“Cheesy, Gooey, Stupid. The Actors, During Their Slew Of Motivational Speeches, Forget That An Astroid Is About To Obliterate Earth. Deep Impact Was Better.”
February 2nd, 2012
Director Michael Bay ("Transformers" and "Pearl Harbor") has managed to give us a movie that is so similar to "Deep Impact" that it makes you not want to watch it. Both films have a huge asteroid as the villain that claims to obliterate the world as we know it, and both films must find some way of preventing this complete destruction.
"Armageddon" starts out with a discovery channel style narration by Charlton Heston describing how Earth formed, and how it will reach its demise (similar to Morgan Freeman's narration at the beginning of "War of the Worlds.") We are then introduced to our main character and villain, an asteroid the size of Texas. Having been spotted on some mysterious telescope and forwarded to the top-level people at NASA, it is the United States government to make a decision. As head of mission control at NASA Billy Bob Thornton ("Sling Blade") must ask "Die Hard's" Bruce Willis to save the world...yet again.
Although Billy Bob is not like the other NASA "idiots," his character just isn't as good as that of Bruce Willis. Willis portrays the role of Harry Stamper, a hotheaded oil driller and typical mans-man seen hitting golf balls at environmentalists, and aiming guns at his workers. Apart from all that unorthodox behavior, the United States government feels that Stamper is the best candidate for saving the 8 billion people on this planet. Apart from the end-of-the-world motif, there is also a semi-decent love story between Liv Tyler and Ben Affleck. The relationship wouldn't be anything special, however it involves Harry's daughter, Grace (Tyler) and his top oil driller, a.j (Affleck). To get an idea of what type of father Harry is; after finding Grace in A.j's bunk (it is presumed that they slept together) Harry chases him around the oil rig with a 12-gauge, eventually shooting him in the leg. After resembling his signature character of John McClain, helicopters arrive on the rig and whisk Harry and Grace to some undisclosed location. It is here that he is presented with this mission to save humankind.
The relationship between Grace and A.J. may be easily remembered by the gooey, tear-jerking Aerosmith song "I don't want to miss a thing." Similar to the effects of that song, many of the ending scenes attempting to be action-packed, become unnecessary, nonsensical, and unrealistic. When NASA initially hears of this Texas-sized asteroid, the plan they created consists of drilling a hole 800-feet-deep and dropping a nuclear weapon in it. By blowing it up from the inside, it would cause the asteroid to split into two half's, thus bypassing Earth's atmosphere. The only question I have is: how does NASA know that one of those Pennsylvania sized chunks wont crash into Earth and kill everything that exists? Another part of this film that made little sense to me was the idea of gravity on this asteroid. It is well-known that there is no gravity in space, yet when this "Captain America team (consisting of Steve Buscemi, Owen Wilson, Will Patton and Peter Stormare) reach the asteroid they walk the same way as they do on Earth. So either the science books are lying and Neil Armstrong is full of it, or the writers of "Armageddon" stretched the truth a bit. This wouldn't be so irritating if it was more consistent. The sensation of weightlessness is only seen in moments of peril or moments of courage - e.g. When A.j. Decides to jump the astroids' "Grand Canyon" in a suped-up lunar buggy or when the team is floating away while attempting to reach 800 feet drilling goal.
"Armageddon" is full of over-dramatic, severely over-acted and emotional scenes. Hollywood goes from "Houston we have a problem" in "Apollo 13," to "Houston you have a problem" in "Armageddon." The characters seem to forget that not only is a nuclear weapon ticking five feet from where they are standing, but they are nearing the Earth's atmosphere on a 300,000 sq-mile heap of jagged rock. With every second that goes by, the characters feel they can engage in motivational speeches, point guns at each other, and fire gatling guns into space. The movie seems to slow down at the end so they can fit all these unnecessary clichés. So when you reach the end of the film, you just want something to happen quickly.