Armageddon at 20 Years


While Armageddon runs a bloated 150 minutes, the large majority of the film could really be defined as a comedy.

This film no doubt offered a glimpse into the future of what a Michael Bay movie would be–full of disaster with a side of visual effects.  Nobody asked for either but okay.  There’s nothing else that you really need to say.

When an asteroid “the size of Texas” is discovered to be heading towards an collision course with Earth in 18 days, NASA sends deep-core oil drillers to save the day, most notably Harry S. Stamper (Bruce Willis) and A.J. Frost (Ben Affleck).  Apparently, you can teach drillers to be astronauts but not the other way around.  When it comes to discussing the film’s synopsis, this is all you need to know.  The screenwriters don’t appear to look up whether or not blowing up an asteroid is scientifically possible.  Narrator: It’s probably not.

You can’t help but feel for Billy Bob Thornton.  The actor, who stars as Dan Truman, stands out from the rest of the cast.  Thornton plays it straight while humanity depends on these knuckleheads to save the day.  He really deserves better–at least he got justice with an Oscar nomination for his role in A Simple Plan later that year.  But hey, at least he gets to recite lines like “Well, our object collision budget’s a million dollars, that allows us to track about 3% of the sky, and beg’n your pardon sir, but it’s a big-ass sky.”

Who even remembers Owen Wilson being in the film?  I certainly didn’t until seeing his name in the credits.  Was his performance truly so forgettable?  Michael Clarke Duncan’s performance does remind us how much his talent is missed.

While many people will look back fondly on 2017 as the year John Denver songs were sung on film, Armageddon kicked off the trend almost two decades earlier.  In a moment that’s as emotional as this film will let it be, A.J. starts singing “Leaving on a Jet Plane” to his fiance, Grace, before other crew members join in.

This brings us to the tone of the film.  Make no mistake that Armageddon is a disaster film but so much of the dialogue and action plays better as a comedy.  Look no further than one scene involving A.J. Frost and Grace Stamper.  The very scene should be considered a crime against cinema in its own right.  The importance of humanity rests on these oil drillers yet A.J. is more worried about whether or not Animal Crackers are a cracker or cookie. Oh, please!  There are more important things to worry about like, I don’t know, saving the world!

There are great disasters flicks but Armageddon is not one of them.

DIRECTOR:  Michael Bay
SCREENWRITERS:  Jonathan Hensleigh and J.J. Abrams
CAST: Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Liv Tyler, Ben Affleck,  Will Patton, Peter Stormare, Keith David, William Fichtner, Michael Clarke Duncan, Owen Wilson, and Steve Buscemi

Touchstone Pictures released Armageddon on July 1, 1998.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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