As I’ve debated film with various critics over the years, I’ve found that there’s one movie, more than any other, that tends to divide people and elicit strong emotions on both sides. That movie is the 1998 summer blockbuster ARMAGEDDON. There are people that absolutely despise this film and even though I’m not one of them, I can’t say I disagree with their opinion. There’s no reason to like this movie; the plot is ridiculous, the acting is average, the directing is overly sentimental and stylized, and the list goes on. But at the end of the day, I still love this film.
Although the “plot” (I can’t say that seriously when talking about this movie) has been well debated and discussed over the years, the basic gist of it is that there’s a giant meteor heading towards earth and the only hope for survival is to send a team to drill into the center of the meteor, splitting it into two pieces and sending the pieces away from earth. That alone is absurd, but to make it worse, NASA decides to send oil drillers up into space rather than astronauts. Because why wouldn’t they?
So you may have already noticed by my high rating that I really like this film. So the pressure is on me to try and justify why. The word “fun” comes to mind, but that diminishes the film a little bit. Yes, it is fun and yes, we need mindless summer blockbusters just as much as we need historical dramas and animated kids movies. But Michael Bay managed to create characters that the audience not only can relate to, but that we genuinely care about. I rode the wave of emotions along with Harry’s crew as they achieved success and experienced loss. It was intense and although Bay has plenty of shortcomings, he should be commended for crafting the film in a manner that captivated the audience to the point they forgot how unbelievable the plot was.
In typical Michael Bay form, there’s an overly sentimental scene towards the end that features Mr. Affleck bursting out in tears and this scene is usually what people point to when trashing the film. Even Affleck’s buddy, Kevin Smith uses it to poke fun at Ben on many occasions. If you walk into a room and see this scene by itself, it will make you laugh at how bad it is. But in the context of the movie, I always find myself caught up in the moment and getting choked up along with him. There’s something about it that just really fits into the movie and even though every bone in my body is saying it’s ridiculous, I still find myself loving it.
I remember when this originally came out at theaters; I took the day off from my summer job to catch an early showing. I loved it then and I continue to love it today. I know the film has problems and a plot that makes me laugh just thinking about it, but Bay managed to tell a story with great characters and great style that made up for it.
Video: For those that own either version on DVD, you know that ARMAGEDDON was never presented in an anamorphic widescreen video transfer. So this is the by far and away an upgrade over anything you’ve ever seen. The video is just beautiful and it was great to see that the transfer was done so well.
Audio: We’ve had decent audio transfers before, but this once again is a drastic improvement. The dialogue and the Bay-sized sound effects boomed throughout.
Aside from a music video, this disc is completely bare bones. The Blu-ray gets a “4” because we know what they could have included on this transfer and didn’t. I don’t know if there were some licensing issues with the former Criterion release, but at least a couple of featurettes or deleted scenes would have been nice.