Armageddon (1998)

The Criterion Collection contains a few baffling titles, but this may be the most baffling (though The Rock isn’t far behind). You can make the argument (cf. this gentleman) that it’s fair enough for them to include it as an example of 90s Hollywood studio filmmaking given that the collection is chock-full of studio product from other decades… but it’s a thin argument when we’re considering the respective quality of the films involved. It was on TV tonight, so I thought I may as well watch it to see if I’d finally understand… and while I was oddly amused by the recurring bottom-of-screen promos for David Koch’s Sunrise analysis of how the current European economic crisis will  “impact” you (terrific choice of words considering this film’s plot about an asteroid coming to blast the Earth), I’m still a bit bemused. Matthew Dessem’s review (linked above) says the film exemplifies “the big, dumb, loud, critic-proof summer blockbuster”, which really does kind of say it all. What it further supports, of course, is every argument about the post-70s blockbuster just being a “B” film with an “A” budget. I could totally imagine this film having been made about 20 or even 15 years earlier than it was, and I wish it had been; the budget would’ve been a fraction of the $140m spent on this thing and, crucially, it would’ve run about 90 minutes rather than 150, retaining the cheese while ditching the slo-mo and the padding and adding a degree of narrative efficiency. The end result might still have been crap, but at least it might’ve still looked like it was made by someone interested in making an actual movie rather than just a 150-minute demo reel for CGI explosions interspersed with shouting. Maybe the cynics who say Criterion released Armageddon purely to make money and offset the costs of their less revenue-raising titles are right…

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