Armageddon (1998) (part 10 of 13)

The drillers wonder what to do next. Meanwhile, I wonder why NASA couldn’t have studied the many considerably large asteroid fragments in order to learn Rastaroid’s hardness, and develop a drill bit that was capable of drilling through it. But I guess that’s just my East Coast intelligentsia bias speaking. After all, NASA was more preoccupied with selecting the people least capable to do the job than worrying about that kind of trivial stuff.

Rastaroid continues to hurtle toward Earth, while back at Houston, a group of techies have wandered onto the CSI set. They’re lit green against the dim blue room as they explain the latest plot contrivance. It seems the moon’s gravitational pull has sent the asteroid into a full spin and soon communications will be lost.

Scary General cuts to the chase. “If we lose the shuttle com, when do we lose the ability to remote detonate that nuke?” A woman who looks and sounds like a blonde Demi Moore explains that after the seven minute window closes, a higher orbiting satellite will give them an additional five minutes. Dr. Quincy says this means they’ve got twelve minutes to decide. Thanks, Skipper. I mean, I shudder to think of how many brain cells this film has killed, but I still think I could have done that bit of arithmetic myself.

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Back on Rastaroid, AJ drives the Armadillo towards Harry’s signal. An incredulous Lev asks AJ if he realizes they’re stuck on an asteroid, and wants to know if he has the slightest clue what he’s doing. AJ angrily replies, “I have no idea what I’m doing! No idea! This button? I have no idea what this button does!” Perhaps that’s why you should have familiarized yourself with the equipment instead of tearing it to pieces the first time you laid eyes on it.

Meanwhile, Harry and Chick return to the shuttle and Col. Sharp asks how far they’ve gotten. Harry ducks the question and asks him to help with the transmission, but Sharp has to give a status report, so he presses the question. Harry snaps that they’re “not as deep as we’ll be when you stop asking these questions and help us load this transmission!” Yeah, who needs status reports or protocols when you can just rush right into another bullheaded display of brawn?

Sharp loses his patience and announces they’ve had two hours and need to be at 200 feet. Harry reluctantly admits they’re only at fifty-seven. Sharp looks horrified and rushes to the com room, with Harry close behind.

At the controls, Watts, or as I’ll be calling her, Astronaut Useless gets a shaky connection with Houston. Sharp pulls out a random card that says “Drill Time” as he explains that at the current rate, they have over ten hours to go, which puts them four hours past the “zero time”.

Harry grabs the com and yells, “This is what happens when you drill!” No Harry, this is what happens when you suck and fail. “We cannot use your Air Force personnel-only drill time card! Who wrote this thing, anyway?” Probably someone with a great deal more knowledge and understanding of the situation than you, Harry. A certain someone who is probably rocking in a corner and weeping to himself as all his hard work goes completely to waste.

Armageddon (1998) (part 10 of 13)

From the makers of Hammer Time!

Astronaut Useless warns that communications are breaking up, and the gang in Houston watch dutifully as our saviors have a petty squabble on the screens. At this point, my temper is such that I would gladly go see the next ten Michael Bay movies if this one ended with the cast strapped to the asteroid and sent screaming into the sun.

Harry insists there’s still time, while Sharp points out they’ve had their chance and they blew it. And if the movie expects me to go “boo hiss” at Sharp raining on Harry’s parade, they can just forget it. Harry offers the lame comeback of “Go write a report, why don’tcha?” as he stomps off to the controls. He’s dead-set that his men will dig this hole, and Sharp strikes one for the audience when he proclaims, “You and your men are the biggest mistake in the history of NASA!” And considering all the mistakes in NASA’s history, that’s still putting it mildly.

Meanwhile, the President has been informed of the situation. He places a call to Scary General and tells him it’s time for “Secondary Protocol”. This basically means that, at Houston, the elevator doors open dramatically and a flank of Air Force soldiers march out. It would have been hilarious if right before they appeared, we had been shown them patiently waiting for Secondary Protocol while idly playing Gameboys and flipping through InStyle.

The soldiers’ jackboots echo ominously through the hall. I think that’s too subtle, Mr. Bay. Couldn’t you have filched the Imperial March from Star Wars for the full effect?

Grace continues the proud action movie tradition where anything without a Y-chromosome cracks under pressure, as she hysterically tries to stop them from setting off the nuke. This prompts Truman to let loose with the one allowed utterance of the F-word in a PG-13 movie before he angrily storms off.

Then a proud Michael Bay tradition continues with various hands typing in codes on several metallic suitcases, numerous characters shouting for them to stop, and all of it not making a bit of sense.

On the asteroid, Sharp punches a code on a locker, then pulls out a handgun and an envelope marked “SECONDARY PROTOCOL EYES ONLY”. Astronaut Useless looks at him wide-eyed. Sharp tells her to start evacuation procedures.

Chick and Harry are standing near the nuke’s control panel when it suddenly lights up. Chick nervously asks why the nine-foot nuclear weapon just turned on, and all Harry can do is stand there dumbstruck and whisper, “My God.”

Armageddon (1998) (part 10 of 13)

Hey, who knew Texas Instruments made nuclear warheads? Not me!

You know, I’ve figured it out. Willis’ performance in this movie consists of 50% shouting about how his men will complete this mission, and 50% standing rooted to the spot whispering, “My God”.

Jessica Ritchey

Born in Western North Carolina, Juniper was discovered in a filthy shack in the lovely Blue Ridge Mountains, speaking a made up language to a tattered rag doll, her only companion. Her social skills have improved little in the intervening years. She is currently making flailing efforts at being a freelance writer. One of history's supreme procrastinators she plans on writing a book about it someday.

Multi-Part Article: Armageddon (1998)

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