09  SEP
It's Closer Than You Think.

Directed by  Michael Bay
Written by  Jonathan Hensleigh, Jeffrey Abrams, Robert Roy Pool
Starring:  Bruce Willis (Harry S. Stamper)
Liv Tyler (Grace Stamper)
Ben Affleck (A.J. Frost)
Steve Buscemi (Rockhound)
Will Patton (Charles 'Chick' Chapple)
Billy Bob Thornton (Dan Truman)
Runtime: 144 minutes

Armageddon is another movie that deals with an asteroid that is going to collide with Earth and destroy life on all the planet. Last year, Deep Impact completely missed the point and wasted two hours on a lame plot that obviously ended in an unlikely positive way. Now the same basic idea is handled in a more sensible way and the movie is more watchable, although in the end the result is almost the same, that is, an exaggerated space action movie where intelligence is a bonus.

The movie, which begins with a few nice scenes of New York being hit by a number of small asteroids, deals with the effort of the NASA to destroy a much bigger asteroid before it will hit Earth. To do so, two crews of expert drillers are sent to the asteroid (using specially equipped shuttles) and their mission is to drop a nuclear bomb inside the asteroid so that it will be split in two parts that will both miss our beloved planet.

I'd like to consider the positive points first, not only because there are very few of them but also because they are almost entirely concentrated in the first half of the movie. In fact, at first, the movie is very entertaining and the characters, albeit monodimensional, are the source of many laughs. The training sessions at NASA reminded me of Spies Like Us with Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd which is a good thing, especially considering how the movie will then evolve into pointless action.

The presence in the cast of Liv Tyler and the resulting love story (that is a must in every 'standard' movie...), is partly justified because it gives more clues to the personality of the two main characters and to their reciprocal interaction. However, once the space mission begins, her fake crying becomes a bit monotonous and I started wondering if she has been chosen only because her father (Stephen Tyler, leader of the rock band Aerosmith) provided most of the soundtrack...

The beginning of the mission is spectacular for the special visual effects, such as the take off of the two shuttles and the explosion of the MIR but then things start getting worse under every point of view. First of all, the events become more and more unlikely, featuring all the cliches of the genre, including the overused "should I cut the red or the blue wire" during the disarming of a nuclear bomb! Even the special effects are not perfect, the gravity on the asteroid looks too similar to the gravity on Earth (although they say it is much weaker) and this is especially evident and annoying when something falls or is thrown.

The most irritating thing is the lack of courage of the writers regarding the dramatic parts. For example, even if a shuttle crashes on the asteroid, only a few secondary characters die, the others have just one more chance to save the mission and destroy the asteroid. Speaking about the asteroid, would you believe that the bomb managed to split it exactly as predicted even if they drilled in the wrong place and even if the rotation of the asteroid changed unexpectedly?

I can go on criticizing the actors, the characters, the plot holes, the lame idea of the heroes pushed by this movie, but most of these things were obvious and predictable even before entering the cinema. In the end, while Armageddon is somewhat better than Deep Impact (and, incidentally, completely different under any point of view), it is still too stupid to be fully enjoyed by a mature audience, unless some special effects, explosions, Liv Tyler's tears and smiles and/or Bruce Willis' 'intense' facial expression are enough for you...

Rating: 5.8  **

Links:  Official Site




© Copyright Sergio Monesi, 1997-1999.
Last updated: 25 Jun 1999