Overview: NASA and a group of untrained for space drillers as they try to save the world from an enormous meteor hurtling towards them. 1998; Buena Vista Pictures; PG-13; 150 Minutes (Try to be as brief and direct as possible with the overview.)
The Characters: Armageddon, one of Michael Bay’s earlier films, offers up a surprisingly star-studded cast. The main focus of the film is oilman-turned-astronaut Harry Stamper played by Bruce Willis, with supporting actors like Ben Affleck, Billy Bob Thorton, Liv Tyler, and William Fichtner. In typical Michael Bay fashion, most of these actors play shallow stereotypes such as the get-it-done commanding officer, the Russian, the idiot, and the slightly crazy one. Not to mention the forbidden love conflict between the protective father, the distant daughter and the charming boyfriend, a formula even Bay himself recycles later in Transformers: Age of Extinction.
The cast members do their best to just have fun with the characters they’re given, but they really have nothing to play off of other than their one-note character traits. Some of these characters have family-centric subplots, but ultimately, the movie’s main plot leaves these stories behind at rocket speed.
Baymageddon: This is only Michael Bay’s third feature film, but a few of his trademark techniques are already apparent in Armageddon. The cheesy romantic dialogue and Bay’s song choices will leave a lasting impact on you. There’s also Bay’s unique brand of hit-or-miss humor. Most of the time, it works through the actors’ delivery and timing, but some jokes render a painfully awkward silence. For example, Steve Buscemi’s character is often employed within a scene just to crack a disturbing sexual joke. The film is full of those over-exaggerated explosions and crashes for which Bay is known. Some of them make for great eye candy, but there are a number of times that you’re just watching objects senselessly explode for a couple consecutive minutes, and that gets to be quite boring.
So Bad, It’s Good: Even though I acknowledge all the negative aspects of the movie, I still can’t help but watch it every time it’s on screen (I’ve watched the movie three times since last October). I almost admire how laughably bad the romance subplot is and how the rest of the movie is unapologetically dumb as it hurtles through scenes without developing anything, seemingly constructed to cater to people with short attention spans. And I still find myself really enjoying it. The film is the epitome of cannon fodder; it’s quick and meaningless, but also serves its purpose as an enjoyable disaster movie.
Overall: For viewers willing to get past the now-expected flaws, and allow Michael Bay to ceaselessly rain down stereotypes and explosions, the film can be quite the exhilarating ride.