Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.



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Film #187


After discovering that an asteroid the size of Texas is going to impact Earth in less than a month, NASA recruits a misfit team of deep core drillers to save humanity.

Year 1, Day 184

BEFORE: It’s the end of 2012, and while there was no apocalypse, this marathon is bringing the next best thing, Michael Bay’s Armageddon. Based on my quick skimming of IMDb and Wikipedia, this seems like it will be a typical Michael Bay film: huge box office success while being universally panned by critics. Armageddon looks to have much more criticism though than Bay’s recent Transformers films and has earned a place as one of the most “scientifically inaccurate films” with NASA now regretting giving input to the film.

AFTER: When I saw Roger Ebert say,

Here it is at last, the first 150-minute trailer. Armageddon is cut together like its own highlights. Take almost any 30 seconds at random, and you’d have a TV ad.

I thought it could not possibly be that bad. I’ve seen a fair share of Michael Bay films and while none of them are close to being favorites, I’ve never regretted watching any of them. Armageddon goes beyond having no story and being just pure action/explosion/mayhem entertainment; it is utter chaos.

The entire backstory - the asteroid on a collision course with Earth, the need to have these professional drillers be the ones to go into space - is meaningless. The trailer for the film explains all of that in well under three minutes leaving you to wonder what the other 148 minutes of the film are. Well, it’s filled with explosions, a meaningless character development scene in the Pacific Ocean, explosions, a bad love story between A. J. (Ben Affleck) and Grace (Liv Tyler), and oh yeah, more explosions. The oil rig scene in the beginning of the film where the drillers are introduced is really pointless. Everything you learn is explained elsewhere in the film, and in case you were curious, is all there in the trailer to spoil yourself before the film.

But you may be thinking, “This is Michael Bay though. His stories are never that great, the reason to see his films is for the explosions and action.” Wrong. Well, you’re right in assuming that’s the reason for watching Armageddon, but even the action is terrible. And the whole reason the action is terrible is because the story is terrible. In films like Star Wars, Star Trek, or even Bay’s own Transformers to some degree, you don’t expect things to be realistic. The entire universe (Star Wars) or the premise of the films (Star Trek, Transformers) is obviously fictional, made-up, not even remotely possible in the near future. In these films seeing a Death Star, Klingon enemies, or monster fighting robots isn’t out of the ordinary and are things you can accept because the story itself requires you to take a leap of faith. WithArmageddon on the other hand, the story is based in fact, something that is very real and could even happen within two decades (before you freak out, the Apophis asteroid began with only a 2.7% chance of making impact in 2029 has now been reduced to a probability of 1 in 250,000). But the amount of times where I had my jaw open screaming, “What?!?” to myself far outnumbered the amount of times where I thought, “That seems right, I’ll buy that.”

I lost track of the number of times laws of physics and common sense were disregarded or just laughed to straight in the face. It’s not the little errors (or big errors depending on who you ask) like having sound or fire in space (when in reality sound is absent and you can’t have a fire without oxygen). My problems are with some pretty big and obvious issues the filmmakers didn’t even consider, or did and just didn’t care. Something like, I don’t know, the whole plan of stopping the asteroid from hitting Earth. I’ll accept the idea that one nuclear bomb would be able to separate the asteroid into two halves, although even that sounds sketchy to me. But the idea I cannot accept is that blowing it up into two havles with 100,000 miles of Earth and expect the two halves to: (a) just barely miss Earth and then; (b) disobey gravity and not slingshot around the back only to collide on the reverse side and send debris through the atmosphere. I’m no scientist but just using common sense, something in the equation doesn’t seem to compute.

Some other problems I have are with the timing of everything. The first is the planned refueling mission aboard the Russian space station. Just going by a little something called historical evidence, the last Space Shuttle mission STS-135 didn’t dock with the ISS until the third day (read: 48+ hours from liftoff, not less than 60 minutes). The other huge anomaly with historical evidence in the time it takes to get to the moon. With Apollo 11 it took four days to make the journey whereas these souped-up space shuttles manage to make the trip in just a matter of hours.

Armageddon doesn’t just have a bad story typical of Michael Bay films, but it fails to deliver on really big and awesome explosions and action scenes. Yes, a lot of stuff happens in the film and you see quite a few things get destroyed, but instead of sitting back and enjoying the fireworks show I was left scratching my head not believing anything I saw. Steer clear of Armageddon unless you want to laugh at all the scientific inaccuracies and see how a simple thing like physics can destroy an entire film.

RATING: 2 out of 5