on July 01, 1998 by Christine James
Special effects may be more sophisticated than ever, but the filmmakers utilizing them are not. When audiences began to yawn at the once-spectacular sight of a car careening off a cliff and bursting into flame, or a building being blown up, engorged in fire and exploding glass, brick and steel, Hollywood scripters turned to thoughts of genocide. "Volcano," "Dante's Peak" and "Godzilla" decimated cities, while "Independence Day," "Mars Attacks!," "Deep Impact" and now "Armageddon" threatened the destruction of the entire planet. While none of these films managed to make the most of their premise, "Armageddon" suffers not only from a mediocre script but also from being the last epic disaster picture out of the gate. How many times now have we seen shots of people gaping helplessly skyward while standing in front of the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower or other world-renowned landmarks that are about to be destroyed? How often have we seen an Asian community wiped out as a means of showing the potential seriousness of the threat (i.e., if it happened in the U.S.!)?
When it comes to the end of the world, moviegoers feel like they've been there and done that. And "Armageddon," with its overly-comedic approach and annoyingly cartoonish protagonists, doesn't do much to engender feelings of significant concern for the fate of Earth. Basically, the story involves an oil drilling crew, comprised of the requisite Jerry Bruckheimer-brand rag-tag team of misfits, who must land a space shuttle on an asteroid and drill an 800-foot hole into which a nuclear device is to be dropped and detonated. But all does not go exactly according to plan! This is probably because the purported super skills of this supposedly expert crew are never effectively demonstrated. (Steve Buscemi being able to instantly ascertain exactly where they are on an uncharted asteroid and, when asked how he knows, declaring "Because I'm a genius!", does not count.) Still, as a summer popcorn flick, the film has its moments and is ultimately enjoyable, even though the fate of the planet seems to take a backseat plotwise to the fate of Liv Tyler and Ben Affleck's goo-goo-eye-making. Starring Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler. Directed by Michael Bay. Written by Jonathan Hensleigh and J.J. Abrams. Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, Gale Anne Hurd and Michael Bay. A Buena Vista release. Action/thriller. Rated PG-13 for sci-fi disaster action, sensuality and brief language. Running time: 148 min
Tags: Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, Michael Bay, Jonathan Hensleigh, J.J. Abrams, Jerry Bruckheimer, Gale Anne Hurd, Buena Vista, Action/thiller, meteor, energy, romance, doomsday

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