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1998 - PG-13 (for sci-fi disaster action, sensuality and brief language) - 144 Mins.
Director: Michael Bay
Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer
Written By: Jonathan Hensleigh, Jeffrey Abrams
Starring: Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, Steve Buscemi, Owen Wilson, Michael Clarke Duncan, Will Patton, Jason Isaacs
Review by: Joseph Kastner
What would you do if you knew that tomorrow the world was going to come to an end? Whom would you talk to? What would you accomplish or attempt to accomplish before the end was to come? Where would you place yourself as you waited for that fateful moment to arrive? These are the questions that are constantly ignored within disasters films throughout the history of cinema and most recently in the latest surge of disaster flicks that have ranged from erupting volcanoes to catastrophic natural disasters to world-ending cosmic forces such as asteroids and comets colliding with Earth, thus ending all life on this planet. 1998 was a classic year in which two disaster films faced off against each other within a two month time span dealing with the same basic plot line (space-rock colliding with Earth while a space team tries to prevent such a disaster from occurring) but selling each one in a decidedly different style and audience base. The first was 'Deep Impact' (Dreamworks) which rushed out of the gate with $40 million in its opening weekend but failed to show legs by ending its run with $140 million. Less then two months later, Jerry Bruckheimer set to conquer space with his action-drama, 'Armageddon', and show how these disasters flicks are to be done correctly.

The story centers around the rag-tag team of “astronauts” that are sent into space to divert a space rock from colliding with Earth, which, in result, would end most life on the planet, if not all. It seems like any other day in New York City … That is before large explosions occur throughout the city destroying office buildings and towering structures and resulting in the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals. The United States Government, believing this to be an attack of terrorism, asks NASA to discover the source of the problem but when they do, they get a decisively different answer then they had ever anticipated. What caused the explosions in New York weren’t missiles … they were small meteorites (about the size of basketballs) that trailed off the enormous asteroid (about the size of Texas) that is on a direct collision course with Earth. With only about two weeks until the asteroid is estimated to hit, NASA brings aboard Harry Stamper, the best deep core driller on the planet, to train astronauts to drill into the asteroid, drop a nuclear device, blow apart the asteroid, and divert the two pieces from colliding with Earth. Claiming he is only the best because he works with the best, Harry forces NASA to recruit his rag-tag team of drillers to fly into space and save the world. But that is easier said then done as they not only face difficulties in the training program but unforeseen tricks that the asteroid throws at the “astronauts” in their attempt to accomplish the task at hand. The story for 'Armageddon', as outlandish and over-the-top as it may be, works exceedingly well in presenting a combination of fast-paced action sequences, sarcastic and, at times, irreverent humor, and dialed in emotions, even if they may be over played in several moments within the course of the film.

One of the great things that Jerry Bruckheimer films are known for, outside of the well-choreographed explosive action sequences, are his talented group of actors that are brilliantly cast in their roles. And 'Armageddon' once again proves the truth of that statement, despite a few performances here and there that apply to the contrary. Bruce Willis, in the same genre that basically defined him as a key actor in Hollywood, takes center stage in almost every action sequence he’s featured in and fills the screen with his sarcastic-toned humor and gritty, rock-solid attitude that works extraordinarily well with his character. Despite this being one of his few major release performances, Billy Bob Thornton still manages to give an excellent performance as the director of NASA who coordinates the mission to save the planet. Though his character isn’t featured as much as the others, Thornton still realizes he is a centralized character and the emotions he expresses in his scenes will be needed to reflect the actions that are occurring or will occur later in the feature. Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler are perfect together as the film’s romantic couple, though at times Affleck’s performance was a tad on the wooden side, of which his acting ability has often been described by critics, but this time that being so only when he was asked to cry and near the end of the film when everyone, not just Affleck, seemed to wind down as the feature wrapped up. And another note … Never let Affleck sing in a film ever again. Singing is definitely not his strongest talent and he proves that so in this film. And the most notable and worthy highlight of the cast has to be the marvelous, facetious and humorous performance given by Steve Buscemi, who has yet to portray a role that doesn’t work for him in the least.

Overall, whatever quips you have with Jerry Bruckheimer, Michael Bay or the disaster genre in general, Armageddon is decisively one of the best action flicks in years and raises the bar for all others like to follow in its footsteps. Though his films are famous for their outlandish action sequences, the combative scenes in this film go beyond the normal expectation ten-times in that their choreography and set up transcend the amazing special effects that are used to execute the sequence. Though there are many things to compliment the filmmakers on in this film, the feature is far from perfect but not so much so that it is an utterly unbearable disaster (no pun intended). At times the situations involved are too unbelievable and far-fetched, though it to be suggested that they may not have been intended to taken seriously in the first place, that it takes away some of the film’s credibility. It would have been better if the situations were more down-to-earth (once again, no pun intended) for the audience to take the plot of the film more seriously. And, yes, several moments in the feature are over-drawn and clichéd but with the overall tone of the film being quite entertaining, one can forgive the filmmakers for such mistakes. Clearly if you don’t enjoy action films or can bother leaving your head at the door (not entirely but for portions of the film) then 'Armageddon' isn’t for you but Bruckheimer flicks have the weird effect of making the most unlikely people fans of his work, so give it a shot before passing judgment.
Movie Guru Rating
An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater.
  4 out of 5 stars

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