Week Three: #49 – Armageddon

The Nitpicker Guide to the Movies

“See the films you love in a whole new way!”

So I hadn’t seen this movie since 1998, when I saw it in the theater.  Which surprised me, when I thought about it.  Deep Impact, the other asteroid-destroying-the-Earth movie that came out that year, has long been in my collection.  I like action movies–why had I skipped owning Armageddon?

Now I remember–because this movie is so stupid we need a word that goes beyond ridiculous!  I’m not just talking about the horribly broken science-geek stuff like shuttles turning in space.  How about the fully-functional machine gun mounted on the lunar roving Armadillos?  The Dukes of Hazzard style jump over the asteroid canyon?  The fact that somehow this roughneck drilling crew can handle themselves in the most adverse, dangerous space conditions after two weeks of training?  (Did I mention the fershlugginer machine guns??)

Strap in if you dare.  It’s a dangerously stupefying journey we’re on…


            -0:02:43 This is one of those nits that crosses a wide range of movies.  The only film I can think of that has space elements and doesn’t screw this up is Serenity.  The meteorites that destroy the shuttle make a lot of noise.  Space is a vacuum.  Sound cannot travel in a vacuum!!! 

            -0:06:37 Okay, you’ve gotta put in your DVD and check this one out–it made me laugh out loud.  Eddie Griffin’s dog attacks an eight-inch Godzilla toy.  The shot cuts to a closeup of the seller for a second, then back to the fight–and in that split second the eight-inch toy has mutated into a six-foot inflatable Godzilla!  Enormous continuity error!!

            -0:11:53 Wormy science guy runs down the hall, panting, breaks into the conference room and exclaims, “We have eighteen days before it hits earth!”  Wouldn’t a telephone have been faster than the sprint down the hall?  (Not that he doesn’t need the exercise…)

            -0:24:56 So the very hour the comet was discovered, they say we have eighteen days to brace ourselves or figure out a way to save Earth.  Cut to the oil rig, and the government asking Harry Stamper to save the day.  Let’s say it took six whole hours to remember this man and get to him.  When Harry reaches NASA, he refers to eighteen hours of travel time.  So we’ve lost one day.  But as Harry learns of the problem and looks at the countdown clock, it’s at 15 days 3 hours.  What has been going on for the past two days??? 

            -0:27:16    “I’m only the best because I work with the best.”  This scene, where Stamper rejects the astronaut team and demands his own guys go into space, is inserted to establish why it makes sense to take the two weeks we have left to save the Earth and prep a bunch of oil drillers to go into space.  I’m not buying.  In fact…this premise wins the coveted Will Award for outstanding ridiculousness!

-1:02:50    The heroic walk to the shuttles.  The driller “astronauts” are in their orange suits.  All the NASA techs have clean-room type plasticwear on.  Why is Gracie standing there in a dress and heels?  (I’m not saying I want her to be in a clean-room type suit, mind you…)

-1:07:55    Interior shuts of the shuttles show this incredibly bright light glaring into the cockpit through the front windscreen.  What is the purpose of this light?  I’m not saying it isn’t dramatic, but I am saying it’s useless and ridiculous–and it continues throughout the movie.

-1:11:04    I can’t believe I’m watching this.  Both shuttles turn in space, lining up their approach to the space station.  You can’t turn in a vacuum, there’s no air pressure to turn against.  (Am I getting too technical here?)

-1:27:30 The Freedom landing and the Independence crash are awfully loud, considering there is no atmosphere for sound to travel through.

-1:36:05   I had completely forgotten about the moment when A.J. decides to get the Armadillo out of the crashed shuttle bay by firing the forward mounted machine gun.  The forward.  Mounted.  Machine gun.  (Which they brought along in case of…um…velociraptors)

-1:42:30    I guess if it makes sense that the Armadillo has an enormous machine gun, it also makes sense that there is a handgun on-board the NASA space shuttle Freedom.  There’s probably a lot of mutiny in space.  It just doesn’t make the papers.

-1:46:28   Misspellings always make me happy.  On the official government nuclear briefcase screen, the word override appears as overrride.  With three Rs.  Yay!

-1:47:53    At 1:47:23 the bomb countdown read 1:11.  Chick hasn’t struck me as the smartest guy in the world, but I think he can still read a clock.  He’s looking at the bomb and says “one minute” right here, although if the clock has been counting properly, they’ve only got thirty seconds left.

-1:48:00 “I’ve been drilling holes for thirty years and I have never missed a depth that I have aimed for!”  And a lot of those holes were in deep-space asteroids with only an hour or so to go six hundred feet before the entire Earth is destroyed!

-1:49:16 The blue wire is cut, and the bomb stops at 2 seconds.  That clock took one minute and fifty-five seconds to count off 1:11!

-1:52:58   Question: which is stupider, the bus jump in Speed or the Armadillo jumping the ravine?  (Answer: well, they both have problems, but with Speed, I at least cared whether or not they landed successfully)

            -2:16:35 The Armadillo has a machine gun.  Of course the Crazy Cosmonaut fixes the shuttle’s thruster problem by bashing a wrench against the panel.

-2:16:59 Oh good, they have that unexplained light shining through the shuttle windscreen again.  Plus the takeoff is loud (sound in space) and the shuttle turns as it leaves the asteroid.  (“Screw the laws of physics!  Just get us out of here!”)

-2:19:19 Shots from around the world make it look like the asteroid’s detonation is visible everywhere.  That’s not possible.  (Line of sight, baby)

-2:20:30 More round-the-world shots…it appears to be 3 p.m. everywhere!

-2:21:13 Those whiz-bang shuttle designers!  When the shuttle landed on the asteroid, we clearly saw skids coming out to land on.  Now the shuttle is coming down at Kennedy Space Center, and there’s wheels down there!  Whaddya know!

Thank the good Lord–the credits.  I could probably find something to nitpick in the A.J./Gracie wedding, but I just don’t care anymore.

So very tired.

I’m going to try and recuperate over the weekend, as we move from Ben Affleck to Ben Stiller for #48, Night at the Museum.  See you in seven…


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