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At the time of its release, ARMAGEDDON ($30) was a movie that took a drubbing from critics. Sure, no one will ever confuse ARMAGEDDON with great cinema, but this movie was never intended to be anything other than mindless entertainment. ARMAGEDDON delivers everything one expects from a formulaic summer popcorn movie- a big star, big screen action, big laughs, a big loud soundtrack and even bigger special effects. Perhaps the critics were expecting ARMAGEDDON to be something more than a summer popcorn movie. Personally, I like the fact that ARMAGEDDON is best enjoyed in a hot buttery popcorn induced stupor that allows one to switch off their brains, and then loose themselves in this big budget special effects extravaganza.

Like a master juggler, director Michael Bay manages to keep all the balls in the air, as he effortlessly guides his actors through the film’s most unbelievable moments, while also perfectly combining top-notch special effects with a whole lot of action, humor, suspense, gung-ho patriotism and just a touch of sentimentality. Sure, the plot of ARMAGEDDON has holes in logic that one could fly an asteroid the size of Texas through, but as I stated previously, this movie isn’t intended to be anything more than a whole lot of mindless fun.

As the title implies, the plot of ARMAGEDDON concerns the end of the world. Of course, watching the end of the world would be a complete downer for an audience, which is why ARMAGEDDON offers a story about a group of unlikely heroes, who are dispatched to stop the cataclysm. ARMAGEDDON opens with a meteor shower that devastates the island of Manhattan. However, the shower turns out to be a precursor to the main event. In eighteen days time, an asteroid the size of Texas will strike the Earth. The force of the impact will be far worse than that of the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs- not even bacteria will survive this planet killer. With few options, NASA devises a plan that involves two experimental space shuttles that will rendezvous with the killer asteroid, and deliver a nuclear weapon that will break it apart in space. Unfortunately, a surface explosion will not do the job; to achieve the desired result will require blowing the asteroid apart from the inside. And the only way to accomplish this monumental task is to drill a hole eight hundred feet down into a fault line within the asteroid, then plant the nuclear device that will fracture the giant space rock and divert the pieces away from the planet.

Since only the best will do, NASA enlists an "expert" to drill though the surface of the asteroid and deploy the nuclear device. Bruce Willis stars as Harry S. Stamper, the "expert" selected by NASA. No one knows the fine art of drilling holes like Harry and his men; they have drilled oil on every type of terrain and have always met with success… even under the most adverse conditions. However, despite their expertise in drilling, no one will accuse Harry and his team of misfits of having "The Right Stuff" to become astronauts. Undeterred, NASA places Harry and his men into accelerated astronaut training, preparing them for the rigors of space flight and the job of drilling through the surface of the asteroid. In addition to Bruce Willis, the cast of ARMAGEDDON also features Billy Bob Thornton, Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, Will Patton, Steve Buscemi, William Fichtner, Owen Wilson, Michael Clarke Duncan, Peter Stormare, Ken Hudson Campbell, Jessica Steen, Keith David, Chris Ellis, Jason Isaacs, John Mahon, Grace Zabriskie, Eddie Griffin, Udo Kier and Judith Hoag.

Touchstone Home Entertainment has made ARMAGEDDON available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. I can honestly say that this is the absolute best ARMAGEDDON has ever looked in the home venue, with the film boasting a rather impressive 1080p presentation. Other than occasional shots that appear mildly soft, ARMAGEDDON delivers a very crisp and highly defined image in HD. Dimensionality is also quite good, as is the levels of fine detail and texturing. Close-ups really tend to pop, as do the majority of the medium and long shots. Colors appear rich and are fully saturated, while the flesh tones are wonderfully appealing. Blacks are inky, while the whites are clean and crisp. Contrast and shadow detail are pretty terrific. The elements from which ARMAGEDDON has been mastered are virtually perfect. There is some grain in the image, which keeps the presentation very film like.

ARMAGEDDON is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. To say that this soundtrack is an absolute blast would be an understatement. This is the kind of soundtrack that beats the listener into submission, and then just keeps pounding away at them during every explosive, action packed moment. During the big splashy effects sequences, sounds volley from every direction and explode all around the viewer. If the track has any weaknesses, I would say it is just a wee bit more front heavy than newer soundtracks. Newer tracks are a bit more balanced and transparent, when it comes to making use of the surround channels, so when one consider that ARMAGEDDON was made a dozen or so years ago, this track just becomes an example of continuing evolution of sound design. Thanks to the lossless encode, fidelity is excellent. Both the music and effects sound better here than they ever did on DVD. The bass channel is truly deep, percussive and provides all the necessary rumble, ground shaking and explosive impact that the film requires. Dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. The Aerosmith Music Video for I Don't Want To Miss A Thing, as well as the Theatrical Teaser and the Theatrical Trailer constitute all that is included with the film.

As I stated above, ARMAGEDDON is best enjoyed in a hot buttery popcorn induced stupor that allows one to switch off their brains, and then loose themselves in this big budget special effects extravaganza. The Blu-ray looks and sounds quite impressive and will certainly please fans. Recommended to all those who crave mindless fun.


Armageddon [Blu-ray] (1998)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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