August 25, 2009

(Cinematic) Armageddon

**Warning. This post may contain explosions. We suggest, for example, that you don't read it while driving a car full of fertilizer or while routinely soaking your last living possessions in gasoline on the grill that was your life. You have been warned.**

Armageddon means a lot of different things. For some people, it involves a rather stupid cult phenomenon about the year 2012. For others, it means the end-times in the bible and a series of even more inane books about those "left behind." But for the rest of us, it means Michael Bay is back in town.



For those of you who just watch movies and don't really know much about them, Michael Bay is the guy who makes shit blow up. He did Transformers, for example. He also did Pearl Harbor. He did Bad Boys II and even a few incomprehensible Meatloaf music videos.

But the movie that really sucked the worst, the one that jump-started his career in the multimillion dollar set, was the 1998 Bruce Willis / Ben Affleck star vehicle Armageddon, a movie so bad it would be flattered if it were only the worst of the two meteor-hits-earth movies that came out that year, and not the worst movie of 1998 or, perhaps, the worst movie not involving giant CGI robots.

Armageddon starts out with a long shot of earth exploding for no reason at all, except to set the mood. You can tell from the moment the credits come hurdling at you like the last of your possessions out of your girlfriend's window that this movie is not going to be a cinematic triumph by any stretch of the imagination. Admittedly, the CGI for this movie is much better than The Core, but Armageddon more than makes up for it by not having any plot whatsoever.

The lack-of-plot rotates around a group of American outlaw oil riggers who get sent to space in order to blow an asteroid to smithereens by burying nukes in it. The main rigger, Bruce Willis, has issues with his daughter dating Ben Affleck, who drills oil wells. This white-trash-romance subplot goes nowhere, and the daughter/girlfriend character is one of the biggest ingenues ever put to film. If a man with a handlebar mustache were to tie her to some train tracks at least she would have something to do except stand there and look like Arwyn while waiting for the men in her life to save her. Those of you with an angry inner feminist will be amused to note that she is the only female character, making this movie one of the biggest sausage fests until Master and Commander took the big bratwurst in '03. To make it worse, the romantic scenes between her and Ben Affleck might compete with the sex scene in Watchmen for the title of Most Awkward Thing Ever Put to Film. Umm. Yeah.

One character did throw me for a loop, however. Steve Buscemi actually plays a rigger with Westley Crusher Syndrome who can calculate distance along the surface of an asteroid in his head and identify the thickness of a vein of rock while in space. Steve Buscemi plays a character who doesn't look like he's three drinks away from the Mos Eisley Cantina? Preposterous!

Michael Bay's directing style is atrocious. There is no shot longer than 4 seconds, women are shot like sex dolls, and even Bruce Willis looks confused and angry. For a brief summery of his style, look at this actual trailer for Armageddon and then watch this video of Michael Bay eating a bowl of cereal. Notice any differences?



In fact, Michael Bay is so notorious for being a bad director that even a fake script for The Dark Knight went around with his name and tags on it. If the same script had Chris Nolan's name on it, nobody would have believed such an outrageous fake. But Mr. Bay? Yeah. He would make the movie this bad. The man made the world's only successful movie about toy robots, for fuck's sake.

But for all the horrible things about this movie, it is a great midnight show. Once you get used to Michael Bay's directing habits, you'll see them everywhere. Beer commercials. Lingerie ads. SyFy channel original movies. Once you know the enemy, you'll be able to avoid it. And do you know what the word for that is?

Awesome?

Bingo.

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