A friend of mine watched part of this week’s nominee with me, Armageddon, and almost immediately burst into tears. And it was not the dramatic final scene in which Bruce Willis tells Liv Tyler that he loves her and that she should take care of Ben Affleck, which is stupid and hilarious but also emotionally manipulative and a reasonable thing to make someone cry if they are open to the possibility. It was the scene in which Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck and the dude from The Green Mile are first going into space. And then this friend told me a story about how they were on the elliptical trainer at the gym one day and they happened upon Armageddon on the gym TV and they began crying at the gym, on the elliptical trainer! What?! What I’m saying is that I have first hand experience with the ways that movies can have very different effects on people. And while I do not share any of my friend’s borderline-comical emotional reactions to what is ultimately an entirely cliched and ridiculous action movie, it is true that Armageddon is just that: an entirely cliched and ridiculous action movie. Far from the Worst Movie of All Time.
But still very silly (and VERY long). Shall we just talk about that?
So, Armageddon is about how an asteroid the size of Texas is going to hit the Earth, because before 9/11 that is the kind of thing that made us scared. Now, of course, it is much more likely that the Earth will end long before the almost statistically impossible chance of a massive asteroid colliding with the ocean when someone detonates a 12 Monkeys Dirty Bomb full of Joker-gas in Manhattan or whatever. But back then it was like: the only thing that could ruin us now is space. So some meteors start falling and it is total Space-11! YIKES:
So, Billy Bob Thornton is, like, the Boss of NASA or whatever (LOL), and he is like “we have got to fuck up this asteroid,” and some guy is like “we’ll just nuke it,” and Billy Bob Thornton is like “we can’t nuke it because of some made up reason,” and so they decide that the only way to destroy the asteroid and save the Earth is to talk to Bruce Willis, the Best Oil Driller in the World. Oh boy, here we go. Meanwhile, out on the oil rig, Bruce Willis is hitting golf balls at a Greenpeace boat because he is a MAN. Fuck you, Greenpeace! It’s hilarious and stupid how you work to make the world a better place based on deeply held personal beliefs when you should be shooting at Ben Affleck with a shotgun because he is fucking your daughter, Liv Tyler. The army is like “Mr. Bruce Willis, please come with us, asteroid time,” and Bruce Willis is like, “Ben Affleck is fired.” And I don’t even know what the big deal is anyway, because if we learned anything from Deep Impact (we didn’t learn anything from Deep Impact) it’s that when the asteroid hits Earth you just need to run up a tall hill.
So, NASA is going to send a team of astronauts into space to land on the asteroid (sure) and drill a hole in it (yes) and fill the hole with a nuclear device (absolutely). But Bruce Willis is like “you guys are so stupid, the only way to do this is to send me into space.” OH, HOLD ON, WHAT? Nevermind, because it gets so much better a few seconds later when Bruce Willis is like “and I want to take my own team with me.” Take your own team with you? Into space? To land on an asteroid? And drill a hole in the asteroid and put a nuclear bomb in that hole? Better bring Daniel Farraday with you. You don’t want things to get ridiculous.
So, Bruce Willis hires all his pals, and surprise: they are so wacky and out of control! Oh, and he hires Ben Affleck, even though he just fired Ben Affleck? Also, Ben Affleck already has his own oil company but it has been literally 24 hours since he was working for Bruce Willis? How did he get an oil company so fast? These are the types of questions we might have time to wonder if that asteroid wasn’t coming straight for us! Of course, it’s hard to imagine a group this ragtag going into space, but they are the only chance we have. Most astronauts train for years to go into space, but these oilmen will only have 12 days. Insert 45 minute training sequence. Now they are ready to go into space! First stop is the international space station where there is a kooky Russian cosmonaut who has space cabin fever and then there is another 45 minute sequence involving fuel lines and space fires and oh no Ben Affleck almost dies but then he doesn’t die at all phew but then a few minutes later he almost dies again but he still doesn’t die. But some people die. Because his ship (one of two!) gets hit by a meteor and crashes on the asteroid. (You know how things in space are always crashing.)
So, blah blah blah this movie is interminable, but so it is hard to drill an asteroid it turns out, and NASA is about to detonate the bomb themselves, but then Bruce Willis gives one of the most powerful speeches of all time:
Acting! I love how this movie pretends like we all have so much respect for oil drilling and have always been in awe of the whole process. “I would never have thought that an oil driller could drill an 800 foot hole in an asteroid, but I would like to believe that that is possible, and Bruce Willis’s idealized oil man character allows me that dream.” Anyway, some more people die, and then Ben Affleck shows up and there is some cheering, and they keep drilling but then there is a space storm (technical term) and the nuclear bomb is damaged and can only be detonated by hand, so they send Juliet into the hole, and fade to white. Just kidding. But so, they draw lots and Ben Affleck draws the short lot, and he is like, well. But then Bruce Willis pulls his oxygen tube while they are out in space? Careful Bruce Willis! I don’t trust that you understand how space suits work well enough to pull a stunt like that! But so now Bruce Willis is going to detonate the bomb. He tells Ben Affleck that he always thought of him as a son, which is weird, because he has been an absolute total asshole to Ben Affleck the whole time. “I hate you, son.” And everyone takes off in their spaceship (although not before another five minutes where maybe the spaceship doesn’t work? One more nail-biter-but-not-really for the road!) They get home and everyone says that Bruce Willis is the bravest man they have ever known and they don’t say a single word about the other dozen of people who died on the mission because they were not brave enough. Then Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler get married. Congrats, you two! You are going to love Jerry Seinfeld’s new show, The Marriage Ref!
And the coolest part is that it all happens in real time!
Look, whatever. Armageddon is a Michael Bay movie. Would you tell the sun to stop making terrible movies? Would you ask the rain not to be so so bad at making movies? He’s just very bad at his job, and until Hollywood realizes that it has the right and the duty to fire him, there’s no use in complaining about it. But there are some things that are worth pointing out. For one thing, is this a movie or a Coke commercial? (“Is there even a difference these days?” — AdBusters’ tombstone.) He kept cutting to these sweeping montages of “America” and the rest of the world, hearing the news and the whole thing was like one giant barf fest of boring stock footage:
This guy loved it:
Whatever, it’s just boring is all. And patently stupid. Much like Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler’s relationship. Speaking of which, I get how Bruce Willis was so upset about them dating because he didn’t want his daughter marrying a roughneck because she was better than that. But then what is up with them having a BMW?
Very roughneck! Very America!
The best part of the movie was Owen Wilson’s small role, which I had completely forgotten about! Pre-suicide-attempt Owen Wilson was the best! Always so funny and such a delight no matter how deep the garbage hole he found himself in. Now he’s just a weird husk of his former self, broken and scared like the rest of us. Oh well.
If anything, I wish we could go back to that blessed time when the things that scared us were asteroids and volcano eruptions. Now it’s all Total Apocalypse and Zombie Bioterrorism and even though those movies are just as cliche-filled and computer-generated, I find them legitimately terrifying and believable. We live in a world of chaos and potential annihilation. And if it does happen, it will be even worse than a thousand Michael Bay movies. But it will probably be much quicker.