Starring: Bruce Willis, Steve Buscemi, Billy Bob Thorton, Liv Tyler, Michael Clark Duncan, Owen Wilson, Will Patton, Ben Affleck
Directed by: Michael Bay
Written by: J.J. Abrams, Jonathan Hensleigh
Studio: Disney/Buena Vista
Runtime: 151 Minutes
Release Date: 4/27/2010
When CGI started to find its stride in the mid-to-late 90’s, a lot filmmakers used it as a tool to show what the destruction of our planet would look like. From ‘Dante’s Peak’ to ‘Independence Day’, someone always had a beef with our mother earth and they were not shy about showing her destruction on the big screen. 1998’s ‘Armageddon’ was, at the time, the loudest, most over the top and successful movie to combine the destruction of our planet with all of the action one would expect from a Michael Bay film that starred one of the world’s biggest action heroes, Bruce Willis.
When a star gazer inadvertently discovers a giant meteor “the size of Texas” speeding towards earth, NASA must come up with a plan to divert it before it impacts earth and destroys every living species on the planet. Dan Truman (Thorton) is head of the team at NASA that is tasked with the impossible mission of coming up with a plan to save the planet. The plan is simple, send a group of misfits led by Harry Stamper (Willis) of Stamper Oil to land on the asteroid, drill to a depth of 800 feet, insert a nuclear warhead, take off and detonate before it crosses the zero barrier. What could possibly be so hard about that?
There are several reasons that people like Armageddon. First, Harry Stamper is a hero, not an anti-hero but a real hero that "doesn’t know how to fail”. Second, there’s no social commentary to take away from the movie itself and preach to us about the evils of man. Third, it’s nice to think that if something this catastophic were to ever really happen; mankind would actually come together and work towards a common goal rather than trying to destroy one another in the process.
The characters in ‘Armageddon’ are just as colorful as the destruction of our planet. Grace (Tyler) is Harry’s daughter and employee that had to grow up traveling the world following Harry from one job to the next. A.J. (Affleck) is Harry’s approval seeking employee and suitor for Grace. Rockhound (Buscemi) is the womanizing resident genius at Stamper Oil and Oscar (Wilson) is the company’s quirky geologist. Bear (Duncan) is Stamper’s muscle and Chick (Patton) is Harry’s right hand man. Each of these characters bring a unique personality to the movie and each one is memorable for it.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=3937&w=o[/img]I am a fan of Michael Bay films. They are loud, entertaining, visually intriguing and usually have a fun and interesting cast characters. ‘Armageddon’ is arguably one of Michael Bay’s best spectacles. It has intense action, great drama, an interesting cast of characters and some very funny scenes with several memorable one-liners and the scene in the final act between Harry and Grace still gets me all "verklempt". Indeed, ‘Armageddon’ is a no holds barred, over the top and unapologetic symphony of destruction and I personally love it for what it is.
The Bluray only adds to the experience that is ‘Armageddon’ and Disney has once again provided an excellent audio and video transfer for this catalogue title. Disney should be commended on their commitment to Bluray and for giving these older catalogue titles such outstanding treatment.
‘Armageddon’ is appropriately rated PG-13 for intense action, scenes of destruction and some bad language.
While not a perfect transfer, ‘Armageddon’ does have several Reference quality scenes thanks to an outstanding AVC 1080P transfer with its original 2:39.1 aspect ratio. I’ve never realized how colorful of a pallet was used in creating this movie until now. The orange jumpsuits pop off the screen and the exhaust of the shuttle launches engulf the screen with a brilliant and vivid array of colors. Meteorites crash into the cities and explode with brilliant fire balls and detailed destruction. The black levels are deep but appear a bit limited at times however; this doesn't appear to be a defficiency in the transfer. The shadows and textures on the asteroid have a lot of depth and detail that really gives it a very lifeless and menacing feel. There is also some minor grain in a couple of scenes but it is not predominate by any means.
The destruction that descends upon Paris, Shang-hi and New York is alive in great detail and I couldn’t help but reflect back and compare ‘Armageddon’ to my recent review of ‘2012’. I would definitely say that ‘Armageddon’ has a superior presentation and much better CGI as there weren't any lines of delineation that stood out in 'Armageddon' and considering it is more than 10 years older than ‘2012’, well that's just sad.
‘Armageddon’ is presented in 5.1 DTS-HD-Master Audio and once again Disney has done an outstanding job of delivering the goods. From the pounding destruction caused by falling meteors to the deep roaring takeoff of the twin shuttles there is plenty going on to keep you listening. The surrounds are given plenty of attention and I was particularly impressed with the subtle creeks and groans of the hull of the shuttles as they slingshot around the moon to reach the 22,500 mph speed necessary to catch the asteroid, you could almost feel the shuttles about to break apart.
Dialogue is crisp and clear and the voice textures are very well balanced. The low end really delivers but is not so heavy and over powering that it takes away from the overall sound design. Plenty attention was given to bringing out even the smallest details across this very wide landscape. Trevor Rabin's score really comes alive on this presentation and adds so much to the atmosphere of each scene that it really needs to be heard to be appreciated. I haven't been this impressed with an overall audio presentation in quite a while and I am very relieved that Disney did this one right.
The extras were very light including a single music video and a couple of trailers.
Unlike some other studios, Disney/Buena Vista has been very consistent in their Bluray catalogue releases and has gone above and beyond in giving clean video transfers and deafening audio presentations. ‘Armageddon’ is no exception as it fills the screen with color, clarity and detail and it fills the room with roaring audio that will have you feeling like it is the first time you’ve seen this movie. Disney should serve as an example to other studios as to what can be achieved if you take the time to do something right and have a top notch quality control group to oversee the final product. If you like ‘Armageddon’, you owe it to yourself to pick this one up.