SPACE DEMENTIA!July 2, 1998
Movie Review: Armageddon
Every once in a while, a movie comes along that's so awesomely bad that you can only sit there slack-jawed, wondering what on Earth they were thinking. And then the credits roll, and to your amazement there are people in the audience *applauding* this monstrous pile of excrement. That's when you know... you've got Space Dementia!
Now listen up Hollywood. I know you mean well, but here's some friendly advice on what NOT to do when you set out to make a summer blockbuster about a ragtag band of oil drillers enlisted by NASA to drill a hole in a giant asteroid so a bomb can be planted to blow it up before it wipes out all life on the planet.
(1) When there are only 18 days left to save the planet, don't waste 18 hours of that time flying a guy to Houston from the South China Sea just to ask him if he'll help or not.
(2) It is not possible for someone to be fired on one day, and within two days buy their own drilling business, put up a billboard identifying it as theirs, AND accumulate many YEARS worth of grime on that billboard.
(3) Meteors are NOT spiky. Many photographs have been taken of them. In every case, they look like misshapen grey potatoes.
(4) If you absolutely insist on spinning the Mir space station to generate centrifugal force, fine. Artistic license and all that (or did you simply not have the budget to do decent zero-g effects?). But if you're going to spin the Mir, here are a couple of clues. One, pay attention to which direction the "artificial gravity" ought to be pointing. It's going to be different in different parts of the station. Two, dock the two space shuttles FIRST. It's hard enough to dock in space without having to fly in a circle chasing the damn docking ports.
(5) Icicles do not form in zero-gravity. Think about it.
(6) A group of meteors that are moving together in a group MUST all be going at almost precisely the same speed and trajectory. Otherwise, they would have wandered far away from each other long ago. So when you approach a great big asteroid in the middle of a swarm of smaller ones, the smaller ones can ONLY move toward your spaceship at EXACTLY the speed YOU choose to approach the big one. If you don't want to slam into the smaller asteroids at high speed, SLOW DOWN!
(7) When you tell us that the killer asteroid is as big as Texas, DON'T expect us to believe that planting ONE nuclear bomb 800 feet deep is exactly what you need to do to shatter the whole thing. Have any of you ever BEEN to Texas? It's pretty big. More than 1600 feet across, that's for sure.
(8) If you insist on mounting huge gattling guns on the asteroid rovers, at LEAST have somebody at NASA come up with a plausible reason to expect the astronauts to encounter hostile asteroid creatures. If you absolutely have to to give them giant gattling guns, DON'T wait for the shuttle pilot to draw a pistol before somebody says, "What are you doing with a gun in space?"
(9) If the government sends a radio signal to start the countdown of a nuclear weapon, *cutting off their radio communications will not freeze the countdown once it has begun*. It would only prevent them from sending *another* signal to make the countdown STOP.
(10) Also, if they have to trigger the bomb manually, what exactly is the purpose of having a little pistol-grip attachment with about 20 feet of telephone cord attaching it to the bomb? Is that so the guy who sets it off can duck behind a desk?
(11) I can only think of one way you could've made the line "He's got SPACE DEMENTIA!" any sillier. And I'm not going to tell you what it is.
(12) When the hole is 795 out of the required 800 feet deep, and the drilling is going slow, and they have only a few minutes to set the bomb and get out, THAT'S GOOD ENOUGH. What, those extra 5 feet are going to make a difference???
(13) When you spend the entire film showing us what a screwup the young romantic lead is, DON'T make his boss put the fate of the Earth in that screwup's hands. Screwups do not miraculously become competent just because their boss suddenly decides to start appreciating them. Sure, everybody deserves a second (or in this case, third or fourth) chance - but not when 6 BILLION LIVES are at stake.
In case you're wondering, this list only barely scratches the surface of what's wrong with Armageddon.
On The Plus Side
(1) They blowed up a lot of stuff real good.
(2) Steve Buscemi was excellent. If it was up to me, I'd give him an Oscar and throw everyone else involved in making this moronic piece of trash into prison. Okay not really, but I'd be mighty tempted.