Armageddon (1998) [Blu-ray]
|Genre(s): Action / Drama / Science Fiction|
|Buena Vista || PG13 - 151 minutes - $29.99 || April 27, 2010|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-04-16|
Writer(s): Robert Roy Pool and Jonathan Hensleigh (story), Tony Gilroy and Shane Salerno (adaptation), Jonathan Hensleigh and J.J. Abrams (screenplay)
Cast: Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Liv Tyler, Ben Affleck, Will Patton, Peter Stormare, Keith David, Steve Buscemi, Owen Wilson, Michael Clarke Duncan
Theatrical Release Date: July 1, 1998
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I must admit, although it has been a few years since I watched Armageddon, I still feel it is one of the better disaster movies ever made, and no, it does not come close to a movie like The Poseidon Adventure. Is it shallow in its character development? Absolutely. Does the plot make any logical sense in terms of the science even by layman’s terms? Nope, most of the science is quite laughable. But lord help me, I still found all 150-minutes of this to be entertaining.
The story as you very well may know by now is simple: Giant asteroid. Hurtling towards Earth. Will kill mankind. Only man to save planet is oil driller Bruce Willis. Liv Tyler plays beautiful daughter. Ensemble cast of misfits. Some misfits will die. Like I said, simple...
There are too many reasons as to why I should absolutely hate Armageddon. The premise itself is laughable and the ensemble cast, despite some good talent, doesn’t really compare to other ensembles that have come before or since, but the film still somehow keeps me entertained from beginning to end and I have to say, Michael Bay manages to give the story some suspense even though you know what’s going to happen 30-minutes before it does.
Speaking of the ensemble cast, although none of them really give outstanding performances, all things considered, Bruce Willis once again stands out playing the rugged oil driller, the best driller on the world, the only guy who can save humanity. And that’s no small feat. Someone of Willis’ stature (at least back in 1998) resonates well enough for the audience to follow along and forget the lousy dialogue and questionable science that never quite adds up (of course, since when does Michael Bay care so long as sh*t blows up?).
The other actors following in Willis’ shadow do well enough with limited parts. Liv Tyler comes out the best giving a heartfelt performance as Willis’ semi-rebellious daughter while Ben Affleck manages to work off of Tyler to make at least a believable romantic connection. Then you have the forgettables: Will Patton plays Willis’ best friend and confidante; Michael Clarke Duncan in his first big role (this was before The Green Mile) plays up the big macho man with a softer side; Owen Wilson as a victim-in-waiting much like he was in Anaconda; Bay-staple Steve Buscemi as a wise-cracking genius; Peter Stormare as a crazy Russian; and lastly (but not least) Billy Bob Thornton taking on the thankless role as the guy who explains the entire plot to us in simple cinematic terms.
As for Michael Bay, the guy does deserve some crap for, well, putting out crap like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (the original, while not good, was passable) and its inane so-called story and characters that we don’t care about. Yes, Armageddon may not have the most memorable characters but at least we do care about their fate, even if it is predictable. That said, between this and The Rock, I still have a little respect for Bay unfortunately his slate of the Transformers movies doesn’t help his cause, at the same time they make a cruise load of money, so why should a studio disrupt the cash cow.
Overall, I can understand how many would dislike and even hate Armageddon because there are plenty of reasons why it should’ve failed, but as someone who doesn’t have too many guilty pleasures, I’ve allowed this to be one of them. I laughed at many of the unintentional funny moments yet still was interested in the outcome.
Interestingly, although there were several writers attached in some form, among them are J.J. Abrams (“Lost”, Mission: Impossible 3) and Tony Gilroy (Bourne Trilogy, Michael Clayton) as well as Jonathan Hensleigh (Punisher, Next).
Sadly the only features ported over from the Criterion Collection DVD are the teaser and theatrical trailers (5:45; SD) and the music video (4:59; SD) by Aerosmith. These were also on the original DVD release.
While I could understand that Buena Vista could not get the two commentary tracks (and maybe even the director’s cut) as they were no doubt commissioned and paid for by Criterion, what about the deleted scenes and gag reel? Guess I will be holding onto my Criterion copy after all...
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
Armageddon finally gets a proper video transfer as the Criterion DVD merely has the archaic non-anamorphic widescreen. The video is presented in the film’s original 2.35 aspect ratio and now in 1080p high-definition. I have to say that for the most part this was a fairly impressive transfer. First, it doesn’t look or feel like it went through some washer removing any details and/or natural film grain and instead presenting the film as originally intended with some regular noise here and there through some darker scenes (blues especially brought it out) as well as black levels that at times may look crushed but no doubt given Michael Bay’s style, was intended. I paid special attention to the detail levels on the actors’ faces and everything looks very clear with no noticeable distortions or blemishes.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Track meanwhile sounds good but doesn’t pack as much of a heavy weight as I had expected especially for a Michael Bay action-fest such as this. No doubt portions of the film are nice and clear with good dialogue levels as well as a good use of each channel especially ambient noises coming from the rear channels while the main action making use of the front and center channels. The bigger disappointment (and I use that word loosely) is the subwoofer doesn’t have much of a kick compared to other Blu-rays, but overall it’s a good audio track, just nothing spectacular.
There are plenty of reasonable rationales to hate and even despise Michael Bay’s Armageddon. The characters are fairly cookie-cutter and clichéd while the story doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but at the same time, I enjoyed it from beginning to end. It also helps that given its time (now 12 years), the visual and special effects still hold up well even against the advancement of the technology. As for the Blu-ray, the audio and picture both feature solid transfers but the lack of extras is disappointing.