immediately out of hand and gave them $10 million instead. With that, they went off and shot the first ten minutes of the film - right up to where Trinity escapes from the Agents via the telephone box - and then presented that footage to Warner Bros. The rest, as they say, is history. Warner Bros. turned over the rest of the money and thus, The Matrix was born.


4. MEN IN BLACK (1996)

There's very few actors who can say, "Put your hands up and all your flippers!", and make it sound utterly convincing. Tommy Lee Jones is one such actor. Jones was reportedly reticent about signing on for the role, who had to be convinced into doing so by Steven Spielberg on the proviso that the script would improve and capture the tone of the comic-book more clearly. Ed Solomon, who had previously written for The Larry Sanders Show and, uh, the Super Mario Bros. film, took several passes at the script before it became the comedy hit we know it as today. It's a shame the subsequent sequels never lived up to the original's charm.


3. SPEED (1994)

Although Jan De Bont is better skilled as a director of photography than a director, Speed is easily his crowning achievement in both fields. Although somewhat dismissed as a Die Hard clone, Speed is much more than just that. The whip-smart dialogue, written by an uncredited Joss Whedon, is perfect '90s fare and Dennis Hopper's full commitment to the role is just perfect. Sure, he's eating the scenery, but who cares? You had Keanu Reeves running after a bus with a bomb strapped to it and Sandra Bullock at the wheel. None of it made sense.



Before James Cameron was crashing gigantic boats into icebergs and making the most non-impactful film known to human history (Avatar, obviously), he was capable of making sharply directed action blockbusters. Judgement Day had all the hallmarks of a '90s blockbuster. It had a daft concept on paper (robot bodybuilder returns to protect future leader of humanity), a tie-in song from a then-popular musician / musical group (GNR's You Could Be Mine) and the action was sustained throughout the entire film. What's intriguing about Judgement Day is that what it came from was anything but a blockbuster. The first Terminator was, in a sense, more closer to a straightforward horror film. The unstoppable menace that was the T-800 was more closer to Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers and early drafts of the script had it that the Terminator looked and talked like a human. In fact, Lance Henriksen was originally supposed to play the Terminator, but was instead replaced by Arnie in the final draft. This was then adapted to Robert Patrick's dead-eyed LAPD cop, T-1000 and it works just as effectively.




What can be said about Jurassic Park that hasn't been said already? Fair enough, it didn't have a tie-in song, it wasn't directed by Michael Bay or John Woo. It did, however, have a daft concept AND it did make a gigantic amount of money and became a cultural institution in the process. It also featured '90s Blockbuster mainstay Jeff Goldblum as the cackling Dr. Ian Malcolm and made everyone terrified of velociraptors. IT CAN USE DOORS, FOR CHRIST'S SAKE.