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   ARMAGEDDON (1998) 

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CAST
Bruce Willis
Billy Bob Thornton
Ben Affleck
Liv Tyler
Keith David
Will Patton
Steve Buscemi
Michael Clarke Duncan
Jason Isaacs

DIRECTED BY
Michael Bay

PURCHASE


DVD



Soundtrack




Time: 101 mins.
Rating: R
Genre: Action/Science Fiction

Nominated for Academy Awards for Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Visual Effects and Best Song.


Because I had already seen DEEP IMPACT in the theater, I decided to wait to see ARMAGEDDON on video. One asteroid hitting the Earth movie a season is all I could take. I have friends who actually liked this film, so though I was expecting the worst, I had some hope it wouldn't be as bad as I secretly knew it would be. The fact that I gave it a star at all is a testament to several of the performances and the special effects that saved it from being totally unbearable.

The film begins with a space shuttle exploding in space after being hit with a meteor shower, which also takes out a good chunk of New York City. With all the radar and sensors they have pointed at the sky, you mean to tell me they wouldn't have seen this coming? Maybe if it happened on the other side of the planet, but one would assume since they're watching the shuttle they would have some knowledge of the debris coming directly at it, don't you think? In any case, this small disaster is only the beginning. A "global killer" asteroid is heading right for Earth and NASA has only 18 days or so to come up with a plan that's going to save humanity. You wonder how they could miss a piece of rock the size of Texas.

Apparently we don't have enough eyes watching the sky to catch everything. And since the United States didn't see until it was practically in our laps, they want us to believe, after it took out New York, that they could keep this a secret. How are they going to explain away the decimated streets of the Big Apple – construction gone bad? The best NASA can come up with to save our hides is to drill into the rock, split it on its fault by detonating a nuclear bomb and hope that the big pieces pass by on either side of the Earth. Great plan boys. Sounds like a real winner. This is where Bruce Willis and his motley band of drillers comes in. Since they're the best in the world, Truman (Thornton), the head of NASA, seeks Harry's advice on how to operate the drill once they land on the surface of the asteroid. Sound familiar? I just have to wonder who stole this brilliant idea from the other.


"The fate of the planet is in the hands of a bunch of retards I wouldn't trust with a potato gun."

Harry doesn't trust that the astronauts are going to be able to use the drill successfully, so he volunteers his team to join them on the rock. So, the FBI collects Harry's crew from all over the country and brings them to NASA where they learn of the impending global disaster. How they all got scattered since Harry left them on an oil platform in the middle of nowhere is a mystery to me. But it's the filmmakers chance to show us a little bit about the lives of these characters we're supposed to care about. They might as well have just made them wear name tags with a few adjectives on them (horny, crazy, smartass guy) cause that's about as deep as their character development got. Of course, they all agree to take part in the mission. There's not a big choice.

Big surprise the drillers and the astronauts don't get along. Even though the clock is ticking down, the drillers are put through 10 days of physical tests and training. I know they have to learn how to use the equipment, but do we as an audience really have to watch? All these scenes do is show us how unique and "interesting" the drillers are and how poorly equipped they are for this adventure. Duh. Since they're all cliches, this kind of exposition is a waste of time. Finally, it's time for take off. Harry must say goodbye to his daughter Grace (Tyler), who just happened to get engaged to one of his team, AJ (Affleck). He's highly displeased by the match, he wanted something better for his daughter, but she's all grown up (so she keeps telling us) and he decides to let her make her own decision.

The love story angle to this film is one of the most childish, unromantic and silly relationships I have ever seen. AJ may be a talented driller, but emotionally he's a moron. I wouldn't want him anywhere near my daughter either. What she sees in him is beyond me. He's about to be launched into space, perhaps never to return, and he's playing with animal crackers on her stomach. This is the couple we're supposed to pin our hopes on? Their scenes together made me hope the mission failed, just so we could be spared more of their acting.

Needless to say, nothing goes right once the shuttles are in space. Murphy's Law is in overdrive. The premise is already implausible to begin with, did they have to make it laughable as well? By this point in the film, I wanted them all to die or for the mission just to be over. Didn't care which, just was tired of watching one disasterous mishap after another. They kept trying to twist the screws tighter and tighter, trying to put you on the edge of your seat. The only problem is you know the mission is going to succeed, you just don't know who's going to make it back – except for AJ. Love must survive. It was just too long and too overly dramatic. Just drill and get us out of there already. Though the set design and effects on the asteroid were pretty cool, I didn't need to see it from every possible angle.

The ending isn't exactly a surprise, but I won't ruin the only twist the film has. There are so many holes and inconsistancies in this film I wouldn't know where to start. If you're looking for some great special effects and don't care one whit about a sensible, interesting story than you'll probably like this movie. They certainly didn't waste any money on dialogue or plot points. Overall, the acting is abysmal, with the exception of Billy Bob Thornton, Steve Buscemi and the guy who played the Russion cosmonaut. They provided the only source of humor and intelligence this film had. Everyone else should be ashamed and forced to attend six weeks of acting school. They weren't given much to work with, but they could have at least tried to elevate the material. Not to mention the constant strains of Aerosmith on the soundtrack were enough to drive me batty.

All in all, unless you really, really, really like special effects extravegancas this is not a film you want to sit through. Even if you do, take note that it's 2 1/2 hours long and you feel every second of it.


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