The problem with these huge summer movies is. . . after a while, they all seem pretty much the same ("Deep Impact" aside . . .). Fortunately, I probably haven't lived long enough to get tired of them. :) There are many things familiar about "Armageddon," and probably a lot of people are thinking, gee, doesn't that President sound like Bill Pullman in "Independence Day" with his Let's-All-Come-Together-But-Y'all-Gotta- Listen-to-the-US speech? And hmmm, in "The Rock," wasn't Stanley Goodspeed aka Nick Cage stuck on that island whereas Harry Stamper aka Brucie's stuck on the asteroid, and didn't Liv Tyler's teary-eyed Grace remind you of Stanley's girlfriend? At the end of the movies, there is a brief suspicion that our heroes won't be able to make it (the President's threat to detonate the nuclear weapon in "Armageddon" is also similar to that other President's--hey, are they the same person?--threat to bomb Alcatraz in "The Rock), but as always the come through for us. Probably the only thing that is slightly new in "Armageddon" is that the hero dies. Wow. Don't worry, I am not going to spend the length of this review comparing movies--I'd just like to point out that "Armageddon," after all, is Just Another Summer Blockbuster. Not that I'm complaining. Despite the similarities, I admit I still pay to see these movies just because they ALL (well, most of them) make me more willing to believe in the greatness of mankind. (Yes, really.)
I don't have too many qualms about this movie, other than the fact that it's JASB. It's like I'm getting used to this Hollywood thing. Manufacturing money-makers is the goal, and here special effects takes the front seat, as usual. The actors, IMHO, did a pretty good job, which they should have done, considering the amount they're getting paid. Every aspect, although not quite perfect, is perfect for JASB. Michael Bay's direction is slightly dizzying as usual, but it suits the tone of the movie perfectly. I hated the documentary-ish intro, but who remembers it at the end? The juxtaposition of the supposedly horrifying destruction of New York City and Bruce Willis & Co's merrymaking on their oil drilling ship took a little getting-used-to; and we're treated to the standard end-of-the-world montage of different races around the world sittin'-and-waitin' again. And please, why didn't someone get rid of that awful "I swear to God I will make 800 feet!" dialogue uttered so convincingly by Bruce Willis next to the nuclear warhead? Nevermind all that, they're to be expected, unavoidable. They're only slightly more annoying the second time around, but they did not prevent me from enjoying the movie's fine points the second time around.
"Armageddon" starts, not surprisingly, with the same starry night that got the story started in "Deep Impact." That, plot and drilling aside, is where the similarity ends. While I can't keep my promise of comparing the two movies as I don't really remember "Deep Impact," my overall impression is that "Armageddon" is more Disney-ish, more fantasy, more rock-and-roll. More Gen-X. The story is harder to believe, less convincing, but I shed more tears. Ah, we love drama. Nevermind the fact that a toddler is unlikely to be willing to embrace his never-before-seen-father just because he's a hero, he's on TV. Ignore the fact that Will Patton's ex-wife in the movie seemed to change her mind too fast about visiting rights. As long as the scenes are powerful. I'm not saying that these details shouldn't be paid more attention to, I'm saying that in a movie like this, most people don't really care in the end. Well, at least I don't. :P I left the theatre thinking, hey, we may not all be so calm and serene if the end of the world really comes upon us, but at least now I can think that we all have the ability to do the right thing when such a threat appears. It made me feel so darn good. The movie's a projection of what I (and hopefully what others) hope the world can be like. It magnifies the best of mankind, though sadly it might not necessarily be realistic. (What are they "trying to save"?) But at least it's something that if you want to believe, you can believe in. We hope that when the time comes, people like Harry, AJ, Dan, and Crazy Russian Dude will be there for us, so that we can continue to "search for the stars."
"Get OFF the nuclear warhead NOW!"
Ratings: B+ (First viewing, 7/1/98), B- (Second viewing, 8/1/98)
*I'd hate to elect a President who can only say "My God, what'll we do?" at a time like this.