Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media

Armageddon (1998)
Fox Home Video | Review by Dan Taylor

Four days before the release of this year’s most-anticipated blockbuster (THE PHANTOM AUDIENCE as The Gonster’s been calling it), I got around to watching ARMAGEDDON, 1998’s big box office winner.

Kids, I’ve seen some really stupid movies in my life. In fact, ER’s a mag borne of a love for and devoted to the very existence of stupid movies. But, if there’s one thing I simply can’t stand it's a stupid movie that purports to be serious yet succeeds in being incredibly insulting from the second the flick starts.

We all know the “story” at work here: an asteroid the size of Texas is going to hit the Earth in 18 days, so a group of roughnecks (aka deep oil drillers) are recruited by the US government to land on the giant space rock, drill 800-feet down into its core and place a nuclear explosive that will blow it into pieces small enough to pass by the planet. You know what? As absurd as that plot synopsis is to say, it’s even more ridiculous to WRITE!

Clocking in at a hefty two-and-a-half hours, ARMAGEDDON has the distinction of being the most uninteresting, unexciting action flick I’ve ever seen. Which would be bad enough if it wasn’t so goddamn insulting.

The flicks's most insulting aspects? Where the hell do I start? There’s Bruce Willis’ Incredible Disappearing Accent. Liv Tyler as the beautiful gal raised by the bevy of roughnecks rounded out by Will Patton, Steve Buscemi and the black guy who looks like Ving Rhames but isn’t. The absurd attempt at sensuality as Ben Affleck (CHASING AMY) shoves animal crackers down Liv’s panties. The pseudo-science that gives the asteroid its own orbit as well as the fact that people who aren’t wearing pressurized suits get sucked from the space shuttle like it’s AIRPORT ‘75, don’t explode in the giant vacuum of space and then drift around until they fly into the window of the OTHER space shuttle like they’re The Cow From TWISTER!

Did I forget to mention the fact that the “astronauts” are allowed to go out and raise hell the night before their big mission, the near destruction of NYC in the film’s opening minutes (an impressive show of effects work) doesn’t seem to raise much attention from the world press and the caricature of the Russian cosmonaut as a drunk, sweaty dude wearing a CCCP t-shirt?

It boggles my mind that this piece of crap made so much money and that there was talk of how heart-tugging the finale was! Is there anyone that didn’t know Bruce Willis’ character would sacrifice his life so that Liv and Ben could live happily ever after? Oh, and how come Liv’s pretty much given an “Access All Areas” pass to NASA just because her father’s on the shuttle mission? And, if the Earth really was in jeopardy of being destroyed by a giant asteroid, why did NASA take the time to have patches made up for the spacesuits?! Wouldn’t getting somebody up in space be a hell of a lot more important than a fucking fashion statement?

It’s too bad it takes ARMAGEDDON two full hours to get to its most interesting idea: fearing failure of the mission, a contingency plan is put in place to detonate the nukes remotely despite the fact that the dudes are still on the asteroid. Had THAT been the movie instead of a throwaway “oooooh, isn’t the government BAD!” trick maybe ARMAGEDDON would’ve been worth watching. Instead, it vaults to the top of my list of Insulting Flicks previously led by TOP GUN.

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