Armageddon movie review: it’s not the heat, it’s the stupidity

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Oh, there will be those who say that Armageddon is mindless fluff, a complete waste of celluloid, a blot on humanity’s collective soul. Heed them not. Director Michael Bay and producer Jerry Bruckheimer have crafted as fine an educational experience as you will find these days. To wit:

Fun Facts About Our Universe
Albert Einstein and Isaac Asimov be damned! They lied to us all those years. Here are the real scientific truths that govern everything:

• New York City taxis and buses will explode at the slightest provocation, but one can fire a high-powered rifle multiple times on an offshore oil rig without incident.

• Asteroids travel through space trailing iridescent spider webs and making whooshing noises.

• But once a spaceship lands on that asteroid, it switches from whooshes to throaty growls.

• Fire burns — rages, actually — in a vacuum.

• The human body, under 11 Gs of force, is still capable of screaming, “We’re all gonna die!” Compression of the chest, forcing air out of the lungs and rendering speech impossible, simply does not happen.

• Sound travels easily in a vacuum.

• Forget all that claptrap about the Earth revolving around the sun — it can be sunset in the Middle East and the American Midwest at the same time.

• When disarming a nuclear weapon, it’s never the red wire.

Information About NASA
The agency that put humans on the moon was exaggerating the difficulties and dangers it faced in that dramatic endeavor. The real story is much more believable:

• It’s pronounced “Nausau.”

• Astronaut training can be completed in less than two weeks — summer Space Camp is really all the orientation one needs.

• NASA keeps extra portly-sized spacesuits on hand for the big and tall astronaut.

• NASA employs a secret mode of transportation to whisk one from Mission Control in Houston to Cape Canaveral in Florida in mere minutes.

• Beautiful young women with dewy lips and moist eyes may wander freely at all NASA facilities.

• NASA’s trained professionals rarely know what they’re doing — one merely need push them aside and bash any malfunctioning equipment with a monkey wrench or even one’s bare fists.

• NASA frequently takes advantage of the little-known truck-stop facilities at space station Mir.

• NASA shuttles are equipped with machine guns.

• Astronauts must beware the dreaded affliction known as “space dementia,” which can cause you to behave like a moron.

• Regardless of what you may have heard, there are no amateur astronomers or professionals unaffiliated with NASA who might spot an asteroid the size of Texas barreling toward Earth. In fact, a meteor storm can devastate the New York metropolitan area without raising suspicions.

And Our Glorious U.S. of A.
It makes me all teary-eyed, thinking about this great nation of ours. Armageddon celebrates it perfectly, just in time for Independence Day, our country’s birthday:

• Most Americans drape the Stars and Stripes over every stationary object and will pose in front of the flag whenever possible.

• American women are either bitches, whores, or semivirginal nymphs who need the protection of a manly man.

• Professionalism and maturity are for dweebs and squares. The way to get ahead in the world is to shoot, shout, and hit anything or anyone who disagrees with you.

• Rule to live by: When in trouble, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.

• Beautiful young women find horny, insane Steve Buscemi irresistible.

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Fri, Jul 03, 1998 4:24pm

[reader comment via email reposted by maj]

[Spoilers. Not that it matters.]


Armageddon is killing me! That… movie — for lack of a better word — will not get out of my head! It’s like the mirror image of The Truman Show. I keep digging through the layers of crap in a vain attempt to find oxygen — and all I find is more crap! I must vent!

• What the hell was that freakin’ red wire/blue wire scene? This is a standard issue military nuclear bomb being disarmed by a guy who’s on the spaceship specifically because HE KNOWS ABOUT NUCLEAR BOMBS! These guys are not a military recruitment incentive.

• Why would Michael Bay specifically focus on the Apollo 1 plaque? This was one of the greatest tragedies in the history of the space program — other than this movie. Is this supposed to fill me with confidence?

• Texas is a pretty big state — but not enough for an asteroid the same size to generate the selective gravity that’s shown in this movie.

• Why shoot Liv Tyler on her back with her face all scrunched up into her neck? She’s cute and virtually the only female in the film. Shouldn’t you want to make her look her best?

• I expect the roughnecks in the films to be anti-authoritarian rebels, but bad as they are, they actually acted more professionally than the NASA guys AND the military.

• This film had two Oscar winning screenwriters in the cast, Billy Bob Thornton and Ben Affleck, and nobody ever said, “Hey, guys, think you could punch up the dialogue?”

• In an era of mind-numbing special effects, how come the destruction of New York looked so damn fake?

Thanks — just needed to get that off my chest.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to
Fri, Jul 03, 1998 4:26pm

You thought the roughnecks acted more professionally than the NASA guys? I saw it exactly the opposite: The roughnecks were like a bunch of children, running around, screaming, shooting and hitting everything in sight. The moral of the movie seemed to be, It’s cool to be a moron.

The destruction of New York looked so damn fake because the exploding streets were actually a Hollywood soundstage. For a supposedly big FX movie, they skimped on a lot of things, like all the lame-ass excuses for not having to do zero-g effects. In fact, the one time they did do zero-g, I could see the wires supporting the actor!
Fri, Jul 03, 1998 4:28pm

[reader comment via email reposted by maj]

I read your review on Deep Impact, and I must say, you’re absolutely right! We can’t blame Hollywood for the gush of asteroid-slamming-Earth movies, cos it’s the demand of moviegoers that ultimately motivates producers.

Deep Impact touched me to the core. I don’t remember having cried so hard in any other recent movies. And yes, there were some totally insensitive people who chuckled and sneered when heroes died and families separated. I was confounded! There I was, bawling like a baby, while two men beside me were sniggering. Why?? I guess I shall never know.

Just for the record, I watched Armageddon too — it doesn’t have a chance. Not after a brilliant, moving film like Deep Impact. Sure, it’s raking in the box-office gold. It has commercial success (so does any other dynamite-generous flicks), but underneath all that, it’s nothing more than 2++ hours of mindless drilling inside the theater.

Erm, I’ve digressed. I meant to congratulate you on the wonderful site you’ve created. Reading what you wrote was a joy because you have some really astute perceptions. I just hope that you’ll always have the time to maintain this site and write some more great reviews!


MaryAnn Johanson
reply to
Fri, Jul 03, 1998 4:29pm

Thanks very much for your lovely comments. Sometimes I wonder why I bother with the site at all, but it’s hearing from people like you that makes it all worthwhile.