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A low earth orbit space station is in the middle of a repair mission with the space shuttle when an unforeseen meteor shower obliterates them both. This sudden event sends fireballs hurtling to Earth and scientists scurrying to telescopes. An amateur astronomer is the first to spy a gigantic fireball headed towards the planet and notifies NASA. Turner informs the president of the asteroid and describes it as being "the size of Texas," a planet-killer. With eighteen days to impact, NASA frantically tries to find a solution but ends up turning to an outside contractor. Harry Stamper and his team of oilmen are called upon to save the planet as only they can.
For more about Armageddon and the Armageddon Blu-ray release, see Armageddon Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on April 21, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Director: Michael Bay
Writers: J.J. Abrams, Tony Gilroy, Jonathan Hensleigh, Shane Salerno
Starring: Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, Will Patton, Steve Buscemi
» See full cast & crew
Armageddon Blu-ray Review
You know you loved it when you were younger...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, April 21, 2010
Close your eyes. Take a deep, soothing breath and let your shoulders relax. Now drift back with me twelve years, all the way back to the hot, sticky summer of 1998. Feel the rough texture of the theater seat beneath your legs and the icy breeze of a rickety air conditioner. Smell the sweet stench of butter-soaked popcorn and the stale air wafting in from the lobby. Hear the anxious chatter of the crowd and the clatter of the projector as it comes alive. Above all else, remember your introduction to director Michael Bay's Armageddon... before you declared yourself an authority on all things cinema, before you scoffed at films like Transformers 2 and Ninja Assassin, before you had a mortgage, two and a half kids, and more important things to do with your hard-earned cash. Remember how much fun you had? The laughs, the excitement, the awe? The sniffles you tried to hide at the end of the film? Don't get me wrong, Armageddon is as bloated, ungainly, and flawed in 2010 as it was twelve years ago, but we filmfans are notorious revisionists. Once upon a time, many of us loved Bay's end-of-the-world actioner. And while it may not be an enduring classic -- or, according to prevailing consensus, a particularly good film -- nostalgia often moves in mysterious ways.
A high-octane '90s Event Flick if there ever was one, Armageddon paints a somewhat exhausting tale of Earth's final days. Or what would have been Earth's final days were it not for the heroic efforts of a rough-n-rowdy pack of deep-core drillers -- among them hot-tempered boss Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis), rebellious risk-taker A.J. Frost (Ben Affleck), loyal right-hand man Charlie "Chick" Chapple (Will Patton), lumbering muscle Bear (Michael Clarke Duncan), squirrelly geologist Rockhound (Steve Buscemi), and reluctant ladies' man Oscar (Owen Wilson) -- tasked with planting a nuclear bomb on a massive asteroid hurtling toward the planet. Given less than two weeks to learn from NASA's finest (including Billy Bob Thornton, William Fichtner, Jason Issacs, Jessica Steen, and others), Stamper's blue-collar boys strap in for a rocky ride. But first, Stamper has to come to terms with the fact that his daughter (Liv Tyler) is in love with A.J., the team members have to prove themselves to the decision makers and shrinks at NASA, and the dirty-nailed drillers and pencil-pushing engineers have to overcome all odds to blow up an asteroid the size of Texas. What follows? Snazzy special effects obliterate entire cities. Space stations erupt in flames. Shards of space rock assault the drillers. And one of many mishaps force Stamper and his weary, homesick colleagues to sacrifice one of their own. Rolling your eyes? Eh, Michael Bay's flashbang action-epics aren't for everyone. Suffice to say, suspension of disbelief isn't just helpful, it's a prerequisite.
There are moments when it seems as if Armageddon will never end; scenes in which logic is tarred, feathered, and paraded about the screen for all to see; entire sequences in which Bay and screenwriters J.J. Abrams and Jonathan Hensleigh wander aimlessly through the wilderness of the drillers' personal lives. Subplots could have been exorcised, characters simplified, action beats brought back down to Earth, dialogue tuned, heavy-handed sentiment lightened, special effects refined, plotting tightened, pacing drastically improved, length cut by more than a half an hour... I could go on and on. Armageddon isn't a perfect spectacle by any means, nor is it above the criticism that's been leveled at it time and time again over the years. However, anyone who's willing to switch off the left hemisphere of their brain long enough to sink into Bay's cheeseball sci-fi dramedy will have a blast. Sharp gags arrive early and often, and Willis and his castmates tackle every wry joke and loaded setup with abandon. Action scenes are both amusing and intense, and the director literally throws every flaming bus, brick, and body into the chaotic mix. The characters are fairly endearing as well. Bay's drillers and astronauts may be little more than comicbook outcasts, but they aren't without memorable quirks and charms. Buscemi is hilarious, Willis works his stoicism for laughs, Affleck exudes cocky swagger, and Thornton lends welcome gravitas to the proceedings.
And therein lies the challenge of approaching Big Dumb Fun like Armageddon. Should every film be a gritty, realistic drama? Should a cinephile reject a colorful, over-the-top thrill ride simply because it doesn't take itself so seriously? Can one man's drivel legitimately be another man's guilty pleasure? Or yet another man's favorite '90s blockbuster? The quality of a film, just like any art form, is in the eye of the beholder. Taken on its own terms, Armageddon excels. It encapsulates everything that's made Michael Bay the successful filmmaker he is today. It may be loud, flashy, and overbearing to some, but to others it's an entertaining, hyperkinetic doomsday-romp; a flick that grossed half-a-billion dollars at the worldwide box office, wormed its way into many a home video collection, and even earned the honor of being one of the lone summer blockbusters to sneak into Criterion's hallowed catalog. If it sounds like I'm mounting an impassioned defense of Big Dumb Fun, well... it's because I am. I loathe Crank and its ilk, but I work to leave room for those who dig its carnivorous stylings. I can't get enough of Ninja Assassin even though some found it to be unbearable. And I still have a place in my heart for Armageddon despite the fact that, at thirty, I finally see what people began grumbling about when I was eighteen. It may not be as easy to swallow as it once was, it isn't as funny or engaging as the first time I saw it, and its special effects and formulaic, summer-glistened wares are certainly showing their age, but as I said, nostalgia moves in mysterious ways.
Armageddon Blu-ray, Video Quality
Rest easy, Armageddoneers. Disney's 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer is strong enough to satisfy anyone hoping to scour Bruce Willis' closeups for every last pore. In true Michael Bay style, vibrant splashes of color, striking primaries, and inky blacks transform every scene into a living, breathing videogame. Fiery oranges and icy blues illuminate Earth's darkest hour, and bold flashes of light and dazzling explosions light up the screen. Moreover, overall detail is quite impressive, sharp textures reveal more pocks and wrinkles than Affleck and his cohorts might appreciate, a faint veneer of grain permeates the proceedings, and object definition is crisp and clean. Several shots are surprisingly soft -- primarily during key special effects sequences -- but I suspect any such shortcomings trace back to the film's source rather than some mysterious technical oversight. As it stands, I didn't encounter any significant artifacting, aliasing, smearing, or ringing, and source noise, though apparent in a few fleeting shots, never became a distraction. If anything, the image is a bit flat on occasion. For the most part, depth and dimensionality are more than commendable, but each one falters at one point or another. While it certainly isn't a debilitating issue (and while I'm sure the film's age plays a part), it's worth noting nonetheless. Regardless, Armageddon looks great for a twelve-year old catalog title and should turn its share of heads.
Armageddon Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Disney has armed Armageddon with a consistent, able-bodied DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track that, quite frankly, obliterates its lossy DVD counterparts. While it didn't leave a crater in the middle of my home theater, it still managed to make a respectable impression. Dialogue remains clear, intelligible, and nicely prioritized throughout, even when Trevor Rabin's score dominates the action and madness erupts around our wily deep-core drillers. Likewise, LFE output is sturdy and stable, infusing streaking meteorites, scattering debris, toppling skyscrapers, and Earth-shaking explosions with decent power and presence. Rear speaker activity, despite being rather reserved at times, effectively drops the listener in the middle of countless panicking crowds and a room full of murmuring NASA engineers. But even though Bay's sound design occasionally favors the front channels -- especially during the boys' training and testing sessions -- there are still plenty of moments when the sound design commandeers the entire soundfield, relishing in every morsel of destruction the director tosses his insatiable audience. Did I forget to mention that pans are swift and smooth, separation is notable, and dynamics are primed to please? All in all, Armageddon's lossless mix complements its video transfer and helps rejuvenate Bay's asteroid-actioner.
Armageddon Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Unfortunately, the Blu-ray edition of Armageddon only includes a music video for Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" (SD, 5 minutes) and a pair of theatrical trailers (SD, 6 minutes). The cast and crew commentary, deleted scenes, featurettes, and interviews that first appeared on Criterion's remarkable 2-disc DVD release are nowhere to be found, and the disc suffers as a result. (For those who've never had the pleasure, the Criterion edition is well worth renting, if for no other reason than to listen to Ben Affleck crack endless jokes at Michael Bay's expense.) Still, it's not as if Disney could have easily obtained the Criterion-exclusive content, so its absence is hardly a surprise.
Armageddon Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Overcrowded, overwrought, and overblown, Armageddon is nevertheless a popcorn-munching guilty pleasure. Chalk it up to Michael Bay's knack for assembling a great ensemble cast or his ability to chain together a memorable string of explosions, but his apocalyptic action dramedy is as fun as it is flawed. Luckily, no apologies or excuses are necessary when praising the Blu-ray edition's AV presentation. Loaded with an excellent video transfer and a capable DTS-HD Master Audio track, Disney's latest is only hindered by a truly pitiful supplemental package. Still, late '90s action junkies and members of Bay's devoted fold shouldn't have any serious hangups when considering this solid catalog release.
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Armageddon Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Deal Alert: Armageddon and Tombstone Blu-ray for $16 (Expired) - June 1, 2010
The price of two recent Blu-ray catalog titles from Disney, Armageddon and Tombstone, has just dropped on Amazon to $12.99, matching Best Buy. But what makes this a red-hot deal is that the etailer still is offering a $10 discount when ordering both titles. As ...
• Armageddon and Tombstone Blu-ray Detailed - March 14, 2010
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has officially announced and detailed the Blu-ray releases of two catalog titles from its Touchstone library: the Michael Bay scifi/action movie Armageddon and the western Tombstone, which, as previously reported, will hit ...
• Buy Armageddon and Tombstone Blu-ray, Save $10 - March 1, 2010
Amazon has an unadvertised promotion going for the upcoming Blu-ray editions of Armageddon and Tombstone. If you preorder both titles together, you will get an additional $10 off at checkout, making the total $32.98 for the two movies at the time of writing. There ...
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