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Armageddon is a disaster/science fiction-action film about a group of blue-collar deep-core drillers who are sent by NASAmarker to stop an Asteroid on a collision course with Earth. It was directed by Michael Bay, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, and released on Disney's Touchstone Pictures label. It stars Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, Michael Clarke Duncan, Peter Stormare and Steve Buscemi.

Armageddon arrived in theaters only two and a half months after a similar impact-based movie, Deep Impact, which starred Morgan Freeman. Astronomers described Deep Impact as being more scientifically accurate,, but Armageddon fared better at the box office. They were about equally well-received by critics (Armageddon scoring 41% and Deep Impact scoring 46% on the Tomatometer).

Due to a fire that destroyed the master print of the film, if Armageddon were to be released on Blu-ray, it would have to be remastered.

Plot

After several meteoroids destroy the Space Shuttle Atlantis and bombard New York Citymarker and several other parts of the world, NASAmarker discovers that an asteroid the size of Texasmarker will collide with Earth in 18 days at 22,000 miles per hour, destroying all life. The scientists at NASA in cooperation with the Russian, Japanese and French space agencies plan to detonate a nuclear bomb at a precise point under the asteroid's surface which will split it in two, causing it to miss the Earth. The bombs must be buried at least 800 feet below the surface within eight hours of landing, and no later than four hours before Earth impact.

NASA locates the best oil driller on the planet, Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis), to get advice. When invited to NASA, Harry brings his daughter Grace (Liv Tyler) to keep her away from A.J. (Ben Affleck), a young rambunctious member of Harry's crew who has become - to Harry's unfortunate surprise - her lover, which angers him. Head of NASA Dan Truman (Billy Bob Thornton) informs Harry of the dire situation. Harry recognizes that he and his crew must accompany the astronauts to ensure the job is done properly. After Harry's crew is collected and NASA acquiesces to their demands, they are put through a 12-day training program and outfit a drilling rig with the proper equipment.

After a meteorite strikes Shanghai, China, destroying the city and causing a tsunami, the incoming asteroid and pending mission are revealed to the world. Two military shuttles, Freedom and Independence, are launched and dock at a Russian space station (crewed by Lev Andropov) to refuel with liquid oxygen propellant. A.J. encounters a problem stopping the pumps after the ships' tanks are full and the station explodes. The crews and Lev Andropov escape. Later, the two shuttles perform a high G-force powered slingshot procedure around the Moon, traveling at 22,500 miles per hour to tail behind the asteroid.

As they enter the asteroid's wake, the Independence is struck and crash-lands on the asteroid, killing most of its crew. The Freedom lands on the surface but misses the target landing zone, arriving on an area of hard iron which will be difficult to drill through. The Freedom team tries to drill but suffers several setbacks and losses due to unexpected conditions. After losing communication with Earth, the mission is put on hold, as the bomb's timer is activated by orders from the United States President to ensure the mission succeeds. However, a surface explosion would not be sufficient to divert the asteroid. Harry convinces Colonel Sharp to help them attempt to finish the job. With just 250 feet left to drill, their drilling machine is blasted off the asteroid by a gas vent. When the crew radio to NASA that the mission has failed, worldwide panic ensues as humanity braces for the end of the world. A massive meteoroid then strike Parismarker, completely destroying the city.

The Freedom crew learns that the other team managed to survive the crash thanks to Lev Andropov and A.J. and have driven the second drilling machine to the site. Harry puts A.J. in charge of finishing the drilling and they successfully drill to the necessary depth. The team lowers the nuclear bomb into the hole, but are caught in a rockstorm. The storm damages the remote on the bomb, rendering remote detonation useless. With 18 minutes left, Truman tells the team that someone must stay behind to detonate the bomb. A.J. is picked to stay behind after drawing straws, but Harry disables A.J.'s air supply and takes his place. As the shuttle departs, Harry sends a message to his daughter, giving his full support for her to marry A.J.

Harry detonates the bomb seconds before the deadline, causing the asteroid to split in two and miss the Earth by 400 miles, at the cost of his own life. The remaining crews of Freedom and Independence return to Earth as heroes. A.J. reunites with Grace while the others are met by their loved ones. Grace and A.J. soon marry, while Harry and the other lost crew members are memorialized.

Cast

Freedom shuttle crew

  • William Fichtner as Colonel Willie Sharp: Pilot of shuttle Freedom
  • Jessica Steen as Jennifer Watts: Co-pilot of shuttle Freedom
  • Grayson McCouch as Gruber: Munitions specialist of shuttle Freedom
  • Bruce Willis as Harry Stamper: Protagonist and leader of shuttle Freedom drill team
  • Will Patton as Charles "Chick" Chapple: Harry's best friend and drill team member of shuttle Freedom
  • Ken Hudson Campbell as Max Lennert: Operator of the Armadillo
  • Steve Buscemi as Rockhound: Geologist of shuttle Freedom


Independence shuttle crew

  • Ben Affleck as A.J. Frost: Secondary protagonist; leader of shuttle Independence drill team and Grace's love interest.
  • Marshall R. Teague as Colonel Davis: Pilot of shuttle Independence
  • Anthony Guidera as Captain Tucker: Co-pilot of shuttle Independence
  • Greg Collins as Lt. Halsey: Munitions specialist of shuttle Independence
  • Clark Heathcliffe Brolly as Freddy Noonan: Member of the shuttle Independence drill team
  • Michael Clarke Duncan as Jayotis "Bear" Kurleenbear: Operator of the armadillo for shuttle Independence
  • Owen Wilson as Oscar Choice: Geologist of shuttle Independence
  • Peter Stormare as Lev Andropov: Russian Cosmonaut


NASA and others

  • Billy Bob Thornton as Dan Truman: Head of NASA, discovers the asteroid and organizes the plan to destroy it
  • Liv Tyler as Grace Stamper: Daughter of Harry Stamper and A.J.'s girlfriend
  • Keith David as General Kimsley: Member of US government, helps Truman organize the plan to stop the asteroid
  • Jason Issacs as Dr. Ronald Quincy Head scientist at NASA who proposes using nukes to blow up the asteroid.


Reception and criticism

The film was given mixed reviews and, although it was an international box office success, it received a large amount of criticism from film reviewers. On Rotten Tomatoes it scores 41%; on a similar website, Metacritic, it similarly scores 42%. The film is on the list of Roger Ebert's most hated films: in his original review, he stated "The movie is an assault on the eyes, the ears, the brain, common sense and the human desire to be entertained". In contrast, his long-time friend Gene Siskel from the show Siskel & Ebert gave it a "thumbs up." Roger Ebert considered it the worst film of 1998 as seen in Siskel and Ebert's annual "Worst of" shows.

The film received the Saturn Awards for Best Direction and Best Science Fiction Film (where it tied with Dark City). Only one Razzie was awarded: Bruce Willis received the Worst Actor award for Armageddon, in addition to his appearances in Mercury Rising and The Siege.

Despite the general critical disdain, a DVD edition of Armageddon was released by The Criterion Collection, a specialist film distributor of primarily arthouse films that markets what it considers to be "important classic and contemporary films" and "cinema at its finest". In an essay supporting the selection of Armageddon, film scholar Jeanine Basinger, who taught Michael Bay at Wesleyan Universitymarker, states that the film is "a work of art by a cutting-edge artist who is a master of movement, light, color, and shape—and also of chaos, razzle-dazzle, and explosion". She sees it as a celebration of working men: "This film makes these ordinary men noble, lifting their efforts up into an epic event." Further, she states that in the first few moments of the film all the main characters are well established, saying, "If that isn't screenwriting, I don't know what is".

The film was nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Sound, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Effects Editing, and Best Original Song.

Scientific inaccuracies

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Michael Bay said that the solution for the asteroid situation was great for the movie but not possible in real life, while adding that real-life "anti-gravity" systems for such a situation were being worked on by NASA. Bay also said that people who might think that it was possible to deal with an asteroid in the manner depicted in the movie would be mistaken.

NASA shows the film as part of its management training program. Prospective managers are asked to find as many inaccuracies in the movie as they can. At least 168 impossible things have been found during these screenings of the film. For example, shuttles could not land on an asteroid. Also, even if they could, they would not be able to leave. It also wouldn't be possible to build the shuttles fast enough, whether building from scratch or modifying existing shuttles. (Although an earlier scene alludes to the fact that the shuttles had already been built, and were being kept secret by the military, until such time as they were needed.) The movie also invokes standard Hollywood conventions when it comes to science, such as depicting there being noise in space. Explosions were also shown to be sustained in the vacuum of space, their was significant gravity on the asteroid and on the space shuttles, and one character is afflicted with "space dementia".

Space Shuttle Columbia disaster

Following the 2003 Columbia disaster, some screen captures from the opening scene where Atlantis is destroyed were passed off as satellite images of the disaster in a hoax. Also, in response to the disaster, FX pulled Armageddon from that night's schedule and replaced it with Aliens.

Box office

  • Budget - USD$140,000,000
  • Marketing cost - $60,000,000
  • Opening Weekend Gross (Domestic) - $36,089,972
  • Total Domestic Grosses - $201,578,182
  • Total Overseas Grosses - $352,131,606
  • Total Worldwide Grosses - $553,709,788


Soundtracks

Armageddon: The Album

The soundtrack features the song "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing", performed by Aerosmith. The soundtrack also features the song "Remember Me", as performed by Journey. This song was the first studio recording with new lead vocalist Steve Augeri, who was hired to replace long-time singer Steve Perry after his departure from the band.

Armageddon: The Album (Sony, June 23, 1998):
  1. "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" - Aerosmith
  2. "Remember Me" - Journey
  3. "What Kind of Love Are You On" - Aerosmith
  4. "La Grange" - ZZ Top
  5. "Roll Me Away" - Bob Seger
  6. "When the Rainbow Comes" - Shawn Colvin
  7. "Sweet Emotion" - Aerosmith
  8. "Mister Big Time" - Jon Bon Jovi
  9. "Come Together" - Aerosmith
  10. "Wish I Were You" - Patty Smyth
  11. "Starseed" - Our Lady Peace
  12. "Leaving on a Jet Plane" - Chantal Kreviazuk
  13. "Theme from Armageddon" - Trevor Rabin
  14. "Animal Crackers" - Dialogue by Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler; vocals and piano by Steven Tyler


Chart positions

Year Chart Position
1998 The Billboard 200 1


Armageddon: Original Motion Picture Score by Trevor Rabin

There was also an instrumental score titled Armageddon: Original Motion Picture Score by Trevor Rabin. Rabin was formerly a member of the progressive rock band Yes.

  1. "Armageddon Suite"
  2. "Harry & Grace Make Peace"
  3. "A.J.'s Return"
  4. "Oil Lube"
  5. "Leaving"
  6. "Evacuation"
  7. "Harry meets World"
  8. "Back In Business"
  9. "Launch"
  10. "5 Asteroids"
  11. "Underwater Love"
  12. "Doing Grace"
  13. "Armadillo"
  14. "Short Straw"
  15. "Ride It"
  16. "Death of Mir"
  17. "Armageddon Piano"
  18. "Long Distance Goodbye/Landing"


Novelization

A novelization was written by C. Bolin, based on the screenplay by Jonathan Hensleigh, J.J. Abrams, Tony Gilroy and Shane Salerno and the story by Jonathan Hensleigh and Robert Pool.

See also



References

  1. Armageddon - Movie Review - Rotten Tomatoes
  2. Roger Ebert - Armageddon
  3. YouTube The Worst of 1998 - Siskel & Ebert 1999
  4. The Criterion Collection - About Criterion
  5. The Criterion Collection: Armageddon by Michael Bay
  6. New Scientist (September 1, 2007), "Feedback" p 72: ISSN 0262-4079
  7. Photos of the Shuttle Columbia Disaster? - BreakTheChain.org
  8. TV Pulls Shuttle Sensitive Material, Hewlett-Packard Ad, Bruce Willis Movie Yanked From Air - CBS News


External links




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