Director: Michael Bay
It has been 20 years since Armageddon was released in theatres on July 1st, 1998, and perhaps no summer blockbuster has ever or will ever defeat this king of the multiplex, this piece of Americana, this year-defining spectacle whose anniversary we celebrate today. Independence Day was released two years earlier, Deep Impact two months earlier, and for my money they’re both a little better, but Armageddon had the girl, the stud, the song, the fanfare, and it was a coming-out party that you would have had to experience to fully understand. It also had a cast & crew that’s almost jaw-dropping when you look down the list today, so there was nothing standing in the way of this film being the biggest and loudest firecracker you’d ever seen and heard, and boy was it huge.
As asteroids pelt New York City, scientists swing there eyes to the infinite horizon of space and do a double take; there’s something out there. A chunk of rock the size of Texas is on a collision course with Earth, its direct, doubtless, devastating path all of a sudden the only thing that really matters. When it hits, in mere days, humankind will be wiped from existence, and most likely so will every living thing on the planet, it’s that big & bad. The United States government’s first reaction is to fire nukes at the damned thing, bust it to pieces before it can come close. But anything peppering it from the outside will only cause minimal damage, it’ll just keep on trucking. The only way to deflect it from its trajectory is to trigger a bomb placed inside the rock along a fault line, and that’s where Harry Stamper comes in. Harry is the best oil driller there is, his team can cut through anything, and that’s why the world needs them now. They’ll head into outer space, land on the asteroid, dig down, blow it to hell, and return home; at least that’s the highly improbably plan.
It’s so ridiculous that it’s awesome, and that’s just the way it is with these larger-than-life disaster flicks; we know they’re ludicrous but man are they fun. Armageddon is no exception; it’s unbelievable and awesome at the same time. If you weren’t there, it’s hard to describe how important this movie was at the time, how cool it was that Aerosmith did a song for it and that Steven Tyler’s daughter was one of its stars. Looking at the cast list is simply daunting: Willis, Affleck, Thornton, Liv Tyler, Will Patton, Steve Buscemi, William Fichtner, Owen Wilson, Michael Clarke Duncan, Peter Stormare, Keith David, Jason Isaacs, Eddie Griffin. And the crew is a marvel too, even if you don’t dig all their stuff: directed by Michael Bay, written by J.J. Abrams, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. There’s a lot going on here, from the cast to the crew, from the music to the massive story, from the hype to the payoff; Armageddon is no tame ride. As far as the content of the film goes (and let’s be honest, it doesn’t really matter), there’s a lot left to be desired. The acting is horrible (Liv is the worst, Owen is the best), the plot barely makes sense (who came up with the idea that oil drillers would save the world?), and the movie itself is so long and cumbersome you have to prepare yourself when you sit down for a re-watch. Still, this is something important in the cinematic universe, something you have to see if you would like to be invited to any parties, an experience like no other, even if not entirely pleasant.
My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆