Armageddon: What a Hoot!

Thornton and Willis
Lately, I've been watching disaster movies. It interests me whether they are accurate or not; I also enjoy a good story (disaster movies have automatic classic plots: alarm, destruction, the end).

Lately, I watched Deep Impact and then, somewhat by mistake, Armageddon.

Deep Impact was better than I'd remembered and according to the on-line astrophysicists, fairly accurate (to a point; it is also glaringly inaccurate in other ways). I still think the ending is rather daffy--when the reporter goes home to stand with her father under a crashing tsunami. So maybe, she couldn't get away from the evil tidal wave in time, but I'm a big advocate of trying. (If one of these ever aims for Maine, I'm heading for the top of the highest mountain and taking my cats with me; yes, okay, Maine doesn't really have mountains, just enormous hills, but still . . . )

All the on-line astrophysicists agree that Armageddon is just dreadful (and I'm not a huge fan of Ben Affleck although I adore Will Patton), so I decided to give it a miss. However, I forgot that it was still in my inter-library loan request queue.

When it came in, I decided, "Eh, why not?"

First of all, this is not a movie that is taking the science of asteroids even a little seriously. And it knows it. (Deep Impact takes itself very seriously.) And it really doesn't care. The asteroid is an excuse to take a bunch of "roughnecks" (redneck oil rig drillers) and put them somewhere in space. End of reasoning. Dead stop.

Jason Isaacs without long, blond hair.
Second, it's hilarious. Honestly funny. I was sort of worried that it would be a lot of so-called funny humor that is really just an excuse for people to make dirty jokes or talk about farts. But Bruce Willis--who is a gifted straight man--and Will Patton--also a gifted straight man--are backed up by a fairly gifted assortment of actors with strong comedic timing. I thought Billy Bob Thornton was splendid as the no-nonsense but willing to take a chance NASA director. I always get a kick out of William Fichtner (who was born into the world as guy-who-would-have-played-Nazis-if-he'd-been-alive-and-working-in-1940s-Hollywood). And Lucius Malfoy's Dad shows up! (Although I didn't know that until I went through the credits; I honestly don't recognize Jason Isaacs without long, blond hair.)

The action is way, way, way over-the-top. I reached a point, where I just had to wait for an action sequence to end to figure out what it was all about. And there are TONS of them; the movie starts BANG with scenes that usually end a movie.

The consequence of all these action scenes is a somewhat slow middle where they just pile on each other with no real purpose. Still, the movie is completely and totally and utterly what you expect it to be: girlfriend left to cry (Liv Tyler does this with such grace, you don't feel that she is pathetic); boyfriend left to try to make the final sacrifice; father left to save the world (and really, you should have seen that coming). It's a hoot because the movie knows exactly what it is doing and doesn't care that people might say, "Oh, I saw that coming!" "Oh, that's such a cliche!"

So [shrug] it's a cliche: so what? Who doesn't want to see a bunch of good guys show up at the last minute to help another bunch of good guys? And who doesn't want to see Bruce Willis convince someone to do something for the world (i.e. America) at the last minute? And why not watch the world get saved again?

In any case, this movie falls less into disaster territory and more into sci-fi/Die Hard territory.

It's just fun.

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