As well as reinvigorating the independent scene with the likes of 'sex, lies and videotape', 'Sling Blade', 'Before Sunrise', and so many others, the '90s also produced some of the best blockbusters in movie 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 movie left cinemas and ended up on video.

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


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 just 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 movie that was directly responsible for the split between legendary producing duo Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. The story goes that Simpson hated the concept and was more than happy to relinquish any ties to it. Bruckheimer pushed ahead, his first movie 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, 'The 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 reasons why '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. It's all so ridiculous, this just about makes sense.


6. 'FACE / OFF' (1997)

Ah, John Woo. Although 'Broken Arrow' was his other '90s blockbuster hit, 'Face / Off stands - no pun intended - 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 movies anymore?


5. 'THE MATRIX' (1999)

'The Matrix' had all the hallmarks of a '90s blockbuster, but gets overlooked as one because of the sequels that followed. Like all good '90s blockbusters, it was a completely daft concept on paper, it had an enormous budget, it was produced by Joel Silver and it had some spectacular action setpieces. 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 precious few actors who can deliver a line like "Put your arms 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.' movie, 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 think he's doing this for fun?! It 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. Again, 'Terminator 2: Judgment 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 movie.

Interestingly, however, it's a sequel to a much different movie. The first 'Terminator' was, in a sense, more closer to a straightforward horror film. The unstoppable menace that was the T-800 was closer to Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers. Indeed, early drafts of that script had it that the Terminator looked and talked like a human. 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. Not only that, there was the none-too-subtle imagery of an LAPD cop being an object of terror to the outcast protagonists layered over it all as well.



1. 'JURASSIC PARK' (1993)

What can be said about 'Jurassic Park' that hasn't been said already? In our much-referenced rulings on '90s blockbusters, it had a few exemptions. It didn't have a tie-in song, nor did doves feature anywhere in the movie. It did, however, have a daft concept AND it did make a gigantic amount of money and become 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.

Yet, despite these violations, 'Jurassic Park' is as much a '90s blockbuster as it's talking about the entertainment industry in the '90s. The whole science-gone-haywire thing aside, you had the idea of commercialism running the show over the sense of wonder and optimism. Richard Attenborough's character is a wide-eyed idealist who wants to show people a new and beautiful wonder, while the suits want to turn it into an amusement park. Spielberg, himself a believer in wonder, probably knew that his creation would become a franchise sensation. Indeed, the whole thing falls apart because of a greedy bastard of an IT tech - played wonderfully by Wayne Knight - decides to do some light industrial espionage. Had he not made a computer virus and shut the whole place down, it would have become what it became in 'Jurassic World' without all the violence and the chewed-up lawyers falling on top of Laura Dern.