Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Who knew the end of the world would take so long?

There are action movies and then there are Michael Bay movies.  Something really separates the men from the boys on this one...though I'm not really saying that Bay's movies are more like men than boys here.  Rather there is a huge, slightly emotionally manipulative, highly illogical feel that comes with watching one of Bay's movies.  Granted, there's a reason he still is making movies...because sometimes you want something big, emotionally manipulative, and highly illogical to take your mind off of things.  From his first film, Bad Boys, to his latest, Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon...you can sense that there is a boy directing these films who is pretending to be a man (and I mean that in the nicest way possible).  Such is the case with one of Bay's biggest and longest productions, where he depicts a world about to be destroyed by a global killer asteroid and throws together a grab bag of personalities who are hell-bent to stop it.  This film was meant to be biblical in both scale and in topic, so its appropriate then that it is called Armageddon.

The film opens with a narration about the first time a 'global killer' hit the Earth.  The resulting shockwave and dust cloud decimated the population of life on the planet and plunged the planet into an ice age lasting several (hundred? thousand? million?) years.  Flash forward to present day (read: 1998) and a similar asteroid finds itself hurtling toward Earth.  The big bad rock will hit the planet in 16 days, preceeded by several small meteor showers that destroy large portions of famous world cities, and the government quick cobbles together a plan to save the planet.  They will send two space shuttles to the surface of the beast where the two teams will drill into the asteroid's core and deposit a nuclear device capable of cutting the beast in half and sending it harmlessly around the edges of the planet.  They must find a team who are capable of working under these conditions, however.  Enter Harry Stamper and his motley crew of oil drillers.  It seems Stamper had invented a drill for quick, undersea drilling (similar to the conditions in outerspace) and said design was stollen by the government.  They now need Stemper to tell them why it won't work...which eventually leads to him and his team having to go on the mission themselves.  What then transpires is a 12 day crash course in astronautics and finally the mission itself which proves to be more arduous and dangerous than any of them could have ever expected.

You know, for a movie about the urgency of the end being near...Armageddon certainly takes its sweet time.  This is one of those disaster movies that seems to think that it has enough character and emotional development to last 2 and a half hours when it's really more of an hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours worth of story.  Yes, there are some very good action set pieces....each one building upon the last....but there are too many of them.  There's a threshold of acceptability in an action/disaster film for allowing things to go wrong in order to increase suspense and raise stakes...but Armageddon takes this to an extreme.  Every 5 minutes, something fails or goes wrong, leading me to wonder if this isn't the worst planned space mission in history.  Granted, they do throw it together fairly quickly...but they could still have someone check that Mir's fuel pump isn't gonna blow up the day they need it or that the nuclear bomb has several failsafes on it.  Just sayin.  Is Armageddon fun?  Sure...but like most things that overstay their welcome...it is a bit too much fun and in the end (when it FINALLY does end) we're more anxious to leave the party than we are to stay (though I'll admit, I cried toward the end due to the emotional manipulation).  Do with that what you will?

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