It is difficult not to compare ARMAGEDDON with DEEP IMPACT — so, let’s just get it out in the open: both are huge science fiction disaster flicks with ARMAGEDDON possessing a few more hormones, steroids and attitude and less of the philosophic musings of DEEP IMPACT. It is no surprise that the male, action-oriented director of ARMAGEDDON crafted THE ROCK, which was a blur of adrenaline, and the producer of ARMAGEDDON commanded both THE ROCK and CON AIR, two-pumped up action films.
ARMAGEDDON starts with several bangs — a telltale sign that the filmmaker wants to capture his audience. First, there is a brief preface to the movie which is beautifully produced but scientifically suspect. This preface purports to show that sixty-five million years ago (if you believe these fatally flawed estimates of prehistory) an asteroid hit the earth causing so much dust and pollution that it wiped out the dinosaurs. [Insightful thinkers will recognize that this theory has its origin in occultist Erich von Daniken’s fairly recent attempt to denigrate the traditional extinction of the dinosaur explanation which appears in the legends and histories of most civilizations — the global flood. In our politically correct age, von Daniken’s New Age musings were accepted scientific theory for a brief moment before the facts forced an alternate explanation.] However, this anti-biblical preface passes very quickly, after giving the audience a pseudo-scientific set-up so they can anticipate what might happen if a bigger asteroid hit the earth.
The next bang is a meteor shower, which wipes out a space shuttle crew and then rains havoc on New York, damaging impressive buildings, cars and some all-too-vulnerable Godzilla dolls. These intense opening disaster sequences set up the audience for the final spectacular nuclear explosion.
However, going back to the beginning of the movie, when the meteor shower hits, NASA finds out that there is a giant asteroid the size of Texas headed straight for earth. According to some quick calculations, the asteroid is going to decimate the earth in 20 days. When the director of NASA, Dan Truman (Billy Bob Thornton), is asked by the President why NASA hadn’t noticed this asteroid before, he quips that Congress only appropriated a meager million dollar space surveillance budget — and space is a big place.
After some haggling, NASA decides to send a crew up in two new space shuttles to drill into the asteroid and plant a nuclear bomb. NASA realizes that it needs the best driller in the world to teach the astronauts. The only man for the job is Harry Stamper, played by Bruce Willis, a guy with a bad attitude and a big heart. The audience meets the politically incorrect Stamper hitting golf balls off his oil rig at a Green Peace protest boat crew. When he finds out that his daughter Grace is having an affair with one of his favorite crewmen, A.J. Frost, played by Ben Affleck, he gets out his shotgun to arrange the wedding. His DIRTY DOZEN crew of misfits come to A.J.’s aid just as the NASA helicopter lands to bring Stamper and Grace back to Houston.
When told about the mission in Houston, Stamper says, “They don’t need astronauts, they need professional drillers,” and so his dirty dozen team, complete with tattoos, quirky intelligence, rippling muscles, and rebellious attitudes, are suited up to go and save the planet.
Although the story is predictable, the character development and scripting is so good that this roller coaster keeps the audience on the edge of their seat, up to the very last minute. Reconciliation scenes, romantic scenes, good-old-boy scenes, laying-down-your-life-to-save-the-world scenes all provide the necessary cadence to keep the emotions on edge. This is a much more straight forward movie than DEEP IMPACT, and it received wild applause at the end of the press screening. Aside from the few nods at evolution, there is much God talk, prayers, quoting of the Bible, and the unadulterated pure man in the foxhole exclamation of “Thank you Jesus. Thank you Lord. God bless you Jesus.” Grace repents and tells her father how much she loves him; A.J. asks Grace to marry him; good prevails; and, the movie plays the heartstrings.
If it wasn’t for the foul language, which is pretty mild for this type of film, and the one bar scene with the one member of the crew who has an overactive libido, this would be a very acceptable film. However, all these elements (including the language and the bar scene) are there to capture all the different audiences out there. Women will like the romance, some men will like the action, others will like the father/daughter reconciliation, and Christians will love the positive prayers and references to Jesus.
Regrettably, the major premise of this movie is stated almost too clearly. This asteroid is about to cause ARMAGEDDON, which they define in the movie as the end of the world, although the Bible defines it as the last battle. There is even a statement that the inevitable destruction which may occur fulfills all of those most frightening prophecies of the Bible. However, the dialogue announces that this is the first time that man has the ingenuity and the technology to stop Armageddon. In other words, in the final analysis, even with all the appeals to God, it is man who triumphs over the apocalypse. So man is the measure of all things, and man even has the ability to thwart God’s plan. It is doubtful the filmmakers saw themselves as making a statement of this magnitude, but it is clear that this is the statement the movie is making, and it is also clear from the film that salvation and afterlife is not based on a relationship with Jesus Christ, but on man’s own good deeds. Therefore, MOVIEGUIDE’s advice if you see this exciting action movie is to reflect afterwards on the sovereignty of God and not to be influenced by this ode to man’s courage, will power and ability.
Each of these two asteroid disaster films has something to recommend, and something to condemn. Neither of them are going to do much damage to the psyche of teenagers, but both demand discernment, as you enjoy their pyrotechnic displays of man’s new found special effects mastery.
(Pa, E, CC, LLL, VV, S, N, A, D, M) Eclectic worldview with evolutionary elements, pagan elements, anti-biblical elements, moral, & Christian elements including sacrificing oneself for others & appeals to Jesus & God with the humanist premise that man triumphs over prophecy; 30 obscenities (mostly mild) & 10 profanities (mostly mild); lots of action special effects, with violence such as hurtling meteors, crashing spaceships, breaking apart oil rigs, with consequent injury to people, but very little blood and gore & only brief man to man combat including shoving & pointing a gun at someone; implied fornication; revealing clothing & bar scene with girls in very revealing clothing, but no nudity & no onscreen sex; alcohol use; smoking; and, disobedience to authority & rebellious attitudes that are rebuked & resolved.