Combustible Celluloid
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With: Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, Will Patton, Steve Buscemi, William Fichtner, Owen Wilson, Michael Clarke Duncan, Peter Stormare, Ken Hudson Campbell, Jessica Steen, Keith David, Chris Ellis, Jason Isaacs, Grayson McCouch, Grace Zabriskie, Eddie Griffin, Udo Kier, Charlton Heston (narrator)
Written by: Jonathan Hensleigh, J.J. Abrams, Tony Gilroy, Shane Salerno, Robert Roy Pool
Directed by: Michael Bay
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi disaster action, sensuality and brief language
Running Time: 150
Date: 06/30/1998

Armageddon (1998)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Rock and Holes

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Michael Bay (The Rock, Pearl Harbor), Armageddon is a super-packaged product, designed and marketed rather than created. It's noisy, glossy, and excessive, and more than a tad simplistic -- but it's also nearly irresistible. It has a huge cast of stars and character actors, all playing instantly likeable misfits and outsiders that grab our affections and never let go.

A giant asteroid ("the size of Texas") threatens to wipe out everything and everyone on Earth. NASA chief Dan Truman (Billy Bob Thornton) cooks up a crazy, last-ditch plan involving a crack team of drillers, led by Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis). They will board a rocket, land on the asteroid, drill an 800-foot hole, and plant a nuclear bomb, splitting the asteroid in two before it can reach the Earth. Many complications arise, including overshooting the landing site, and a case of space dementia. But Harry becomes most perturbed when he realizes that his best right-hand man, A.J. (Ben Affleck) is secretly in love with his beloved daughter Grace (Liv Tyler).

The cliffhanger setups and payoffs come right out of the silent era, complete with ticking clocks counting down to the last second, but these creaky old devices still work like gangbusters. The movie's major drawback is that it cheerfully plays with the terrifying concept of the complete extinction of everything and everyone on Earth. Younger and sensitive viewers who think a little too much about this setup may find themselves lying awake for nights afterward.

Blu-Ray Details: Disney's 2010 Blu-Ray release looks really spectacular, even on the small screen. It's presented in the theatrical cut, which is just a couple of minutes shorter than the director's cut released on the Criterion DVD. This release is also missing most of the extras from that deluxe disc, except the Aerosmith music video ("I Don't Want to Miss a Thing").

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