Armageddon (1998) (part 13 of 13)
Thankfully, there’s not a whole hell of a lot left for me to recap here. Believe me folks, I’m just as exhausted as you are.
Rastaroid finally blows up, and for some reason, it explodes into a supernova, and the shuttle crew winces as the bright light hits their eyes. As Rastaroid detonates, it sends out cartoon waves of concussive force that are strongly reminiscent of the Klingon moon Praxis blowing up in Star Trek VI. So now this movie is reminding us of other movies that are simply “meh”.
Cut back to Mission Control, where everyone is euphorically cheering. Um, a guy just died, so I think in reality the celebration would be a bit more muted.
Using more Bank-Of-America-ad style cinematography, we get slow-motion shots of people around the world seeing the explosion. The Hindus outside the Taj Mahal rise to their feet cheering, and then a family of corn-fed Midwesterners peers out a window frame, a worn American flag flapping beside them. Norman Rockwell, eat your heart out! Of course, I have to wonder why both of these groups see the explosion in pretty much the same position in the sky, seeing as how they’re on opposite sides of the world and everything.
Out in space, ice and debris fly at the camera, and it’s finally revealed that Rastaroid has now split in two according to plan. At Mission Control, somebody announces that the two halves will completely miss Earth, and all the small particles have conveniently been vaporized.
With all of that killer asteroid stuff neatly and quickly sewn up, the shuttle heads home. Inside, Bear takes a moment to observe, “Yo, Harry, you da man.” Which is a fitting tribute if I ever heard one. Next, Sharp will tip a forty to Harry’s memory.
More celebrations break out at Mission Control, and Dan Truman actually hugs Scary General. Then he looks up and sees Grace, and his smile fades, as if it just now hit him that maybe the head of NASA shouldn’t be so ecstatic about an astronaut dying when his next of kin is in the same room. Cut to Truman at Grace’s side, and she sees him and embraces him. Damn, Truman’s getting all the love today, huh?
Cue slow-motion shot of more jubilant Midwesterners rushing out of a rustic church surrounded by a white picket fence. Crowds of people cheer outside a mosque. Then there’s a slow-motion shot of some kids riding homemade, wooden scooter versions of the Space Shuttle. What? Scooters? Is this 1956? Are these kids gonna go watch Captain Video later?
Then, in yet another slow-motion shot, three perfectly blonde kids with close-cropped haircuts run down a street, and they have toy Space Shuttles in their hands. And the kids just happen to run right past a wall mural of John F. Kennedy. Is any of this too subtle for you?
The shuttle begins re-entry. Chick reveals that he’s always hated flying, so it would be an “awful shame to die now”, and I can only guess at what that’s supposed to mean. Rockhound tells Chick to speak for himself, taking the opportunity to remind us he owes “100 grand to a bad-ass loan shark, which I spent on a stripper named Molly Mounds!” The only way I can interpret this statement is that he’s okay with dying during re-entry.
We cut to footage of the computer-generated (and very cheesy) Freedom making its landing. The astronauts inflate a slide chute to the runway as Rockhound declares they’re all heroes now. “So, that incident with me and the gun on the asteroid, let’s just keep that under wraps, alright?” How about we keep this whole movie under wraps while we’re at it?
They all slide down the chutes as slow-motion helicopters advance towards their location. Then we see the shuttle crew all walking in slow-motion down the runway in yet another blatant swipe from The Right Stuff. Only, um, there’s no shuttle behind them. The damn thing has apparently disappeared.
They’re met by men in silver Hazmat suits, and for some reason, Grace is among them, still wearing nothing but her black pseudo-geisha outfit. Grace, I think those guys are wearing Hazmat suits for a reason. But hey, since she’s the Daughter/Girlfriend and therefore special, she gets to rush ahead of the Hazmat guys. In slow-motion, Grace and AJ run to each other and she jumps into his arms. As they embrace, the Hazmat guys all applaud and give each other high-fives. People, help me out here. Could this ending get any more clichéd?
Uh-oh, I think it can. We then get a close-up of Chick in slow-motion, followed by a kid hopping out of an SUV in slow-motion. Yep, you guessed it, it’s his son, wearing a t-shirt decorated with the American flag. I have to give props to Michael Bay, because this is all very restrained and understated.
The kid runs to Chick for an emotional hug. You know it’s emotional because it’s in slow-motion. Then there’s the obligatory shot of Chick and Ex-Wifey embracing, leaving little doubt that the two will reconcile. I hate this movie. I really, really hate this movie.
Back to Grace and AJ, as Col. Sharp appears and salutes Grace. “Requesting permission to shake the hand of the daughter of the bravest man I’ve ever met!” She then chooses to grant him that permission. I’m sure the suspense was killing you.
Suddenly, a French stripper, presumably Molly Mounds, appears and calls out to Rockhound. She dives on top of him, knocking him flat on the runway. “Oh, baby,” Rockhound says as they make out, “I wanna have babies with you!” I don’t how a French stripper figured out where the shuttle was going to land, much less got allowed entrance onto the runway, but since we’re just about done here, I’m keeping my mouth shut.
In slow-motion, Truman walks over to AJ and Grace. “Welcome back, Cowboy!” AJ then hands him the cloth mission patch that Harry wanted Truman to have. Truman just stares at it, doing a weak impression of Billy Bob Thornton acting out an emotional moment.
Right on cue, six fighter jets fly in formation overhead, leaving white smoke trails in their wake. Now, that was definitely well-timed. If they had invested half as much planning into blowing up Rastaroid as they did into getting those jets to fly over at exactly the right moment, the whole mission would gone a hell of a lot smoother.
Anyway, AJ and Grace kiss, and on that predictable note, we fade out.
Suddenly, we hear the voice of Grace’s real father Stephen Tyler as we pan across the ceiling of a church. A zoom down the aisle reveals a wedding. Yep, it’s Ben Affleck doing the very thing he pussed out of doing three months ago: He’s marrying Grace.
Bridal Grace looks over at the front pew and sees Col. Sharp, Bear, Rockhound, and Rockhound’s French whore. This doesn’t seem very likely. Seriously, I think if either Rockhound or that whore even stepped foot into a church, they would both instantly burst into flame.
Panning further over, we find big glossy photos of Harry, Oscar, Max, and that random driller who died. Yeah, let’s pay tribute to people whose names we don’t even remember. (And there’s no picture of Gruber, by the way.) And while we’re at it, let’s not have an actual funeral or anything like that. No, let’s pay our last respects to the four men at the wedding. I guess churches are really expensive to rent out, and they wanted to take care of both ceremonies in one shot.
To our horror, the closing credits then roll over a supposedly “amusing” montage of AJ and Grace’s wedding. See, this is one of those movies that isn’t satisfied to pound you to a feeble mess during the actual film. Nope, it’s got to traumatize you during the closing credits, too.
Aerosmith performs Diane Warren’s abysmal (and, sadly, Oscar-nominated) ballad “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” as we get split-screen, grainy images of the wedding. Let’s see, first Diane Warren did this song, then she wrote some tunes for American Idol winners, and now she’s responsible for the theme song to Star Trek: Enterprise. All in all, I think she’s destroyed more than Rastaroid ever could.
More totally hackneyed wedding shots are seen, and almost none of them are worth mentioning. A shot reveals Lev at the wedding, wearing his Red Army uniform as he kisses Grace. Then comes the obligatory shot of someone getting their face smashed with wedding cake. (For those who care, Bear is the smasher, and AJ the smashee.)
We fade to black and the remaining credits roll, and we get a very unique disclaimer at the end.
Translation: There’s no way on God’s green earth that the real NASA would ever pull the kind of shit you just witnessed.
That’s all I can say right now. Wow.
I think I speak for all seven of us when I say, thank God it’s finally over.
In my experience, most movies commonly referred to as “the worst of movie of all time” almost never live down to their hype. This movie, however, deserves every single negative word that has ever been hurled its way.
The critics were right, after all: Armageddon only exists as a vicious assault on the senses. You have to be thankful that Bay could only offend our senses of sight and sound with this movie. Imagine what horrors Armageddon could have wrought had Smell-O-Vision actually caught on.
Armageddon was humanity’s darkest hour, and fittingly, Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay should be tried like war criminals. All the countries of the world should band together and convene a special tribunal to find out why this atrocity was made and to make sure it never, ever happens again.
So far, it hasn’t happened again. I think it says a lot about how big and dumb this movie is that, despite its success, nobody has attempted to really duplicate it. This year’s The Core, which played fast and loose with the laws of geophysics, had many Bad Movie lovers hoping it would be Armageddon II. But, as bad as it was, it did not even come close to the badness achieved by Michael Bay.
After Armageddon, even the dumbest action films had an iota of brain power. In some ways, this almost restores my faith in humanity. Maybe money isn’t the only thing that gets certain scripts greenlit over others. And maybe, just maybe, humanity doesn’t deserve to be obliterated by a rogue asteroid, after all.