OK, off to a good start. Lots of material for future discussions. I’m going to start with “worst movie ever” because I notice we both chose movies that a lot of people really love – the number one grossing movies in their respective years, in fact. Perhaps in some future post you can give your rationale for Top Gun. In the meantime, here’s my rationale for Armageddon:
I could talk about the crappy acting, flat characters, cringe-inducing dialogue, or the over-the-top “action” scenes. But I won’t. Instead I’ll focus on the two things that take it from merely bad to unforgiveable:
- It takes a great premise and ruins it. A potentially catastrophic collision with a meteor is an extraordinarily unlikely event, but it could happen. And it is a very interesting question to ask how humankind would respond. Never mind the plan to blow the thing up. What about the plan to sustain life after it strikes? And how would the impending catastrophe affect families, relationships, the economy, international relations? Tons of fodder for a real film. But Armageddon director Michael Bay (worst director ever) dumbs it all down to the lowest possible level – a moronic, jingoistic action flick that ends with scenes of children around the world running through their poor, dirty streets waving American flags. Ugh. The same year, Deep Impact came out, a movie about the same problem. No one ever accused Deep Impact of being a masterpiece, but at least it attempted to answer some real questions.
- It is an affront to science and common sense. I don’t need a movie to be scientifically plausible, unless it happens to be a science fiction movie featuring NASA solving a genuine problem. Then you bloody well ought to try. Bay didn’t. Just to prove how scientifically ridiculous it is, according to Wikipedia, NASA uses Armageddon in its training, asking potential supervisors to find as many errors as they can (168, apparently). One of my favourites is when they are dropping pipes on the meteor and they plummet like it’s Earth’s gravity, and make a clanging sound on impact. Wouldn’t they be silent in the vacuum of space?
But I think NASA should be most pissed at how the movie depicts its own decision making. I won’t get into the plan in the movie for blowing up the meteor, nor its implausibility. Suffice to say, the job needs people who possess both astronaut skills, and drilling skills. So what does NASA do in Michael Bay’s world? Do they teach highly skilled astronauts the comparatively simple skill of drilling? No! They go the other way, recruiting oil rig man Bruce Willis and his merry band of pranksters to become astronauts overnight. And they pretty much have to beg him to do it because, yeah, the oil rig guy holds all the cards in a negotiation with freakin’ NASA. What follows is an excruciating 45-minute montage of these yahoos at astronaut school. It’s supposed to be fun and funny and exciting. It isn’t. It’s boring and tedious, and stupid, stupid, stupid.
So that’s my Armageddon rant. Feels good – I’ve been holding that in since 1998!