If there's one thing we've learned about sci-fi, it's that no futurist or fantasist can imagine a world where humans don't blow stuff up for fun. Fireworks are the original eye candy, the special effects that existed before filmmakers knew they even needed regular effects.
This 234th Independence Day, we commemorate America's greatest excuse to set the sky ablaze with this list of the best fireworks displays in sci-fi, horror and fantasy films (with video when available).
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Knowing what's to come in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, this fireworks scene makes our eyes water. In Order of the Phoenix, Fred and George Weasley lead the mother of all student uprisings against the mother of all schoolmarms with a blitz of magical fireworks. The twins quit school, clearly having nothing left to learn after building a better dragon firecracker than Gandalf the Grey himself.
V for Vendetta
The British don't celebrate Independence Day, since over there it would be more like "Day the Yanks Told Us to Go Frak Ourselves," which really isn't anything anyone would commemorate with a light show. Instead, the limeys light bonfires and shoot fireworks on Nov. 5, "Guy Fawkes Day," in honor of the Wachowski brothers' decision not to cast Keanu Reeves in V for Vendetta.
We're not exactly sure how Beldar Conehead smuggled this one through customs, but if this is the type of firework you can buy from Remulak, it might be worth a shopping trip to France. It's so big that even Lorne Michaels couldn't afford to actually shoot it.
The Boy Who Could Fly
It's a film about autism and surviving the deaths of one's parents (by plane crash and suicide), which would be a total bummer if it weren't for Fred Savage spraying bullies with pee and Milly and Eric making out on a cloud while fireworks sparkle around them.
Return of the Jedi
The fireworks display was one of the few great improvements in the special edition, turning the Endor victory into a galactic celebration. (The original ones wouldn't have made this list; it looked like a flock of X-Wings pooping as they flew across the sky.)
At the end of Galaxy Quest, the Mac guy discovers that there's just not an app for guiding a speeding spacecraft full of has-been actors to a safe landing. So he goes for the next big thing: a whole lot of bottle rockets.
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
The exploding-fireworks-cart scene in The Mummy 3 was so cool the production crew decided they wanted to get paid in pyrotechnics. (We can't actually show you the Brendan Fraser scene, but this video of the wrap party says it all.)
The Fellowship of the Ring
The fire marshal would never have issued a fire permit to the Shire if he had known Gandalf was so lax on securing his explosives.
In 1980, D.A.R.E. piloted a controversial anti-hallucinogenic commercial campaign: Doing drugs is like throwing fireworks at William Hurt's head. Obviously, it didn't work.
Nothing says the American Dream more than a man cuddling with his wife, who is breastfeeding their newborn, and watching fireworks from their domed enclosure. (No, it's totally not symbolic of the firebombing of Dresden.)
Mama used to say: "If you play with fireworks, you'll shoot someone's eye out." It's a good thing Corey Haim listened.
Fireworks should only be used only under the supervision of a trained pyrotechnics expert or Isaac Hayes.
The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao
Dr. Lao's rain-making fireworks: For those times when the Loch Ness monster is chasing you across Arizona desert. It'll shrink the beast and silence the bagpipes. ... OK, the irony here is that for all of Jim Danforth's fantastic animation, the least real-looking thing is the firework explosion.
Land of the Dead
In George A. Romero's future, fireworks are only good for one thing: distracting zombies long enough to smack them in the head as you pass by on your motorcycle.
Flight of the Navigator
Here's a sign that you're having a great Fourth of July: Your fireworks aren't crackling, but cackling like Pee Wee Herman. Listen, traversing time and space is one way to get around a July 4 DWI checkpoint, but it's much simpler if you just find yourself a designated navigator.
Fight Club: The final skyscaper-demolition scene is pretty much a giant fireworks display, with the Pixies in place of pomp and circumstance.
ID4: No Fourth of July list is complete without Independence Day, even if the "fireworks" were just pieces of spaceship debris entering the atmosphere.