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ARMAGEDDON

SYNOPSIS:
An asteroid the size of Texas is hurtling towards Earth at 22,000 mph; NASA's executive director, Dan Truman (Billy Bob Thornton) explores every possible option but ends up with only one crazy scenario: get a drilling team onto the asteroid, drill a deep hole and sink a nuclear warhead down the shaft, to blow the meteor apart and send its two halves on trajectories that by-pass Earth. He has some opposition to overcome, including a nervous US President (Stanley Anderson), but he stays his course. The world's best drillers are Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis) and his ragged, ruffian team of oil drillers, including A.J. Frost (Ben Affleck), the young man who has fallen in love with Stamper's beautiful daughter, Grace (Liv Tyler). A.J and Harry don't always see eye to eye, and this tension runs through the mission - as does Grace's love for both her father and her lover. A mission as complex as this one, and on such tight schedule, is certain to be complicated, risky and nerve wracking - and it is. And when the odds seem stacked against the rescue mission, it requires a singular sacrifice to help save mankind.

"A spectacular range of images is presented in Armageddon, a pyrotechnical whizz bang of a movie that tries its damnedest to pull at our heartstrings as well as tighten our knuckles. To its credit, the film does get some of the intended emotional weight in the final third, but unfortunately by then it's a little late. There is far too much energy wasted (theirs as well as ours) in the first half of the film on the preparation for the mission. It could lose 40 minutes. After the initial set up of the story, we are dragged through the predictable sequences of the roughhouse group of drillers being gathered together from their respective and varied locations, in what is supposed to be an amusing and unique set of their personal peccadilloes. It doesn't really work, because, like much else in the film, it's just going through the paces. This comes through several times, as when on their pre-launch night the boys hit the town. There are set pieces about saving the world, corny shots of nice groups of people around the world, all in synch with each other, and a seriously misjudged comedic element in the training process, which softens the film's action trajectory. Some of the mayhem prior to the finale seems contrived and meaningless playing with stunts and SFX - what is it? We don't know. But all the performances are tops, of course, and the technical achievements are spectacular, imaginative and truly awesome. The film's flaws will shoot right past much of its target audience, which is there to take a thrill ride into a fearsome fantasy."
Andrew L. Urban

"Big, bold and explosive, the biggest armchair space adventure is here! Armageddon defies the sceptics and delivers a larger than life, thrilling movie experience, with phenomenal effects, big stars and a story with human elements. The scale is massive - from the stature of the stars, the mind-blowing effects, the enormity of the theme - on the huge screen, with booming digital sound and a thrilling soundtrack. So if it's big-time Hollywood escapism you want, it don't get much bigger than this! While comparisons will no doubt be made with Deep Impact, whose theme also explores the end-of-the-world, the structures and approaches are quite different, making room for the two blockbusters to boom at the box office. At the heart of Armageddon is the appeal of the characters - Bruce Willis has patented the reluctant hero; Billy Bob Thornton is fabulous as the NASA chief, Liv Tyler delightful, Ben Affleck solid, Peter Stormare and Steve Buscemi hard to ignore as the Russian astronaut and clown genius with space dementia respectively. They're not heroes made of the Right Stuff; we're talking about cowboys made of the Wrong Stuff, but who have the guts and determination to finish the job, despite their doubts and flaws. The script uses this to great advantage, bringing doses of unexpected humour at the most unlikely times. Protocol and humour make strange bedfellows, and the conflict of styles and ways to complete the job are used to great advantage. Yes, it's a tad too long, and at times the effects get in the way of actually knowing exactly what's going on. But the visuals are quite fantastic, coupled with an enthralling music score, which adds to the film enormously. Watch out for the destruction of Paris, wonderfully executed. The sentiment is milked a little, but I laughed and I cried and for the most part went along for the thrill ride on the Hollywood rollercoaster of big time space adventure."
Louise Keller

"It's long, it's loud, it's ludicrous, it's ------ well, er, Hollywood. Welcome to the cinematic land of unoriginality, a world where movies are not made by visionaries, but by studio-based accountants. Armageddon is not by any means the worst Hollywood has to offer, but it's not the best either. The film is certainly a technical marvel, and that is its biggest strength, a visually stunning kaleidoscope of images amidst the less interesting moments. But then director Michael Bay, who helmed the even louder The Rock, is an expert in this type of cinema, attempting to make a film with characters who end up hiding amidst the effects and imaginative pyrotechnics. Here is a script with so many characters that it's silly to think that they can be really fleshed out, and that's the problem. It's a larger-than-life film with characters whom you never get to know, despite the movie's 150 minute running time. Of course, that doesn't stop some of the cast from not taking the material too seriously, especially interminable scene-stealer Steve Buscemi who is a blast as geologist Rockhount. Willis is typically stoic and one dimensional, while pretty Liv Tyler does little but pout, smile or cry - albeit effectively. Ben Affleck is far better as A.J, and Billy Bob Thornton does some fine work as the NASA chief. The production is stylishly designed, and the visual effects are dazzlingly effective; it's bland, rather than grand, escapism. Somewhere out there is a great movie about the possible annihilation of our planet still waiting to be told."
Paul Fischer

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 2
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ARMAGEDDON (M) 15+
(US)

CAST: Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, Keith David, Chris Ellis, Jason Isaacs, Will Patton, Steve Buscemi, Peter, Stormare, Ken Campbell, William Fichtner, Jessica Steen, Stanley Anderson

DIRECTOR: Michael Bay

PRODUCER: Jerry Bruckheimer, Gale Anne Hurd, Michael Bay

SCRIPT: Jonathan Hensleigh (story:Hensleigh & Robert Roy Pool)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Schwartzman

EDITOR: Mark Goldblatt, Chris Lebenzon, Glen Scantlebury

MUSIC: Trevor Rabin

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Michael White

RUNNING TIME: 144 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow (BVI)

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 20, 1998

VIDEO RELEASE: Mar 31, 1999
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista







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