Rating -

Disaster (US); 1998; Rated PG-13; 144 Minutes

Bruce Willis: Harry S. Stamper
Billy Bob Thornton: Dan Truman
Liv Tyler: Grace Stamper
Ben Affleck: A.J. Frost
Will Patton: Charles "Chick" Chapple
Steve Buscemi: Rockhound

Produced by Kenny Bates, Michael Bay, Jerry Bruckheimer, Jonathan Hensleigh, Gale Anne Hurd, Chad Oman, Pat Sandston, Jim Van Wyck, and Barry H. Waldman; Directed by Michael Bay; Screenwritten by Jonathan Hensleigh, Robert Roy Pool, Tony Gilroy, Shane Salerno, J.J. Abrams, Paul Attanasio, Ann Biderman, Scott Rosenberg, and Robert Towne

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Written by DAVID KEYES

"The Earth's Darkest Day Will Be Man's Finest Hour"
Armageddon Promotional Phrase

Does it take 144 minutes for a disaster film to resolve? Does it take nine people to write such a ridiculous script? Why do these movies flop so immensely when they have big-name casts? Why does a disaster picture need to be so ugly? Why does it have to be snipped together like a coming attractions trailer? Does every character of male gender have to have the mental capacity of tapeworms? Does it take a picture like this to achieve such a level of dimwittedness?

These questions, as well as several others, raced through my mind as I sat there and watched the mess that is Armageddon unfold before my eyes. Here is a film with so many problems that it manages to slip past all of the other disaster pictures and penetrate itself into a void where movies are more like dead-zones. It is a waste of 100 million dollars and the talent of great actors like Bruce Willis.

Truthfully, I canít think of a disaster picture Iíve enjoyed less. Ones that come to mind when I hear "bad disaster film" are Hard Rain and Volcano, but even those films have their redeeming qualities. Armageddon deserves whatever criticism it gets, because itís disconnected, stupid, boring, and entertainment-free. In other words, it is undoubtedly a complete turkey.

The film casts together several talented actors to prevent the biggest disaster that has ever faced earth: a meteor the size of Texas. When it is projected to hit the planet and destroy every living creature, NASA calls in Harry Stamper, played by Bruce Willis, who runs an oil rig along the ocean. When contacted by NASA, he and his crew mates, including one named A.J. Frost (Ben Affleck), who is in love with Harryís daughter, are sent on a test-course on Earth to see how well they can handle the fact that they need to drill into the meteor and set off bombs to break it up before it hits zero barrier and collides with Earth.

Within this pitiful period of time in which astronauts are trained, we are provoked with feelings of utter disbelief. Nearly every male character on screen occupies the film like some sort of condom add; they think that theyíre so macho that Earth has nothing to fear. Yet, when they finally hit their destination, half of them have already been killed.

You see, when the shuttle takes off, right from the beginning, the group is encountered with several technical difficulties. For one, when they refuel at the Russian Space Station, it explodes. Then, when they use the moonís gravitational pull to circle around it and get to the meteor, one of the ships accidentally hits the meteor on hard impact, killing several crew members and damaging several pieces of needed equipment, which they manage to either fix or improvise with.

In fact, the crew faces so many problems that not all of them can even be listed. Most of these take place in space itself, where the huge special-effects driven meteor occupies the majority of the filmís effect scenes.

We often see disaster pictures for their special effects. Think for a moment of what we saw in Danteís Peak, when the mountain erupted violently and the ash cloud flattened the city below. Those moments were spent in awe, because those effects were almost real to us.

It can all be done at the right time and direction, but with Armageddon, we canít enjoy any bit of the special effects, because the film moves simply too fast and is edited together like a 144-minute coming attractions trailer.

What sparse sequences exist where we can actually keep up with the special effects are the moments when they are murky and depressing. Example: we see a shot of Earth, and then the meteor passes overhead, which is so big that not even half of it can be seen on the screen. Everything in space, no matter how exciting it may seem, is done in tone darkness and murky colors, like the effects in Lost In Space. Why do these film studios keep on making films where the majority of the effects occur in an environment not made for them? On top of that, why do they have to shoot everything in such depressing colors?

I donít know what people are going to enjoy about this film, if anything at all. See it, and I fear that it will be your own Armageddon. You have been warned.

© 1998, David Keyes, Please e-mail the author here if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.
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