Armageddon (1998) (part 11 of 13)
Jessica’s right about Bruce. The next line out of his mouth is, “Sharp! Get back in here now!” yelled really hard. All in all, it’s a very nuanced performance.
Harry asks/yells to know what’s going on, and Sharp says it’s Secondary Protocol. Harry will lose two guys, Sharp will lose a guy, but hey, orders is orders. Chick says, “This is turning into a serialistic nightmare!” Uh, no. Those old Commander Cody-type serials were much better written and acted than this, to say nothing of the fabulous costumes. And even though this movie is a nightmare, it isn’t a serial. But it’s long enough to be one. [Editor’s Note: Actually, he says it’s a surrealistic nightmare, which is just as dumb, but I think Amanda’s interpretation is funnier. —Albert]
Back at CSI, I mean, NASA, Truman is whispering into his Madonna-earpiece-mic, telling one of the other NASA geeks at the “CAPCOM” station to kill the uplink to the nuke. This apparently will buy some time until they can regain communications with the crew.
Back in space, Harry and Sharp have another pointless, “Turn it off!” “No!” fight. It ends with Harry hefting a massive pair of tongs, followed by Sharp pointing the gun at him. Chick, referee and commentator, asks, “What are you doing with a gun in space?” Uh, didn’t we just see a machine gun on the Armadillo? What’s he so shocked about?
Regardless, this stops Harry from smashing the nuke, which probably would have detonated it anyway. I hate to ramble, but this leads me to another question. Whatever happened to the nuke on the other shuttle? Shouldn’t that have exploded or something when the ship crashed? Even if it wasn’t armed, aren’t those warheads sorta… volatile? Or was it just packed really, really well with foam peanuts?
Anyway, Chris O’Donnell appears. No, wait. That’s the nuke specialist. Wasn’t he the guy outside who was going to get killed when the nuke exploded? Thanks for teleporting over for this scene, Chris! Suddenly, the nuke clock stops ticking and Harry and Chick take the opportunity to put the hurt on Sharp and Chris O’Donnell.
Back at NASA yet again, a military brass peon tells Scary General his override was overridden. I think that was his little joke, but his delivery wasn’t very good, and what with the constant jump cuts at this point, there’s very little time to really notice it.
One thing I did notice, however, is that the computer screen showing there was an override has the word “override” misspelled. A budget of over $100 million, and they couldn’t afford a spell checker.
Meanwhile, there are more control issues on the asteroid. Meh.
Back at NASA, the military brass overpower the geeks. Well, a military brass peon tells a geek peon to stop screwing around with their stuff and the geek obediently complies. Then the brass peons turn the nuke back on. Yep, powerful stuff.
On the asteroid, Harry wins Sharp over with an impassioned and whispered (that’s how we know it’s passionate) plea, saying how he’s never missed a depth he’s aimed for and, by God, he’s not about to start now. Ooh! I’m not convinced, but Sharp is, and he agrees to disarm the nuke.
You know what this means, kiddies? That’s right! It’s the Red Wire/Blue Wire sequence! Can you feel the tension and excitement?! No? Me neither. But here we go anyway!
The clock shows about 36 seconds left to kingdom come. Sharp and O’Donnell do stuff, pull out wires, talk fast. 14 seconds! 6 seconds! Ohhh! I’m so scaaaaaared! Chris O’Donnell stupidly asks, “Red? Or blue?” Dude! You’re the nuke specialist! If you don’t know which wire to cut, why would Sharp? Isn’t this your whole reason for being on the mission?
Sharp says. “Red.” Chris moves the wire cutters to red. (Good thing those were so handy.) Sharp changes his mind. “Blue.” Chris then snips the blue wire. Red, you hesitate on, but blue, you immediately cut? What? Okay! I give up. You win, movie! I give. Here, here’s my brain, I don’t need it anymore. Bah!
Of course, the timer stops and we all breathe a sigh of relief. Phew! Now it’s 2 hours and 46 minutes before they all die, instead of 2.46 seconds. What a relief. Max says, “God, it sucks up here!” News flash, Max, it’s suckin’ down here too, buddy!
Down at NASA, Scary General is informed that the nuke clock has stopped again. “At three seconds,” one of the geeks says. Well, 2.46, but no reason to get technical. It’s not rocket science or anything.
Harry gets back in radio contact with NASA. “Houston, you have a problem… problem.” Now, movie, might I remind you that when you do that, you just make me want to watch other, better movies? Harry tells them to stop trying to kill him and his crew, because they’re trying to dig a hole. All of the NASA geeks erupt into cheering (which seems to be the only thing they’re good at) as Harry sticks it to the Man for them.
And here I have to get off track again for a second, because this whole ridiculous be-jump-cutted cul-de-sac of a sub-plot brings us back to something they mentioned at the beginning of the movie. As Dr. Quincy said, if you detonate a nuke on the surface, it won’t do any damage, just like a fire cracker in the palm of your hand. (A flawed theory, I’d have to imagine, at least from the standpoint of the hand, but I get what he was saying.) So why would they even bother trying to remote detonate the nuke on the surface? It wouldn’t have accomplished anything. What was the whole point of the last fifteen minutes? Apparently, just filler for me to point at and say, “Duh!“
Now comes an interesting shot as Rockhound does some sightseeing. Check it out! He flips down his Neo-like sunglasses (which are way too cool to be on that face) inside his helmet. How did he do that? And where’d they come from?
Meanwhile, in a nearly forgotten subplot, AJ, Bear and Lev are cruising along in the Armadillo. They find their path blocked by a huge canyon and give us our second dumb Star Wars joke. The joke is so lame, I won’t even bother repeating it, but apparently it was the whole reason for this scene. This movie hates me, doesn’t it?
Cut to Harry’s team drilling away while Rockhound straddles the nuke and announces he’s Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove. In the space of like, two minutes, this movie has thrown in my face three references to vastly superior films. I can only imagine that the writers, by drawing on other excellent films, were hoping it would make their own tripe seem like a worthy companion to them. Alas, it has not worked.
So back at AJ’s Armadillo, they decide to do an Evel Knievel Canyon Jump circa 1974. Perhaps AJ doesn’t remember the Las Vegas fountain jump or the rocket-powered canyon jump, but they both went very, very wrong. And at least then, Evel had ramps. Instead, these bozos decide they’ll “jump” their tank across a flat, mile-wide canyon.
But if you’re gonna make a jump of those proportions, you gotta back up and get some speed built up, right? So AJ backs up about thirty feet. Well, that ought to do it. That’s plenty for something that moves at the speed of a tank.
Dorks that they are, they didn’t look to see if anything was in the jump path, so they fly head-on into a big spikey rock that sends them flying higher and higher and out into space. They turn on the thrusters, but of course those don’t work. So, after a few seconds of very incoherent yelling between AJ and Lev, Lev announces he’s just going to go outside and fix the problem.
While he’s out de-icing the fuel line, they hit more rocks and go into a spin. Lev, remarkably, is also a human fly equipped with Batman’s utility belt, so he’s able to hang on just fine. He yells, “AJ, the thrusters!” to which AJ answers, “Arrrrrgggghh!” AJ miraculously turns on the thrusters and the Armadillo lands predictably upright and undamaged. Uh-huh. Moving right along.
Lev starts celebrating because now he’ll really be a great Russian hero. For saving AJ and Bear? Not likely. AJ celebrates too, saying he knew his plan would work all along. Wow. That’s AJ’s plan “working”, folks. Can you even imagine what his failures must be like?
Then, in a truly fantastic moment, Lev walks back to the Armadillo, and as he heads up a hill we can see that it’s covered in grass [!!!]. That’s right, people. There’s grass on the asteroid.
Hey, after all that tense “action”, you know what we need? Some “komedy”! Rockhound to the rescue!
There he is, on top of the Armadillo and training its laser guided machine gun on everyone. He goes a little space-happy and starts shooting the heck out of the scenery, until finally Harry runs to stop him. Oh sure, Harry, if you’ve got a gun and are shooting up the joint it’s just fine, but the minute somebody else tries to have a little fun, you spaz out.
Sharp grumbles, “This isn’t sane.” Well of course not, it’s Armageddon! Eventually, it turns out Rockhound’s suffering from a rare type of “space dementia” known as being Steve Buscemi!
As Rockhound is subdued, Harry gets a weird look on his face. He tells Max he needs to back the pipe out slowly. The ground starts shaking, and somebody yells, “Earthquake!” Not to be nitpicky, can you really have “earthquakes” when you’re not on earth?
Harry tells Max to turn off the Armadillo, but Max just sits there and keeps asking stupid questions like, “What’s happening?” You’re dying. That’s what’s happening. Anything else you’d like to know?
Then we get more explosions and fires caused by, I don’t know, make up whatever reason you like. Gaseous squirrels? Why not. The Armadillo flies up into space as it bursts into flames, and there goes Max. Number two in the death pool, folks.
Back at NASA, the Armadillo naturally goes off the scopes and everyone’s sad. On the asteroid, all the guys are sad too. The Armadillo is toast. Harry picks up a handful of dirt so that it can melodramatically blow in the breeze. Yes, the breeze on an asteroid.
Anyway, Harry tells no one in particular to prepare the world for bad news.
Random News Guy tells us the mission suffered catastrophic failure (yeah, for you! Hahaha! Oh.) and everyone’s going to die. Then we get a rapid series of cuts (even more rapid than what we’ve been seeing so far) to several different stereotypical groups of people preparing to die. (Among them is a group of Hindus praying in front of the Taj Mahal. I found this odd, considering it’s actually an Islamic temple.)
Kent Brockman signs off by saying, “Good luck, and God bless.” Which makes me stop and think, because the news guys say that nearly every night. Do they know something they’re not sharing with us?
So once again, I’m reminded of a far better movie. You want to watch the world end? Go rent On the Beach. Far better movie. And better cast. Just wanted to get that last plug in. And so our movie ends. What? There’s more? How is that possible?! Well, it’s onto the next person, I guess. I’m gonna go watch Apollo 13, Star Wars, Dr. Strangelove and On the Beach now.