Armageddon (1998) (part 7 of 13)
Well, it’s time for another sequence where some Dramamine would be handy. There are tons of quick cuts of various stuff happening at “Kennedy Space Center, Florida”, according to the ever-helpful caption. Of course, we didn’t really need that, since Truman just said they were all going to Florida, but let’s move on.
Voicing over this scene are several news reporters all talking about the dire situation that the planet is in. Of course, Michael Bay can’t just leave things at that, so we only get to hear a couple seconds of each news broadcast, with a few even being cut off in mid-sentence. Also, for some reason, CNN is the only network name-dropped here. The last of these newscasts states that “there could be a very serious problem.” I guess they’re a little behind.
Truman’s voiceover gives us a little recap of the situation, then we cut to the launch pad, where yet another caption informs us that there’s twelve hours until the launch. There’s a close up of the big clock, which was apparently lugged all the way here from Mission Control, but the harsh angle it’s filmed at makes reading the numbers almost impossible.
Somewhere far away, Harry meets up with Grace in some kind of hollowed-out rotunda that looks straight out of Myst. They have a little healing conversation where Grace says she doesn’t blame Harry for anything, not even for her mother leaving. Of course, this is the first we’ve heard of her mother leaving, and it’s never mentioned again. And I know it’s a cheap shot, but damn, Liv Tyler is terrible in this movie. We know from The Lord of the Rings that she can act, but here it seems like she just decided not to waste her energy.
Right in the middle of the conversation, there’s a completely unwarranted close-up of a plaque dedicated to the crew of Apollo I. It includes the Latin phrase “Ad astra per aspera” (meaning “a rough road leads to the stars”, or translated literally, “to the heavens through adversity”), which also happens to be the motto of my old high school. Okay, now it’s personal!
We learn that the President plans to give a speech, and then there’s several somber slow-motion shots of everyone getting into their monogrammed orange space suits. Once whatever emotional value this holds (i.e., not much) has been milked for all it’s worth, the mood is completely destroyed.
As if the Animal Cracker Bit wasn’t bad enough, when AJ and Grace say their goodbyes, AJ launches into a rendition of “Leaving on a Jet Plane”. Soon Bear and then Rockhound and then Max all join in, which the NASA guys predictably aren’t too happy about. Nor is John Denver, wherever he is.
Immediately, the mood turns back to somber as we get more slow-motion shots of the boys getting into the shuttles, while the President gives a speech that’s pretty much a low-rent version of the one from Independence Day. He says, “The Bible calls this day Armageddon. The end of all things.” Because Christianity is the only religion that really matters, right?
We get shots of people all around the world listening to the broadcast, and it appears this movie has just pulled a Superman IV, because it’s late afternoon everywhere on the planet.
Chick’s son sees the broadcast and tells his mother that the “salesman” is on TV. Apparently, the fact that he’s trying to stop the asteroid makes Ex-Wifey completely forgive him for whatever caused them to get divorced in the first place. She tells the kid that it’s really his father. Well, that was just a big plot cul-de-sac, wasn’t it?
As the guys get in the shuttles, we’re reminded that, rather wisely, Harry and AJ are being kept apart until they get to the asteroid. Rockhound makes a couple more lame quips, as this is his sole lot in life, while Oscar rambles on and on about how intense the whole thing is.
Here tediousness is defined for a whole new generation, as we get to watch two shuttles taking off for three solid minutes. The shuttles blast off, roll around, and discharge their stages, all to swelling patriotic music. Yep, just slap the flag all over something and people will fall all over themselves praising it. Is that how things work, Mr. Bay?