Sci-Fi / Disaster
Armageddon - Collectors Edition
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Dir: Michael Bay
Star: Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Steve Buscemi, Liv Tyler, Billy Bob Thornton
Cert / Year: 15 - R/ 1998
Format: DVD R-2
'

After a freak meteor shower rains down on New York and also destroys a space shuttle in the process which is in orbit above the Earth, the brainiacs at NASA discover a meteor the size of Texas headed straight towards Earth. Due to it's emmense size and it's velocity, should the meteor hit the Earth it would destroy the planet. Estimating that there is about 18 days until the meteor hits, the resident geniuses at NASA try and formulate a way to stop the meteor and save the planet. Dan Truman (Billy Bob Thornton) head honcho at NASA listens intently as all the crazy ideas fly across the table. Bizarrely, the only viable plan that they have is to land a craft on the meteor and detonate a nuclear warhead from deep inside it so that the rock will seperate upon detonation and the two halves will fly past the planet thus saving the world.

the plan however requires, getting the nuclear warhead to an estimated depth of 800 feet which is somewhat of a problem (and landing on a meteor as hurtles toward the planet isn't?) and NASA project that the only possible way to do it within a short time would be to drill a hole on the surface (The intelligence is staggering isn't it). NASA then seek the advice of a specialist who with over 30 years experience in oil drilling has bored through every possible kind of rock and substance on Earth. They are promptly airlifted from their drilling platform and Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis ) and his daughter Grace (Liv Tyler) are briefed by Truman on the situation and their "plan". Harry agrees to help but after he discovers that NASA have stolen his plans for a new drill and built a prototype (which they can't get to work properly) and sees the "outstanding" set of astronauts selected for the job, he knows that there is only one way that the plan will work...... and that is if he does the drilling himself.

Fantastic would probably be a good description of this film, the story courtesy of Robert Roy Pool who also wrote Outbreak is excellent and combined with a superb cast and impressive direction by Michael Bay (The Rock, Bad Boys) makes this a memorable film. But, and there had to be a "but", the story is ostensibly dumb and the presumptious, egotistical assumptions made by the USA in order to shoe horn in a basic storyline of America saves the world is in poor taste. The special effects are superb, which surprisingly enough don't govern the picture as much as you would expect and Bay manages to capture some stunning photography. Combined with the remarkably atmospheric soundtrack the film breaks away from the typical, mere 2-D motion picture outing and certainly makes its presence felt. I must admit that watching this film it is difficult not to get an occassional shiver down the spine and through to the climactic and (allegedly) heartfelt and tear jerking finale Armageddon is a poigniant (if a little pretentious and cheesy) and riveting edge of your seat drama.

As I said previously the direction of Michael Bay is quite superb and everything seems to blend very well. Bruce Willis gives his all as Harry in one of his better acting performances, but he does occasionally chew over some terribly dumb lines. The rest of the cast including Steve Buscemi, Ben Affleck, Will Patton, Liv Tyler, Owen Wilson Shanghai Noon all play outstanding performances and have a fantastic and work well on-screen. A brief but amusing performance from cult German star Udo Kier as the NASA psychiatrist just has to be mentioned. If I was to be picky then I would have to point out that a couple of blatantly computer generated effects rear their ugly heads, but you hardly notice them in comparison to the rest of the stunning scenery and effects work. There is however a constant need for the Americans to "flag wave" in their films, this is yet another cinematic example where the good 'ol USA saves the planet from destruction, all against the un-subtle backdrop of a truly monterous stars and stripes flag, as the rest of the planet are so dumb and inferior that they obviously can do nothing! I mean come on, get real will you. In the film, all of the scientists, boffins and experts are American, only America knows about the meteor because they are so great and the rest of the world is so inferior. Come on Hollywood, cut it out with the political propaganda cobblers and get your heads out of your own hoops, suspension of disbelief is one thing but this illusion that Hollywood is continually portraying is just conceited. Where will it lead next?

If you ignore the incessent flag waving and propaganda, this is an entertaining and visually impressive film. Some good performances, a pretty good script, a good soundtrack especially the new Aerosmith track, this is well worth seeing.

Tagline

Armageddon. It's Closer Than you Think.

Rating: 4 out of 5

DVD
Picture 2.35:1 Widescreen Excellent crisp image
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Fantastic and atmospheric
DISC 1
Features Animated menus
Exclusive directors cut - including additional footage
Occasionally amusing commentary track by stars Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, director Michael Bay and producer Jerry Bruckheimer.
Second commentary track by cinematographer John Schwartzman and NASA eggheads Dr. Joe Allen and Ivan Bekey which although interesting does go on a bit and gets boring after a while.
3 Theatical trailers
DISC 2
Features Theatrical trailer
Deleted Scenes
Storyboard and production design drawings
Analysis of Special Effects featurette
Aerosmith music video - "Miss a thing", which also contains a couple of interviews with members of the band.
Verdict A superb two disc box set, good value for money. The Nasa commentary is very soporific, so if you have trouble sleeping, whack it on and you'll be off to sleep in no time.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home