There’s just no denying how all out Hollywood can go when it comes to action sequences, particularly battle scenes in sci fi, fantasy or period movies. And judging by the sheer number of amazing battle scenes we’ve witnessed over the years, it’s safe to say Hollywood knows its shit.
While a lot of these battle scenes have been loosely inspired from real life incidents, others have been the complete imagination of writers and SFX guys. Either way, we, as audiences, have lapped up everything that is offered to us. And this is exactly why it can be difficult to narrow down the best battle scenes.
10 Best Battle Scenes in Movies
300 (Battle of Thermopylae)
Ah, now can any list ever be complete without mentioning 300? Its extremely stylish editing and effective use of slow-mo are what make its iconic battle scene stand out. The visuals are over the top and violent, which is exactly why they manage to shine through. Not to mention the fact that 300 Spartans v/s a million soldiers of the Persian army makes us instantly root for the underdogs, thus making their victory so much sweeter for us.
Mel Gibson might be a terrible person, but you have to give him credit where it’s due. The guy has an uncanny knack for coming up with some of the most amazing battle scenes, and Braveheart is undoubtedly the biggest feather in his hat.
Do you know this battle scene uses extras that numbers in thousands? Yeah, not to mention the sheer realism it has due to the combination of excellent makeup and SFX – the decapitated limbs and pools of blood near dead bodies seem as real as they could ever be. This depiction also shocks audiences a lot, which is why it’s no surprise that Battle of the Stirling Bridge contains what is today considered as one of the best battle scenes in movies.
Gladiator (Battle for Germania)
It is exactly the type of setting we audiences are a sucker for – the “uncouth” Germanic tribes against the highly organized and mighty Roman legions. In the battle, the Romans can easily overwhelm the tribe's men because of their use of advanced technology. However, historians have long debated the efficiency of the Roman legions with some going so far as to state that the war was nothing but a stylized version of what really went down.
With Richard Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries playing during the battle scene, you will get shivers down your spine when you see Lt. Colonel Bill Kilgore commanding an entire village to be destroyed by sheer brute force i.e. a legion of helicopters. Saying anything more would be adding spoilers, so it’s best if you see this movie by going in completely blind.
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
The dwarves, elves and humans get together to battle 10,000 Uruk-hai at Helm’s Deep. The scale on which the battle takes place is nothing less than epic, and the sense of urgency is heightened with the Uruk-hai breaking through the castle walls and killing everybody in their sight. So, what happens next? Well, of course Gandalf saves the day! It’s definitely the type of battle scene fans would enjoy watching over and over again.
Kill Bill: Vol 1
And an unexpected entry, because what happens here is a fight, not a battle. But ah, what a fight it is! Body parts flying here, there and everywhere, blood smeared all across the room… The Bride, Uma Thurman, and O-Ren have a one-on-one, with odds stack heavily against Uma’s favor. This is a fight that action and gore lovers would enjoy equally. It was typical Quentin Tarantino fodder, which is exactly why it creates magic.
The Avengers (Battle of New York)
It would be unspeakable to talk of the best battle scenes in movies and not mention the Avengers! This gripping battle has everything that fans can ever think of, right from the Avengers fighting the aliens wearing mechanized armors in their hovercraft-style ships, to the common folk helping each other in times of emergency. Of course, the massive use of CGI, which by the way is beyond perfect, only adds to the beauty of this fantastic fight scene.
Return of the Jedi (The Battle of Endor)
Sure, the entire trilogy has great battle scenes, but none come as close as the Battle of Endor. The Rebellion gives the Empire a surprise attack – in not 1 but 3 different places simultaneously. While Admiral Ackbar and Lando Calrissian lead the troops of the Empire, Princess Leia commands the troops at her end. And of course, we have Han Solo, who takes the help of the Ewoks so that they can together decimate the force field generator of the Death Star.
The Matrix Reloaded (The Final Showdown)
The first Matrix movie revolutionized the way Hollywood did its fight sequences. And with the last movie in the trilogy, Reloaded sure as hell doesn't disappoint us. The villain, Agent smith, becomes a virus, replicating himself at a lightning fast speed in order to get rid of Neo once and for all. One look at this sequence and it is easily to tell that CGI is used very heavily. Every fight scene in it is iconic, and is hands down the highlight of the entire series.
Children of Men (Refugee Uprising)
If you’re the type of person who enjoys realism, then this is the Holy Grail for you. This 6 minute action sequence, which portrays a fight between rebel refugees and the British army, was shot continuously. That’s right – not a single cut was made in this battle scene, which only served to heighten the realism of the gritty conflict of battle. With the camera shaking and blood splattered across its lens, even the harshest critics will be unable to deny that the Refugee Uprising battle is one of the best battle scenes in movies.