Armageddon (1998)

Before we all die, at least we can take some pleasure knowing that we’ll be treated to the lovely sounds of Steven Tyler.

After NASA catches wind of a meteor the size of Texas heading straight for Earth, executive director Dan Truman (Billy Bob Thornton) cobbles up a plan: Get a crew on the meteor, drill a hole through it, and leave a nuke in there so that it can break off into two pieces and still miss the Earth by a small bit. It’s a smart plan, but the only problem is finding out who’s right for it. In walks oil-driller Harry S. Stamper (Bruce Willis) who Truman recruits for this mission because the ship plan is the same one Stamper uses on his own oil rig. Though Stamper is initially hesitant to take on such a huge, daring mission, he eventually decides to take it, but on one condition: He gets to choose the crew that goes with him. In walks the rest of his rag-tag group of dysfunctional nut-balls that either love prostitutes (Steve Buscemi), love to smash things (Michael Clarke Duncan), or love Stamper’s own daughter (Ben Affleck). Though not everybody feels alright with this change, they don’t have any other plan to go along with. Meaning, it’s all up to these guys to save the world and all of mankind.

Not much of a burden if you think about it really, you know?

Well, well, well. Here it is, everybody! The movie I swore I would never, ever watch again after seeing it numerous times as a little kid, all because back then, I knew it was total junk. But for some reason, curiosity killed the cat in my case and I just could not help myself; I had to see if this movie got any better with age, and also, whether or not my tolerance for mostly all things Michael Bay would have anything to do with any change in feelings toward this.

He would have done anything to say "Yippie-Kay-Ya".
He would have done anything to say “Yippie-Kay-Ya”.

Needless to say, they sort of do. But not by much. Here’s why:

See, though I like to give Bay the benefit of the doubt on most cases for blowing all sorts of shit up and taking absolute pleasure in doing it, I felt like this was total over-kill. And yes, even by his standards, that means a lot. Then again, I may be getting ahead of myself here, because most of the explosions occur during the last hour-and-a-half of this movie. As for the first hour of this movie, we’re “treated” to watching a bunch of clichés act like nuts, talk goofy, get some back-story on what makes them the slightest bit of “human”, and try to have us believe that they could actually be smart, trained, and neutered astronauts in a near 18 days, but actually be trusted in saving our whole race from extinction.

And while I’m all for a movie being silly for the sake of making people laugh, this was not that kind of silly – it was just downright dumb. What makes it even worse is that the cast here is pretty damn talented – actually, scratch that, it’s an unbelievably stacked ensemble that, with any other movie/director, would have me rushing the gates as soon as I caught wind of it happening, but not here. Especially not with Michael Bay, the kind of guy who takes pleasure in taking these incredibly talented, wonderful screen-presences, and making them his wild, wacky, and near-racist guinea pigs.

Then again though, in the world of Hollywood, money really does talk, so I guess I can’t be getting on Bay’s case too much for just getting along with the times and following the path set out for him.

Still though, that doesn’t excuse giving somebody as wonderfully charming as Steve Buscemi a role in which he just makes stupid comments about hookers, having sex, dying, not being crazy, menstrual cycles, and going absolutely nuts while shooting a machine gun. And yes, while that all may sound incredibly amusing to some of you out there, I can assure you, it’s totally not. It’s just downright corny and seems like Bay is trying way, way too hard to make us laugh at anything; so much so, that he’s willing to embarrass the hell out of some of the most respected talents in the biz.

Also, he uses this comedy to break up all of the nonsensical violence, loud noises and explosions that occur during the last half-hour which, coming from a Michael Bay-standpoint, is relatively impressive. Though, nearly 16 years after the fact, some of it looks a bit dated, you can tell Bay really pays attention to the constant vibrancy he has behind the camera and how he makes this movie look. Sure, it’s frantic and you can almost count how long Bay holds a shot for (don’t worry, it’s two seconds or so each), but it does show you that he’s the kind of director that works well with this stuff.

However, with this stuff here, there’s just way too much. Too much double-crossing; too much dumb humor; too much poor script-writing; too much explosions; too much of random things happening only to make the plot seem more dense and the movie run-time a little longer; just too much of everything really. And yes, while I do admit to being on Bay’s side for this very same reason in most movies, this is not one of them. For some reason, it just felt different this time and rather than laughing and having a great time, I was just laughing, only in a way to pass the time of my complete boredom with the same things happening again, and again, and again.

All that was missing was a bottle of Jack and some Funyuns to make life a whole lot less depressing.

Love and animal crackers: It's the combo you never thought you'd never thought you need.
Love and animal crackers: It’s the combo you never thought you’d need.

Like I mentioned before, too, Bay really does have a knack for getting together an interesting cast, it’s just such a shame that he gives them so very little to do. And even when he does give them anything to do, it’s utter garbage that only makes it seem like the actor in question was in desperate need of another shore house. For instance, despite being practically the perfect role for Bruce Willis in which he has to play a tough, rough, and masculine-as-hell man (with an in-and-out Southern accent), somehow, the writing is so cheesy and godawful for this guy, that everything that comes out of Willis’ mouth seems like he’s having a hard time reading anything at all. Not just because he can’t believe the trash that he’s reading, but because he forgot his glasses on the counter at home.

And heck, I wish I could say the same for Ben Affleck, but man, this kid is terrible here. I know that Big Ben has cleaned his act up now and is a pretty respected guy out there, but any reason why anybody thought he was just a young talent, with barely any of the later at all, were totally correct when they saw this. Which is a shame because watching Affleck, you can see a guy that’s trying really hard, but just doesn’t have the skills yet to really deliver on all of the sobbing and screaming he has to deliver on. It just seems like he’s in a parody of the type of movie that he’s in. You know, a parody of a Michael Bay movie, in which every character has an IQ of 38, has women-troubles, likes to cuss, say dumb stuff, act silly, and at the end of the day, still be able to save the world, all while chanting “USA! USA! USA!”.

Yep, that’s Michael Bay for ya: Praising America, one over-budgeted mess at a time.

Consensus: Though much of Armageddon is what you expect to get from a Michael Bay movie, there’s still no denying how incredibly hard it is to believe anything that happens in this movie, nor enjoy one’s self when all there is a explosion, after explosion, after explosion, with barely any end in sight.

3 / 10 = Crapola!!

If these are our saviors, we're fucked.
If these are our saviors, we’re fucked.

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images


  1. Aww I don’t know man, it’s not that bad. I also watched this numerous times as a kid but it’s now left me with a real fondness for this massively stupid yet hugely entertaining movie. I wrote about all the things I like about it here if you’re interested.

    • I actually read yours when I did a search online. I can see why you love it so much, but for me, I don’t know. Just didn’t work that way. Maybe I’m too miserable.

  2. I saw this a couple of times (in the cinema and on cable) and didn’t think it was a bad movie, it was pretty okay for a disaster film although a bit cliche. The best part was the soundtrack 😀 Great review!

  3. Great review Dan. I’ve always hated this film. Despite it’s all-out action and constant jokes/one-liners etc., I still find it incredibly boring. Probably about as boring as a film about oil drillers would be really! 🙂

    • Sadder still, I think that was their first #1 single!
      I believe this movie also has one of the great ‘hey, it’s that guy!’ character actors, William Fichtner.

      • A quick view to Wikipedia confirms you’re right. That steaming pile of a song was their first #1 and stayed there for FOUR WEEKS.

        And that, dear friends, was the beginning of the end for Aerosmith. One taste of that #1 and they’ve been dancing with outside writers and pop songs since.

    • Not as bad as the terrible song she wrote for KISS (who obviously wanted her to pen a hit for them after the success of Aerosmith’s “Armageddon” song).

  4. Nice review and I completely agree. I hated Armageddon from start to finish and it’s not helped by that tacky Aerosmith song, the worst of their catalog.

  5. Cool review yo. Wow, I’m checking out some of the comments here and I’ve never seen so much hate for this film in one place before. I never saw this as a kid, I ended up watching it around 4 or 5 years ago on TV and I didn’t think it was that bad. Nothing amazing or something I’d run to see again but I didn’t find it unwatchable. I may have to check the film out again to see if it is as bad as everyone here is saying it is.

    But answer me this: Is it worse than Transformers 2 & 3?

  6. This has to be the only movie I ever turned off while watching. I found it to be so boring, I like the idea and the cast line up seemed like a winner at first but they didn’t work good together. Most likely the bad direction this movie got had something to do with that. Maybe someday I’ll get around to suffering through it entirely, but not today, this year, or in the near future. Excellent review, Dan!

  7. You make a good point about how dumb jokes are added in at really tense action moments. I remember seeing this and I almost could have liked this if the whole ending was changed. This movie had no need for any dramatic moments. Good review

  8. Gawd I hate this movie. Everything you wrote about it is true except one thing. No one has the skill to pull off all the crap Affleck was asked to. The man can get great casts together because for all the crap us movie snobs give him, all of his films rake in a bajillion bucks at the box office. Finally, Armageddon wins my award for all time worse movie science. I’m still waiting for someone to explain how blowing up an asteroid from the inside is going to produce two perfectly even pieces that will fly that will both miss Earth. It’s a nuke, guys, not a Ginsu knife.

    • That’s what I was wondering. Even worse, why the hell would NASA just say, “Yeah sure”, to Willis’ character wanting his untrained, clearly unprofessional group of idiots to save the world? Oh wait, it’s a Michael Bay movie. Never mind. Get it now.

  9. Alright. I HAVE this be that guy and give it at least one positive comment. I know most of you are going to hate me for this but I love this movie. I have seen it probably a 100 times and I enjoy it for it is – an entertaining movie. Not a huge fan of the Aerosmith song but how can none of you love a group of misfits signing leaving on a jet plane? There are so many loveable characters in the movie and will get around to reviewing it one day so all you guys can come leave hate comments on my post. 😛 Great review Dan, always fun reading your stuff.

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