365 High-Def Days of Oscar: Day 163

Release Year: 1998

Oscar Nominations:

Best Original Song

Best Visual Effects

Best Sound

Best Sound Editing


Due to a shuttle’s unfortunate demise in outer space, NASA becomes aware of a doomsday asteroid that is on a collision course with Earth. It seems that the only way to knock it off course is to drill into its surface and detonate a nuclear weapon. But as NASA’s under-funded yet resourceful team train the world’s best drillers for the job, the social order of the world begins to break down as the information reaches the public and hysteria results. As high-ranking officials play politics with the effort, the drilling team all faces deep personal issues which may jeopardize humanity’s last chance…


“Armageddon” is one of the worst movie ever made. Some movies became bad by accident, while others because they are supposed to be campy. But in the case of Armageddon, this movie is bad because it’s extremely dumb and stupid and presumes so are the audiences. In filmmaking terms, this movie is a great success, as in, what you see onscreen is about 90 to 95% of what the filmmakers intended. It’s almost Kubrickian in its achievements… if Kubrick were brain-dead!

The premise is simplicity crossing into utter dumbness: oil drillers save mankind from extermination by stopping an asteroid colliding to Earth by blowing it up. Take away “oil drillers” and “blowing it up” from the premise and you could have the basis for a truly good SF story. But alas, nobody that made this movie seem to be aware of what made a good story… or simply didn’t care, logic and plausibility all nonsense to them!

How dumb is this movie? It has such basic scientific inaccuracies that a 6th grade child would find unacceptable. It’s a movie that has fire burning and wind blowing in the vacuum of space. You can blow in half a rocky solid asteroid the size of Texas (slightly less then half the Moon’s diameter) by just using one nuclear bomb. Gravity comes and goes depending on plot. Speaking of the asteroid, at that size, it would be the most visible object in the sky after the Sun, Moon, Venus and Mars. Dottie, the asteroid of “Armageddon,” would had been visible to the naked eye and known to mankind since the dawn of man, even in it’s Asteroid Belt original orbit. The fact that it’s only noticed 13 days before impact is just plain ludicrous. But the most amusing thing in this movie concerning scientific blunders is right at the beginning, when the narrator (Charlton Heston) informs us that the impact rock that killed the dinosaurs released energy of 10,000 nuclear weapons, a vague announcement that probably meant to say 80,000 megatons in explosive power. When in fact it’s calculated that impact released energy equivalent of 800,000 megatons! For such a bombastic and excessive movie, their funniest blunder is by UNDERSTIMATION! The irony is too precious for words! But there is some accuracy to Armageddon’s science: asteroids do exist. And that’s it.

Yet, the funniest blunder is not a scientific but a biblical one: The President calls Armageddon the name of the day of the end of the world, when in fact the Bible mentions it as being the place of the final battle between good and evil. Armageddon is an actual place, near the Israeli city of Megiddo, not a religious holyday! Few are the movies that dumb down both the science and the Bible book, but this one does with aplomb. Truly impressive!

But even for all those to whom scientific accuracy gets in the way of their fun, this movie still has plenty to annoy and insult. Characters are below caricatures. All of the “heroes” are selfish idiots who never rise beyond the level of petulant brat children. Most serve no useful purpose to the story other then look good to the camera. Everybody is shot in extreme close up even if they are not doing anything, killing any pathos an important emotional scene might had. All scenes are edited like action scenes, even if it’s just characters professing mutual love. The longest cut last 5 seconds, everything else cut to the average length of 3 seconds for no other better reason that the AVID allows. The entire movie is made of climaxes of other, better movies. It’s obvious this movie was made by people that can’t care about the world other then the part belonging to USA, and made for audiences that think accordingly. All scenes showing foreign lands are post-production afterthoughts. In this movie, saving the world is an American patriotic endeavor first and last, humanity and Earth be damned! Oh yeah, and don’t forget that rural USA is locked in a 1947 time warp, where not even TV has yet reached!

This super-patriotic aspect of the movie is truly irritating, in that it’s all surface gloss, merely candy for an audience trap. Nothing is presented with any more depth them an air travel commercial. The movie is made of presentation and nothing else. Some movies are super-visual because the visuals are part of the statement, but not this movie. This movie states nothing else other then the filmmaker’s greed over audience’s purses. Everything is hard sale.

And yet, this movie is beloved by many. How can this be, when such a bad movie is so obviously stupid gets to be so strongly accepted and defended? The common answer is, “because it’s entertaining”. But I have to ask, since when entertainment is an excuse for stupidity? I don’t know about you, but if filmmakers make a movie presuming that I’m an imbecile and a dumb moron, sell it to me and want my money for it, I can’t help feeling very insulted. If you are sold a rotten fruit or a broken radio, will you not complain and call those for what they are? Why should movies be any different?



The Blu-Ray comes with the “I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing” music video from Aerosmith. Plus, you get both trailers. What happened to the commentaries and other special features that were featured on the Criterion DVD? Disney got the rights to the Criterion supplementals for “The Rock”, why not this movie? The A/V Quality makes up for it, as this marks the first time that an anamorphic transfer for this film has been available in Region 1. Throw on pristine DTS 5.1 HD audio for a window-shattering audio experience. This is a recommended purchase.

RELEASE DATE: 04/27/2010

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