Armageddon (1998)

18 Apr


Smith’s Verdict: *1/2

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

1998’s “Armageddon” shares the same premise as “Deep Impact,” which came out the same year as this one. Both movies are about a giant asteroid about to crash to earth and wipe out mankind. But if there’s one thing to be said about “Deep Impact,” it’s that it’s a much better film than this loud, obnoxious, boring, distasteful action movie/special effects extravaganza.

“Armageddon” is the best title for this movie. As Gene Siskel, of “Siskel and Ebert,” put it, “Armageddon is appropriately titled because while watching it, you’ll feel as though you’ve been in combat—visual combat and aural combat.” He gave this film a thumbs-up, but my review is much closer to what Ebert thought of it.

The movie is about the threat of an asteroid that is said to be the size of Texas that could wipe out the whole planet. “Nothing could survive, not even bacteria.” Billy Bob Thornton plays a NASA chief who has to find a way to save the planet. He comes up with a solution: hire a bunch of oil drillers to go up into space and drill to the core of the sucker and then blow it up. Bruce Willis plays the leader of the drillers Harry Stamper, who is said to be the world’s greatest driller (what a distinction). He has his own team with him and they’re all different types of people (so we can tell them apart) and they’re just a ragtag band. Included in the team are a sex-obsessed weirdo (Steve Buscemi), a bass-voiced giant (Michael Clarke Duncan), and the boyfriend of Harry’s daughter, whom Harry disapproves of, shown in a completely over-the-top tantrum beginning. The boyfriend is played by Ben Affleck.

I guess “Armageddon” is supposed to be entertaining because there are nonstop special effects, little human story, and shots that don’t even last twenty seconds. This doesn’t even feel much like a movie rather than an overlong trailer, to say the least. Once the characters are up in space, the movie just drags on and on and on and it got very boring. I kept waiting…and waiting…for something to make sense.

Then, the movie was over. The second half of this movie is full of very tightly-edited scenes of sci-fi action and it all felt like a dead zone as it ran for an hour and a half. There are a lot of action scenes and they don’t really pay off or add to anything.

The characters here are dull, with the possible exception of Liv Tyler. She plays Harry’s daughter and gives a piece of realism to the human story, as much as there is. But Bruce Willis is wasted here as the dull leader of the drillers. The same can also be said for Billy Bob Thornton, who is forgettable here. Ben Affleck isn’t likable here in the slightest—he’s just a jerk.

The movie has very cheesy clichéd scenes that have been done to death. We get the slow-motion walking shots by the heroes, the over-the-top save-the-world speech, and farewell scenes that are not touching or effective just overdone. I wouldn’t mind so much if I wasn’t so bored already.

The movie runs about two-and-a-half hours. Why? I’m guessing action-director Michael Bay would like this movie as a popcorn movie or maybe he didn’t even want it that way. Whatever he wanted to do, he failed doing it. On the comic relief side, there is hardly any humor that is intentional and that’s also not a good sign. Some of the jokes that the characters say at the beginning are missing punch lines. Just when it feels like there might be one, the scene cuts to another. The worst part is that the movie hardly stops to take a breath once in a while. Does Bay think that the audience has an ingenious attention span?

See if you buy this—the planet is in huge jeopardy, right? An asteroid the size of Texas is going to crash down and wipe out humanity, so the heroes have to blow it up. Well, if the asteroid is that big, then wouldn’t even a piece be enough to wipe out the United States? And also, the characters are drillers who must be trained to be astronauts. Wouldn’t be easier to have astronauts train to be drillers?

“Armageddon” is a special-effects mess.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: