Armageddon Review
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Director Michael Bay is one of the most widely-debated directors in Hollywood today—not because he’s particularly controversial but because he’s the kind of filmmaker you either love or hate. Some people think he’s a movie-making genius. Others think he’s an idiot with an unhealthy obsession with blowing stuff up. But whatever your own opinion of him, there’s just no denying that he’s pretty much mastered the brainless summer blockbuster formula. He may not make brilliant films—but he sure knows how to entertain the masses.

In Bay’s 1998 blockbuster, Armageddon, Bruce Willis stars as Harry Stamper, an offshore oil driller who’s brought to NASA on an important top-secret mission. While examining the cause of a massive shower of meteorites that devastated a number of cities around the planet, NASA scientists have discovered an asteroid the size of Texas that’s headed straight for Earth. The only way to prevent the end of the world as we know it is to land a crew on the asteroid, drill into the center, and use a nuclear warhead to blow it up from the inside. And that’s where Harry comes in.

With just days until the asteroid hits Earth, Harry calls in his crack team of drilling misfits to train for the mission. They’re all a little bit crazy, but they might be just what NASA needs to save the planet.

Meanwhile, a crack team of Hollywood biggies—from effects-addicted director Bay to producer Jerry Bruckheimer and writers Tony Gilroy and J. J. Abrams—worked together on Armageddon, carefully crafting it to be an explosive summer blockbuster. They gave it just the right mix of explosions and cheesy comedy for the guys and romance and drama for the girls. They threw in a likeably kooky cast (including Steve Buscemi, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Owen Wilson) playing characters that are brimming with personality. And they seasoned the whole thing with memorable scenes and even tear-jerking drama. The result may be manipulative and even a little bit schlocky, but it’s also effective and wildly entertaining. An Oscar-worthy film it’s not, but it sure is a whole lot of fun to watch.

Bay definitely knows how to blow stuff up—to destroy, demolish, and annihilate. And, as usual, his moments of massive destruction in Armageddon are absolutely mesmerizing. Today, though, it’s also horrifying to watch the scenes in New York City, with the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center smoldering in the background. Is it overdone? Maybe. But the quick cuts of non-stop disaster keep the rather bloated 150-minute movie from dragging. It’s action-packed and intense—and, when it’s all over, you’ll feel like you’ve traveled into space and back, too.

With its mind-blowing action and formulaic disaster-movie plot, Armageddon is pure Michael Bay. It’s big and explosive and completely over-the-top—but it still makes for one entertaining adventure.

Blu-ray Review:
You might think that an outspoken director like Michael Bay (who’s also well-known for padding his movies with filler) would be thrilled to create all kinds of features and commentaries and things for his big-budget releases. But the Blu-ray release of Armageddon is surprisingly light on extras. In fact, the special features menu includes just two items: the trailers (both the theatrical trailer and the teaser) and the Aerosmith video for “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” The HQ quality of the release is pretty impressive, but if you’re looking for extensive features, too, you’ll be disappointed.

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