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Category:    Home > Reviews > Disaster > Action > Armageddon (1998/Touchstone Blu-ray)

Armageddon (1998/Touchstone Blu-ray)

 

Picture: B+     Sound: A-     Extras: C     Film: B+

 

 

Since the beginning of time it seems that people have imagined the destruction of the world.  It may be a deeply rooted philosophical query that questions humankind’s importance to the earth; or it could simply be our own self centered nature that presumes we are of any importance at all.  Regardless, from books to film there seems to be an unending number of takes on how it will all go down.

 

In 1998 Armageddon hit theaters with a bang.  It was a big budget film with an all star cast that promised booming special effects and a captivating tale or heroics.  Jerry Bruckheimer (Pirates of the Caribbean series) and Michael Bay (Transformers) are known for their big budget “blow-em-up” films and for Bruckheimer Armageddon was made at the time just when he found his knack; quickly following smash hits like Bad Boys (1995), The Rock (1996) and Con Air (1997).

 

Armageddon’s storyline was creative for the time but nothing that takes too long to explain; in turn showing that Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer are not always so much about depth.  Essentially there is a meteor hurdling toward earth and the governments of the world are left scrambling to find a solution.  The solution in the end is to destroy the asteroid by drilling into its center and setting off a nuclear bomb; splitting the deadly rock into two and saving the world.  The NASA’s finest minds are setup to go into space, but not having the drilling skills needed to take on the beast NASA must enlist the help of roughneck oil drillers to get the job done.  At first NASA’s director (played by Billy Bob Thornton) only wanted the team’s head honcho (played by Bruce Willis), but he won’t go up without his team.  So a misfit team of varied personalities is made which features the acting credits of Owen Wilson, Ben Affleck, Steve Buscemi, Will Patton and Michael Clark Duncan.  After some brief training/evaluation exercises the men are launched into space along side some of NASA’s finest, split into two separate teams.  Of course mishaps and the unexpected occur, not making the job easy; but with Bruce Willis in charge you know this mission is as good as complete.

 

Whereas so many other disaster movies have and are still failing to deliver a solid film, Armageddon managed to work in all the right ways.  Michael Bay may rely heavily on big budgets to get his ‘message’ across, but at the same time he never takes himself seriously.  He uses plenty of gags and the ‘frat boy’ mentality to make the film fun and interesting from beginning to end.  Also while other films spend their money all on not-so-special effects, Bay manages to balance the explosive effect with a recognizable and well rounded cast.  The cast is fun, likeable and have the acting chops to bring the story to life.  In the end, Bay can put together a film.  As previously mentioned it may lack depth, but the laugh-out-loud humor and intense story make it all worth while.

 

The technical features of this Blu-ray are very well done with the exception of the extras.  The 1080p AVC MPEG-4 encoded picture in a 2.35 x 1 aspect ratio is crisp, clean and clear.  The sharpness is stunning and the colors explode off the screen as the deep inky blacks frame each image almost perfectly.  The detail is fine and there are only the occasional moments of softness.  Where as the image is by no means perfect it is nice and only suffers because it is a bit of an older film from older stock.  The sound is a 5.1 DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless that is fully immersive with a booming presentation that utilizes the entire soundscape.  The directionality is solid throughout, with a balanced bass that many films would die to have.  It is a loud film that it is done in all the right ways, coupled with a pristine dialogue track to round off an already impressive presentation.

 

The extras are weak and only feature the film’s trademark Aerosmith video “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” and a theatrical trailer.  The extras definitely leave more to be desired as the Criterion Collection release of the film (on both DVD and in an old 12” LaserDisc box set) had a plethora of great extras to dive into; making this release a tad disappointing.

 

I expect a double dip of this film, but not any time soon.  All in all it was a solid release that is almost demo quality.  In this reviewer’s opinion Armageddon is a must own on Blu-ray.

 

 

-  Michael P. Dougherty II


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