Sunday, July 7, 2013

Summer Cinema: Armageddon

Everything goes in waves and cycles, right?  The ocean, fame, sports teams, relationships, training and eating plans, good luck, misfortunes.  Nothing gold can stay yet it can't rain all the time.

Same thing with movie programming around Los Angeles.  Recently, The New Beverly Cinema just didn't seem like it had things together.  Programs were only announced the week prior, special events and speakers seemed few and far in between and many of the films playing just plain didn't interest me.  Cut to last week and the triple threat of Last Action Hero, Armageddon and The Right Stuff reeled me right back in.  Unfortunately, seeing The Right Stuff on the big screen just wasn't meant to be as work, life and a hangover kept me from attending.

Not so for Michael Bay's 1998 recruiting ad for Nasa and so much more, Armageddon.  After chips, tacos and margaritas at El Coyote down the street (I really should take more pictures, I happy hour as frequently as I see movies!), it was time to take a trip back to the good ol' 90's.  I remember going to Driver's Ed and letting a friend borrow the soundtrack to Armageddon that summer.  I'm sure the members of Aerosmith remember that summer well, their "Don't Want To Miss A Thing" was everywhere and that album sold something like 3 million copies.

It was surprisingly yet not surprisingly kind of empty inside.  Say what you want about Michael Bay but Bad Boys, The Rock (Michael Biehn as a Navy Seal alert!) and Armageddon are all top notch examples of why we go to the movies.  Big, glossy, filled with movie stars, explosions, jokes and thrills.  As he would showcase the Air Force in Transformers in the 2000's, here, Bay puts the slick, smart and determined spotlight on The National Aeronautics and Space Administration.  The members of NASA, led by Billy Bob Thornton, are the good guys of Armageddon.  They discover, assess and react to the threat of an asteroid heading towards Earth.  Meanwhile, the military is shown as a bunch of macho posers who do nothing but bark, come up with shitty ideas and get their asses killed dead.

I was surprised at how much of the flick works, it's a disaster movie from the 70's on PED's (Performance Enhancing Drugs, steroids is too general a term used by uneducated low foreheads) with a large, memorable cast of characters played by wonderful actors (Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Owen Wilson, Steve Buscemi, Michael Clarke Duncan, Peter Stormare...).  On some level you know it's all impossibly implausible (oil drillers sent to space to drop a nuke into a potentially world ending asteroid...actually it sounds less ludicrous than trying to explain the plot of I Come In Peace...)but it's also incredibly fun and exciting.  Strangely, the scenes that fall flattest are the emotional anchor types with Affleck and love interest Liv Tyler.  The stakes continue to rise and saving the world is far from a cake walk.  Plus, if you don't feel a little something at the end during the Affleck/Willis or Willis/Tyler scenes, well, you're just too cool for this school.

Now, if someone could just screen The Rock.  Until then, enjoy this clip of a Russian Astronaut.

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