|In Short:||An asteroid is heading towards earth, so grab some popcorn.|
|ROCKHOUND:||Guess what guys, it's time to embrace the horror! Look, we've got front row tickets to the end of the earth!|
When one thinks of a Michael Bay film, normally it would induce some vomit in ones mouth. Yet, I’m here to tell you not all of his films are bad. His triumph is without a doubt The Rock. I will fight anyone who says otherwise, but I’m also here to tell you that Armageddon isn’t as bad as you think.
I still remember the release date like it was yesterday. The year was 1998 and everywhere you turned someone was listening to Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing”. Every wedding you went to probably played it as “their song”. It gives Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” a run for its money in most overplayed song of the decade. Ben Affleck’s career was kicking off and Bruce Willis was, well, Bruce Willis. This was a time before Owen Wilson became a household name for comedy and before anyone knew who Michael Clark Duncan was. Heck, it was before Michael Bay became a punch line of a director.
This was the bigger, older, bully brother to Deep Impact. It falls into the category of “double dipped” films, where we see two films that have the exact same premise in one year. The same happened a year before with volcanoes and again in ’98 with little bugs. Armageddon was the more extravagant one, so it got more attention. Rightly so -- it’s a fun entertaining film, whereas Deep Impact is more realistic and depressing. Who the hell wants to watch that? I’d rather see Bruce Willis pull the old switcheroo and be the hero.
Armageddon is about just that: the Armageddon. The end of the world as we know it. Why, you ask? A giant asteroid is heading towards the earth and the only ones who can save us are a rag-tag group of oil drillers. Their plan is to drill into the centre of the asteroid, plant a nuclear device, fly away and blow it up. Easy as pie. After all it’s easier to train drillers to become astronauts than it is to train astronauts to drill.
Only this is a movie, so it can’t all be sunshine and rainbows. It’s not, and we get some tearful deaths and some long goodbyes. But I’m getting ahead of myself. These boys need to be recruited first, so cue the montage and throw some comedy into the mix. Speaking of comedy, how can you dislike a film when you have Steve Buscemi wearing shades in space shooting a mini-gun?
Yes, I just wrote that sentence.
Armageddon is a film that tried to make animal crackers sexy. Give it some credit. It’s easy to hate on the film now, more than ten years later, knowing what Bay has produced since then and what kind of director he is, but back then this was one of the most entertaining films to hit theatres. It still is, in my opinion. No Bay film is complete without some helicopters, icy blue cinematography, and even warm orange cinematography. Armageddon has it all. On top of that, it has a stellar cast. Let me list it again for you, since I missed out on some people earlier: Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Steve Buscemi, Billy Bob Thorton, Owen Wilson, Michael Clark Duncan, William Fichtner, Will Patton, Liv Tyler, Jason Issacs, Keith David and Peter Stormare. Even Eddie Griffin.
Okay, forget I mentioned that last one.
This end of the world flick is more concerned with entertaining the audience than solving the problem. No problem here; I love being entertained. Isn’t that the reason we go to the movies? If I’m going to see Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck fly into space, land on an asteroid and blow it up to save my ass, you better believe I’m going to suspend my disbelief for two hours and let my brain take a rest. Who cares that Michael Bay puts so many explosions in his films that the lack of oxygen in space to even have an explosion can’t stop him?
I will also stand by the fact that the special effects still look good to this day. It even looks better than some of the crap that passes as special effects today. Need I remind everyone of X-Men Origins: Wolverine? Didn’t think so.
This isn’t a film for critics -- it sits at 40% on Rotten Tomatoes. This is a film for the moviegoer who likes explosions, melodrama and fun. There, I said it, Armageddon is a fun movie. Not many films that are about the impending end of the world can say they are fun, but Armageddon manages to break that mold. It’s a well-crafted package that is unfairly picked on as time goes by.
The film can’t be bad, it’s been released as one of Criterion’s “greatest films from around the world”….right?
-- Matthew Layden