The Best Booms On The Big Screen

The cool guys aren’t the ones who walk away from explosions, but the ones who make them.

What’s a good movie without an epic explosion? Maybe nothing blows up in The Sound of Music. But according to Bruce Logan, special effects allow the imagination to go anywhere in the universe and beyond. Known to most as the Special Effects Jedi, Bruce has set off some of those iconic explosions that probably made you lose your shit in theaters when you saw them for the first time. And that was before CGI. 

Car flying out of wall of fire
Night skyline with 3 explosions and trails of smoke

What started as an aspiration to become an animator turned into an expansive mastery of animation, photography, special effects and pyrotechnics. When 2001: A Space Odyssey touched down for filming in England, the stars aligned and Bruce found himself in the movie industry as an animation artist and photographer. Space Odyssey = film school. 

Like most people in the biz, Bruce headed out to California. Then proceeded to the desert where he shot his first explosion. And although that footage was never used in the movie it was shot for, it was finally included in the opening sequence of Blade Runner twelve years later. Worked out. And so did Bruce’s career in special effects. Like most cinematic explosions, from there, things only got bigger. 

Like Tron and Star Wars big. Turns out, Bruce never needed to use the real Death Star, as frame one of his explosion was bigger than the model. Bruce and pyro-wizard Joe Viskocil used exotic explosives, titanium, gasoline, chemicals and more, lighting off one of the most mega miniature explosions of all time, directly above the camera to give the illusion of zero gravity. And one of the best detonations of any ship we’ve ever seen. And like we said—all analog. Take that, Vader. 

Ignited by curiosity, we had to pick Bruce’s brain about the movies.
And explosions.
And explosions in movies.

Black and white photo of Bruce Logan with paintbrush in hand, directing his brush

“It wasn’t Luke who destroyed the Death Star. It was me.”

–Bruce Logan


One thing everyone should know about Hollywood explosions?

Bruce Logan: When it comes to miniatures, bigger is better. And more convincing. 

Most memorable movie explosion?

BL: Independence Day. The explosions are just incredible. 

Favorite movie of all time?

BL: It’s a toss-up. Lawrence of Arabia, Blade Runner or Amadeus

Movies With The Best… 

Space Explosion:

BL: I might be biased, but … Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Especially for its time. 

Car Explosion:

BL: The Rookie. I shot the sequence with Clint Eastwood and Charlie Sheen in the Mercedes-Benz exploding out of a third-floor warehouse in a spectacular fireball. 

Helicopter Explosion:

BL: The Matrix. It’s a really great three-stage explosion. 

Building Explosion:

BL: Independence Day again. The big LA skyscraper and the White House. Although I don’t believe aliens would really be that malevolent. 

Explosion where the character walks away from it and doesn’t look back:

BL: The Equalizer. Denzel Washington slow-walks. 

Denzel Washington walking away from explosion in the background.