While waiting for Susan to get ready for dinner, I saw part of the 1997 Michael Bay popcorn hit Armageddon, where a plucky team of drillers wind up in space to poke a hole in an asteroid. The following week, under similar circumstances, I watched the back half of the film. I am qualified to say that the film has more plot problems than any other movie I have ever seen.
Here they are in no particular order:
- Bruce Willis attempts to murder Ben Affleck on an oil rig by indiscriminately firing a shotgun into the oil-pumping superstructure. In the film's defense, this happened before Deepwater Horizon.
- A significant number of the drillers serve no purpose other than to stand around in the background. A couple of them don't even have lines, I think. And there are two fat guys - why would NASA pay for all the extra liquid hydrogen it takes to blast their FUPAs into space?
- Copious amounts of rain fall on the asteroid. Also, after one of the shuttles crashes (SPOILER, oops) there is a massive fire. There's apparently oxygen on the asteroid.
- Everyone is incredibly sweaty (possibly because of space's famously high humidity). Ain't they got no air conditioning?
- The physics in the scene where the lunar lander jeep thingy jumps the asteroid canyon are HIGHLY suspect.
- All the usual sci-fi screw-ups. We have two completely secret trillion-dollar spacecraft that no one in the defense budget noticed. Sounds carries in space, etc.
- The president abandons the (already incredibly dumb) plan AFTER the majority of the things that were unlikely to go right already fell their way. I mean, their idiot plan gets some dudes on the asteroid and the guy's all like, "fuck it, there's a little drilling snag - time to hit the panic button."
- The Russian space station is manned by exactly one low-functioning alcoholic who apparently doesn't know his ass from his elbow. I estimate he causes $100 billion in damage over the course of the film.
- The asteroid is large enough to wipe out earth. However, by detonating it a mere four hours before it impacts earth is enough to send it wide. Also - and I know it's a downer to see a 'real' plot hole in a list like this - passing the moon begins to spin the asteroid on its third axis. This would kill the plan, which was to blow the rock in half along the axis of travel. And while we're on the serious stuff:
- Turning one large falling object into many large falling objects is never considered.
- In one sequence, the leader of the NASA mission pulls a gun on Bruce Willis, at which point BW's sidekick exclaims, "Oh man, what are you doing with a gun in space?" This is a reasonable question, but for the following incidents: Steve Buscemi shoots up the drill site with a remote controlled machine gun which has inexplicably been set up. The lunar rovers have yet another gatling gun (used to shoot their way out of the crashed spacecraft). In short, NASA had more guns on this mission than nuclear weapons.
OK, this is a reasonable question on the surface. But let's backtrack a moment. The drilling robot vehicles are armed with gatling guns for no apparent reason. There's also a remote-controlled machine gun that's been set up for no apparent reason next to the drilling site (later, it will be wildly fired by someone with "space dementia" - oops, forgot that one - to create another dramatic crisis. Now that I think about it, Steve Buscemi's character served no purpose other than to fuck things up). Anyway, the spaceships are packing multiple nukes and I think I saw some missiles hanging off the wings as well. This is the most heavily armed mission in the history of mankind. So forgive me if the fact that this one guy is surprised that some other guy's got a handgun and is apparently prepared to fire it in a pressurized environment is not terribly realistic. Because at this exact moment, there are more people who have guns in space than those who don't.
Despite all this, the film is actually quite watchable. This is likely why is beat the crap out of Deep Impact, a somewhat more plausible asteroid-coming-for-earth film that came out at virtually the same time. Frankly, I could go for a sequel from Bay. It would at least be better than Transformers 6: Toasters of Tomorrow.
Noah's Inner Monologue
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