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Festivale online magazine, August, 1998
Armageddon movie review

Hotshot producer Jerry Bruckheimer is all too familiar with corny, underdone and translucent action flicks. Thankfully, he's also headed the production of some spectacular cornballs, most memorably The Rock and Con Air. This time, he's handed the directing reigns to Michael Bay, one of the few directors this year who hasn't been suckered into treating his material incorrectly.

Movie still, Armageddon, Festivale film review

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Mimi Leader tried too hard to pull off an effective emotional substance in Deep Impact, and Roland Emmerich was up to his usual mainstream garbage with the massively disappointing Godzilla. Trouble is, he doesn't bother to change the pace or form of the film and, although his material is treated with the precision and care of a capable director, an on going sense of repetitiveness found so regularly in Armageddon becomes tiresome and monotonous. And frankly, a little insulting.

An asteroid is descending quickly upon Earth, so a NASA team of experts (including Billy Bob Thorton, the leader of the pack) smartly decide to hire oil diggers to solve the problem. Just after a few demands are met (including "no taxes again...ever") the team is ready to blast off and save the world from destruction at the hands of Harry (Bruce Willis -- The Fifth Element).

Everything runs quite smoothly during the opening scenes, with plenty of explosions and car wrecks to satisfy most special effects hungry viewers. That's the first thing that separates Armageddon from the similarly thought of Deep Impact: Bay is not at all hesitant to use his computer-generated eye candy, but Mimi Leader let it all build up into an exhilarating climax. I'm not sure which one is better - whilst I enjoyed watching the opening scenes of Armageddon much more, I can't help but feel that Deep Impact introduces its scenario, and its characters, much more effectively. Talking about introducing characters, we first meet Harry when he's whacking golf balls into Green Peace protesters, then gets a shotgun and attempts to shoot his daughter's boyfriend (Ben Affleck -- Good Will Hunting). And that's the sort of idiocy you can except from these whimsical characters later on, especially when they're, um, saving the world.

When the film is set on Earth, it's actually quite enjoyable. The fast paced, snappy venture into the lives of these idiots and the developing of Thorton's character is all fun and games. But it's when we witness Bay's joy ride onto the asteroid that things go dreadfully wrong for the characters and our entertainment levels. A brainless, dumb and utterly boring collage of scenes follows, where every and any possible mishap occurs to our inane astronauts. In "the action film of the year" I actually, literally, fell asleep for a brief moment just to be awoken by one of the annoying demonstrations of digital sound. I found myself wishing that the Earth (read: the US) could kill two birds with the one stone: that is, get rid of the Asteroid and, oh please, get rid of Bruce Willis.

Most of the laughs come from Steve Buscemi, a weird little actor who's played the Weird Little Funny Guy role so many times that he's almost perfected it. But honestly, can't he try to vary his talents a little further? Buscemi's Armageddon performance is a replica of his other roles in The Wedding Singer, The Big Lebowski and Con Air, amongst others.

Potentially, this film is a great 90-minute flick with a ludicrous 144 minute running time. I can forgive Bruce Willis for looking like a dopey yobbo, by I can't forgive Armageddon's editors for making me feel like I was watching Titanic Special Edition in Space. In all fairness, it has a super ending - courageous, uplifting, joyful, etc etc. But by that time my eyes were barely remaining open and my ass bones were aching just enough to warrant a wise thought: "Arma-gedden-outa-here."

Click here to buy films from one of the online stores in Festivale's on-line shopping mall Due for Australian release August, 1998

From 0 stars (bomb), to 5 stars (a masterpiece): 1 and a half stars
Luke Buckmaster

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Just the facts:

Title: Armageddon (1998)
Written by: Story by Jonathan Hensleigh and Robert Roy Pool; screenplay by Jonathan Hensleigh  
Directed by: Michael Bay  
Produced by: Michael Bay; Jerry Bruckheimer; Jonathan Hensleigh (executive); Gale Anne Hurd; Chad Oman (executive); Jim Van Wyck   (executive); Barry H. Waldman (associate)
Edited by: Mark Goldblatt   Chris Lebenzon  
Director of Photography:
running time: 144 mins

The Players: Bruce Willis .... Harry Stamper
Billy Bob Thornton .... Truman
Liv Tyler .... Grace
Ben Affleck .... A.J. Frost
Will Patton .... Chick
Steve Buscemi .... Rockhound
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Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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Filed: Jun-1998 : Last updated: Aug, 1998 : Last tested: 3-Jul-2014: Last Compiled: 3-Jul-2014
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