Dumb Disaster Flick

Main Cast: Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, Billy Bob Thornton
Director: Michael Bay

Plot Summary: A giant meteor menaces Earth, but a ragtag group of drillers is sent into space to plant a bomb and save humanity. Unfortunately, they planted a bomb.

When did “Doomsday Asteroid Disaster” become a movie genre? Global warming, horrific weather and violence weren’t enough to keep everyone’s interest? This formulaic plot has its third entry in Armageddon, which is a great number for a brainless movie. Meteor and Deep Impact outclass Armageddon, which has to say something about studios, Michael Bay and the American public.

The film manages to do one thing consistently well as it is one of the loudest movies I have seen recently. The cast continuously shouts at the sky, machinery, and each other. Bay, the production team and screenwriters apparently believe the wall of sound will fill the gaping plot holes, but they only diminish the viewing experience more.

Armageddon’s plot is familiar to any space opera or action buff. A space shuttle is destroyed way up in orbit, signaling that something bad this way comes. That something is an asteroid which is going to make a hell of a bigger mess than your average space debris harmlessly splashing into the Indian Ocean. With every astronomer on Earth, even the ones who got a nifty telescope for their birthday, apparently napping, NASA has to scramble for an answer to save humanity. A decision is finally reached to nuke the asteroid, but for unfathomable reasons, the weapon can’t be fired at the big rock. Instead, this movie’s thin plot device requires that the bomb is placed within a hole inside the asteroid.

With the NASA rock-drilling organization never formed, the agency finds Harry Stamper, a deep-ocean driller played gruffly by Bruce Willis. Harry takes the job with the condition that his motley crew joins the space jaunt to do properly do the job, since saving humanity isn’t enough of an incentive, and it’s better to train five non astronauts for space flight rather than one. Silly plot device number two surfaces when NASA agrees to let AJ (Ben Affleck) and Harry’s daughter, Grace (Liv Tyler) to join the mission. While stating the obvious to anyone who has watched a Bay bad film, the two are lovers, but bring beefcake and cheesecake to the mission that needs a plot and character development.

Scenery chewer Billy Bob Thornton runs the operation from Earth, but even his performance can’t save this abysmal movie with its trite plot elements and faux conflict.

Cardboard characters, worn cliches and a tired plot rob Armageddon of everything but some pretty colors and loud music to go along with the shouted dialogue. If the new “Asteroid Killing Earth” genre is in your future viewing plans, hold your nose and check out Deep Impact instead. Neither is especially good, but you get Robert Duvall and Morgan Freeman saving the Earth instead of Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton. That is a trade I’m willing to take if someone makes me watch one of the two.

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