Summer is blockbuster season by definition. Movie goers generally want to get out of the heat, sit in an air conditioned theatre and park their brains at the door while things explode for a couple of hours. Bonus if there is a lightweight romance subplot and a few laughs. Armageddon offers all of that.
Revisiting this movie, I had forgotten that it was a Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer vehicle. Lots of explosions, stupid situations, a complete lack of plausibility in many places, and emotionally manipulative. Sidebar: the score by Trevor Rabin is note-for-note perfect for amping up the tension and tugging on heartstrings.
It’s got a solid cast, and decent timing — there’s a bit of a lag in the opener but it picks up pace and starts moving pretty soon thereafter. Get your popcorn inside the first half hour. Each of the cast plays their part: Bruce Willis kicks ass, Ben Affleck is the young-gun to Willis’ straight shooter, Steve Buscemi delivers ascerbic one-liners, and Liv Tyler is at her lip-quivering best (though I think she and Affleck were better on screen in Jersey Girl).
Armageddon fits squarely into the “Bruce Willis Saves the World” series of films but is also a about as pro-America as you can get without dipping into actual propaganda — the kind of movie that Team America: World Police squarely lampoons, right down to the getting-in-fighting-shape montage.
That said, if you’re looking for a solid brain-parking blockbuster, this is your movie. If you want something with a hint of science fact, try Deep Impact that came out the same year.
It is thanks to Armageddon that I now have a better understanding of Team America: World Police. Once again, this is one of those huge blockbuster movies that I never got around to seeing when they came out. Why? I have no freakin’ idea. I was familiar with the Aerosmith song, if that makes difference. But I digress. So there I am, finally watching this thing, and it is possibly the most “rah rah, America is amazing and will save the world” thing that I’ve ever seen, that wasn’t intended as satire. Honestly, I kept waiting for someone to sing “America, f- yeah!” In hindsight, I should have expected something of this nature when I realized that it was a co-production of Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay.
I have to say, I can see why we chose this as being representative of the summer blockbuster genre. It has all the classic components: Bruce Willis, the earth at risk, a love story that is both germane and unnecessary to the story, heroism, and sacrifice. I could feel how hard the movie was working to make me cry, and yet, even though I knew I was being manipulated, I still did get a little soggy around the edges. That is my nature, after all. I think there is at least 20 minutes too much exposition; tighter editing would have resulted in a better paced movie overall. I did like it, but I don’t think I’m in any great hurry to watch it again anytime soon. Perhaps if it didn’t take itself quite so seriously, I’d have enjoyed it even more.
- Episode 002: Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan
- Episode 003: Armageddon