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Top 10 Space Hazard Scenes in Movies and TV

VO: Matthew Wende
Written by Q.V. Hough The hazards and dangers of space as portrayed in your favourite science fiction movies. WatchMojo presents the Top 10 Space Hazards from Movies and TV. But what will take the top spot on our list? The Debris field from Gravity, Harry's Farewell before a massive explosion in Armageddon, or the Asteroid field in Armageddon? Watch to find out! Watch on WatchMojo: WatchMojo.com Big thanks to culaski for suggesting this idea, and to see how WatchMojo users voted, check out the suggest page here: WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Asteroid+Scenes+in+Movie+and+TV
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In cinema and on the small screen, the great unknown provides plenty of suspense. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 space hazard scenes in movies and TV.

For this list, we’re counting down the most iconic of space threat sequences in both television and film. Of course, a SPOILER ALERT is now in effect.

#10: Black Hole
“Star Trek” (2009)

With Nero having already destroyed Vulcan by creating a black hole, the Enterprise crew finds themselves in a sticky and engulfing situation. When the Red Matter explodes, it seems as though an everlasting light may consume Captain Kirk and company, but they do, in fact, escape. Within such a well-received reboot, this scene reminds genre loyalists that director J.J. Abrams is more than capable of pushing the franchise forward, utilizing a time-bending concept to fuel the film as a whole, and certainly sucking audiences in along with the Enterprise crew.

#9: A Dangerous Disney Affair
“Dinosaur” (2000)

As the inciting incident in this Disney live-action/CGI flick, this colorful meteor sequence represents both a majestic and terrifying moment for the island’s inhabitants. At first, the visuals inspire child-like wonder for dinosaurs and lemurs of varying ages, but the shower naturally turns deadly once the apparent magic evolves into fireballs. Given the CGI nature of the family film, the horror doesn’t stand up to other space hazard events, yet there’s just enough to shake up the intended demographic. Overall, it works thanks to the artistic design, the suspenseful pacing, and certainly the visual of a talking dinosaur wading through the water, terrified for his own life and family.

#8: Praxis Wave
“Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” (1991)

Kicking off the final cinematic go-round of the original “Star Trek” cast, a Klingon Moon blows up, creating utter chaos among the empire. The massive shock wave keeps the crew floored as Sulu panics, and with good reason. Praxis is gone… Well mostly. And that’s bad news, of course, as the Klingons will ultimately have to seek peace with the Federation. For 1991, it’s an impressive space hazard scene, even if the drama occurs mostly within the USS Excelsior. And given that “The Final Frontier” didn’t go so well, this moment ensured Trekkies a more positive experience for the rest of “The Undiscovered Country” as a whole.

#7: Joint Operation Missile Strike
“The Day the Sky Exploded” [aka “La morte viene dallo spazio”] (1958)

Directed by Paolo Heusch, “La morte viene dallo spazio” is largely recognized as the first science fiction production of Italian cinema. Once a rocket mission goes wrong early on, asteroids are sent flying through space, with the hope being that the moon will protect planet Earth. Of course, it doesn’t, and all hell breaks loose as a result. Yet, there’s still the possibility of destroying the massive cluster by engaging every missile available. Shot in black and white, the film doesn’t necessarily have that WOW factor – at least by today’s standards - but the explosive finale marks a significant moment for the advancement of international genre-based film.

#6: The Biederman Fragment
“Deep Impact” (1998)

In Mimi Leder’s pre-9/11 disaster flick, Americans, and the world, await the first of two comet chunks that will create a mega tsunami in the Atlantic Ocean. As the tension builds, the Biederman rock finally hits, with the visuals becoming increasingly stressful. Of course, the image of a giant wave plowing through Manhattan and past the Twin Towers has a powerful effect today, but for the time, it was a staple of the genre given the continuous advancements in technology. Granted, the horror expressed by the characters doesn’t match the chaos of the visuals, making “Deep Impact” more of a popcorn flick and a product of its time rather than an enduring classic. Still, this sequence will always have its place in blockbuster history.

#5: Melancholia Arrives
“Melancholia” (2011)

Throughout Lars von Trier’s thoroughly depressing film, a sense of dread is passed from one character to another. At first, Kirsten Dunst’s Justine succumbs to the feeling of melancholia, while her sister Claire later fears the planet Melancholia, which seems to be headed directly for Earth. More of a character study than a disaster film, Melancholia’s finale produces a sense of unity and symmetry as the gassy mass emerges. It’s a terrifying conclusion, but poetic as well, as the metaphoric nature of the scene holds more power than the visual itself. For von Trier’s work, any cinematic hazard is typically more about the internal character of the scene rather than how it looks.

#4: Digital Cornfields and Superhuman Horror
“Smallville” (2001-11)

A little over a month after 9/11, a Clark Kent/Superman origin series premiered on The WB. And while the opening meteor shower brought Tom Welling’s superhuman character to Earth, it also took away Lana’s parents – and Lex’s hair. Terrorizing Middle America, the space hazard kicked off the series with a fiery bang, perhaps somewhat distasteful for the time, but still impressive nonetheless. Even so, it’s a notable hazard sequence of superhero entertainment, complete with digital cornfields. Plus, the series ultimately proved to be a legitimate hit for the network. All in all, this jaw-dropping introduction marked a new era for Superman and certainly for The WB.

#3: Goodbye, Harry
“Armageddon” (1998)

Directed by Michael Bay, “Armageddon” suggests a hazard or two with its title alone. But no one could prepare for the teary farewell as a brave soul named Harry Stamper sacrifices himself for humanity. Attempting to detonate a bomb, Harry struggles mightily as the world watches. But this man is a genuine hero, a concept supported by the poignant dialogue of one Ben Affleck. Of course, Bruce Willis never disappoints in action flicks, and his honorable move produces a genuinely moving montage as his life flashes before him, as a rather nasty explosion does the same. Given the barrage of international images, “Armageddon” closes out with grace, as does Harry Stamper’s life.

#2: The Asteroid Field
“Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back” (1980)

In a film that inspired a world of science fiction fanatics, this asteroid sequence delivers on multiple levels. Surely, one must bow down to the visual effects, but the moment is complemented by the cool composure of the characters, not to mention the hilarious dialogue. Sure, Han Solo and Princess Leia may seem a bit too relaxed given the circumstances, but the epic nature of the Millennium Falcon sequence lives on as a classic moment of cinema. And while the asteroid chase from “Attack of the Clones” doesn’t have the same legacy within pop culture, it’s still one of the best as well, and certainly a stressful moment for die-hards and first-time viewers alike.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- Orpheus Fragment Hits New York

“Meteor” (1979)


- Another Black Hole

“Stargate SG-1” (1997-2007)


- Yet Another Black Hole

“Futurama” (1999-2013)


#1: Debris Chain Reaction
“Gravity” (2013)

Many space hazards are meant to be experienced IN the movie theater. And Alfonso Cuarón’s jaw-dropping space debris sequence from “Gravity” only reinforces this idea. With one continuous shot, the scene takes audiences on a ride with the small crew, with planet Earth serving as the hypnotic backdrop, especially when things get hairy. It’s a legitimately engulfing moment, as the color palette and camerawork produce a realistic vibe, despite the obvious fact that it’s NOT real. Once the debris from the Russian missile strike hits the space shuttle at high-speed, the dizzying effect takes viewers into the minds of Ryan Stone and Matt Kowalski and lends some humanity to an otherwise effects-driven film.
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