Tuesday, July 5, 2011


I had forgotten how much fun (and how fucking silly) Armageddon really is as an action flick.  It's so Looney Tunes-preposterous that it's tough to lodge any rational, narrative-based complaints -- it's a movie made by man-children for little boys who like to play with toys.  At the time, Michael Bay was shooting his most expensive film to date with Armageddon ($140 million in 1997 dollars), and it still shows -- the film is enormous in scale, with some truly outstanding setpieces, including a particularly riveting escape-from-an-exploding-space-station that is still dazzling (and recalls aspects of Wolfgang Petersen's Das Boot) despite years of advancements in special effects.  Yes, the film is incredibly cheesy and hokey and most of the dialogue is tremendously on-the-nose, but you know what -- it all works like gangbusters.  It's as American as apple pie, hot dogs and hamburgers, family cookouts, and trips to the ballpark.  It's an emotional, overly sentimental blockbuster that Bay and Bruckheimer collaborated on right after the success of The Rock (still Bay's best film; I doubt he'll ever come close to it again) and it demonstrated Bay's ability to make a seemingly R-rated product on a studio-friendly PG-13 rating.  It also features some eerie scenes of NYC destruction that show a flaming WTC -- three years before 9/11 -- so odd and scary.  The funniest aspect certainly has to be the absurdly high-end roll-call of Hollywood writers who worked on the script:  JJ Abrams, Robert Towne, Jonathan Hensleigh, Steven Zaillian, Tony Gilroy, Robert Pool, and Shane Salerno (just to name a few) were all either credited or uncredited writers on the film, and it shows in spades.  Some scenes are overwritten, some are underwritten, some are funny, others aren't when they're trying to be --  all Bay trademarks.  But what Armageddon really showed, that Pearl Harbor would later cement, was that Bay was putting a serious stamp being put on Hollywood action films, a style that has now become instantly recognizable to anyone who's been going to the movies ever summer for the last 15 years.  Love or hate him, he's an auteur in the truest sense of the word. 

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