Dom Robinson reviews

For Love. For Honour. For Mankind.
Distributed by
Pioneer Entertainment Europe

  • PLFEC 37681Cover
  • Cert: 12
  • Running time: 145 minutes
  • Sides: 3 (CLV)
  • Year: 1998
  • Pressing: 1999
  • Chapters: 28 (9/8/10+1)
  • Sound: Dolby Surround
  • Widescreen: 2.35:1
  • Price: £24.99
  • Extras : Original Theatrical Trailer


      Michael Bay

    (Bad Boys, The Rock)


    Jerry Bruckheimer, Gale Anne Hurd and Michael Bay


    Jonathan Hensleigh and J.J. Abrams


    Trevor Rabin


    Harry Stamper: Bruce Willis (Blind Date, Color Of Night, Death Becomes Her, Die Hard 1-3, The Fifth Element, The Jackal, Last Boy Scout, Last Man Standing, Pulp Fiction, Striking Distance, Twelve Monkeys)
    Dan Truman: Billy Bob Thornton (Sling Blade, U-Turn)
    A.J. Frost: Ben Affleck (Chasing Amy, Good Will Hunting)
    Grace Stamper: Liv Tyler (Heavy, Inventing The Abbots, Stealing Beauty)
    Chick: Will Patton (Copycat, Fled, In The Soup, Inventing The Abbots, No Way Out, The Postman, The Rapture)
    Rockhound: Steve Buscemi (Airheads, Con Air, Desperado, Escape From L.A., Fargo, In The Soup, Kansas City, Living In Oblivion, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Things To Do In Denver…, Trees Lounge)
    Col. Willie Sharp: William Fichtner (Albino Alligator, Contact)
    Oscar: Owen Wilson (Bottle Rocket)
    Bear: Michael Clarke Duncan
    Lev Andropov: Peter Stormare (Fargo)
    General Kimsey: Keith David (Clockers, Dead Presidents, Marked For Death, They Live, Volcano)
    Ronald Quincy: Jason Isaacs (Dangerous Lady, Event Horizon)
    Jennifer Watts: Jessica Steen (Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future)

Armageddonis the latest in a long line of action-packed triumphs forproducer Jerry Bruckheimer following Con Air, The Rock, Enemy Of TheState, Top Gun and Days of Thunder.

In similar fashion to the recent Deep Impact, a comet is headed for Earthbut while they had a year to think about it and played the whole film out as adrama, Armageddon turns everything on its head with an action-packed filmthat has more comedy in it than you’d expect when the characters are in asituation which is likely to result in the end of the world…and they onlyhave 18 days.

When NASA’s executive director, Dan Truman (Billy Bob-Thornton), learnsthat the way to destroy the comet is to drill a hole down to its core and burya nuclear weapon. Of course the way to succeed is to enlist the help of maverickoil driller Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis) who is, allegedly, the bestdriller in the business. Making even more of a mockery of the situation is thefact that when Harry demands that he only takes his own team, not thefully-trained team who have been in astronaut school for the past eight months,all Dan can say is, “You got it”, as opposed to, “Not a chance”, so you can seethis is not a film to take seriously.

It also has some great one-liners, mostly coming from fast-talking Rockhound(Steve Buscemi, reliable as ever). When strapped into the rocket andabout to take off, he observes,

“We’re sitting on four million pounds offuel, one nuclear weapon
and a thing that has 270,000 moving parts,built by the lowest bidder.
Makes you feel good, doesn’t it (?)”

As foxy female astronaut Watts straps Rockhound in, he grunts and says,

“Must be a comfort to know that if the space program ever goes under,
you could always get a job at Helga’s House of Pain (!)”

Also among the cast is Oscar-winner Ben Affleck (Best Original Screenplayfor Good Will Hunting), Liv Tyler – daughter of Steven Tyler, leadsinger of Aerosmith who supply the film’s love theme, “I Don’t Wanna Miss AThing” – and someone who has appeared in many of her father’s videos,Peter Stormare as the madman aboard the space station and who partneredup with Steve Buscemi in the Coen Brothers’ classic Fargo and there’salso a brief cameo from E.R.’s Dr. Anspaugh.

The picture is framed at the original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1 and itcouldn’t fail to look any better. Having recently begun renting a widescreenTV I’ve been getting used to watching anamorphic films on DVD which provideextra resolution. However, although there are no laserdiscs in production inthe UK which can make use of this feature, the print still looks gorgeous.It’s a very colourful film and from the meteor-bombed streets of New York,through the destruction of a space station, to the spectacular scenes shoton the surface of the asteroid itself, this reviewer was very impressedindeed.

As for the sound, if it said it was a quiet, plot-driven little film I’d belying. Director Michael Bay‘s last film, The Rock, was an all-outaction adventure, as is anything that producer Jerry Bruckheimer – andhis late partner Don Simpson – has ever put his name too. Explosionsare the order of the day and you will not be disappointed. Saving the worldisn’t easy after it’s been bombed to hell and everything that can go wrong doesgo wrong…and each time something goes wrong it’s puncuated by a loudexplosion or three.

There are only 27 chapters for the film which isn’t really enough for somethinglasting around two-and-a-half hours, but unlike the DVD there is a theatricaltrailer.

Side one ends with Bruce telling Billy Bob that he wants all his men to havetheir last night on earth off, but as the disc ends there’s a “snap” sound.Presumably, whoever did the chaptering didn’t get it quite spot-on. Since thefirst chapter on side two begins with a song, that’s obviously where the snapsound comes from. The platter break at the end of side two is less intrusive.

This disc will have some competition though, from the forthcoming CriterionEdition. This director’s cut features up to 12 minutes extra footage includinga scene between Bruce Willis’ character and his father, as well as two audiocommentary tracks from the director, producer, cast and crew, scenes ofouttakes and a breakdown of the SFX scenes, not to mention the usual trailersand Aerosmith’s music video.

Overall, like 1997’s Con Air which was released on PAL Laserdisc lastyear, Armageddon was my favourite action film of last year and thislaserdisc release looks just as good, even if there’s not much in the wayof extras. Ignore all those reviews of the video which said no attention waspaid to the script – those only come from people who haven’t watched the film.This disc is a must-have.

FILM : *****PICTURE QUALITY: *****SOUND QUALITY: *****EXTRAS: *——————————-OVERALL: ****

Review copyright © Dominic Robinson, 1999.

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