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Armageddon (Blu-ray Review)

23 Apr, 2010 By: John Latchem

Street 4/27/10
$29.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sci-fi disaster action, sensuality and brief language.
Stars Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Billy Bob Thornton, Liv Tyler, Owen Wilson, Michael Clarke Duncan, Will Patton, Steve Buscemi, William Fichtner, Peter Storemare, Keith David, Jessica Steen, Chris Ellis.

There’s a phenomenon that pops up in certain movies, if they are big enough, that if you see them enough you can filter out the weak moments and focus on the strong, regardless of how good or bad the movie as the whole might be.

Michael Bay’s Armageddon is by no means a great film. It’s loud, over the top and filled with scientific and technical inaccuracies. In fact, Armageddon is probably most emblematic for the director’s reputation for mindless explosions. And yet, if you see it enough times, there are moments you don’t mind watching again.

With a giant asteroid plowing toward Earth, NASA recruits Bruce Willis and his team of oil drillers to go to the big rock, plant a nuke in its core and blow it to hell.

For the first hour, which depicts NASA discovering the asteroid and training Willis and crew, the movie is a lot of fun. The actors seem to be having a good time, the dialogue has an irreverent flow to it and the story shows promise.

And then they launch.

In its second hour, when the setting shifts to outer space, Armageddon turns into a cliché action movie that takes itself too seriously, kills off untold nameless characters, wastes time mourning these redshirts about whom the audience couldn’t care less and proceeds through a series of contrived obstacles that do little but drag out the inevitable conclusion.

Then again, this film and its director have a clear cult following for which the numerous flaws are not an issue. It was a huge hit when it came out in 1998 (outgrossing that other hit asteroid movie, Deep Impact), and Michael Bay’s career is certainly none the worse for wear, despite the best effort of the critics.

The film looks awesome on Blu-ray, but leaves a lot to be desired in the extras department. A two-disc Criterion DVD released in 1999 was loaded with bonus content, such as two commentaries, special-effects breakdowns, deleted scenes, a gag reel and more. It’s too bad none of this content made it to the Blu-ray version. All the Blu-ray has are trailers and the Aerosmith music video for “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” (which, surprisingly, was the band’s first No. 1 hit).

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