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“Armageddon” {Blu-ray}
Reviewer:
Wayne Klein
Studio: Touchstone
Genre:
Action
Release Date:
4/27/10
Special Features:

Trailers, music video

Review:

I’m a bit perplexed as to who is making the decisions over at Touchstone lately for their Blu-ray catalog releases. First we get “Tombstone” in a so-so transfer with the extras from the “Director’s Cut” but the film only in the theatrical version. Then we get a huge moneymaker back in the day for Touchstone—“Armageddon”—on Blu-ray with no notable special features. It begs the question—what idiot was put in charge of the studio’s catalog titles for Blu-ray and why are they still there? ***

OK now that I’ve gotten that rant out of my system let’s jump to the movie proper; “Armageddon” was a huge hit for Touchstone and one of the first films that showed us how shallow Michael Bay’s talent as a director is; Bay hits all the right notes but can’t create anything of substance. That hasn’t change all you need do is look at “Pearl Harbor” or “Transformers” both technically accomplished, mindless entertainment that have no depth, no soul and play like shrill larger than life video games. Maybe that’s what the world wants now (god I hope not)if so than Bay is the perfect filmmaker for our attention deficit, inpatient and greedy world; it’s all about sensation playing like a theatrical version of the Roman games except no one is harmed in the process. It’s a decadent film that burrows under our skin and tries to turn us into sensation seeking idiots. ***

So why do people like it and why do they keep going to Bay’s films? It’s simple—we are sensation seeking, pleasure driven creatures and it appeals to our base animal instinct. To borrow a phrase from the rock group REM, it’s the end of the world as we know it and we feel fine as long as we see others in worse shape than us. I think Roger Ebert hit it on the head when he described it as a two hour trailer for a movie we’ve truly never seen. ***

Labeling this film “science fiction” is probably generous as well; the film has little to do with the “science” part and plays more as a glorified action/adventure space opera. There’s nothing wrong with that but as a fan of science fiction I was a bit insulted at having this big, monstrous entertaining mess of a movie called science fiction. ***

A big asteroid has a date with Earth and a team is sent up to plant explosives to blow it apart before it hits led by Bruce Willis and his team of can-do astronauts. They run into a number of mind numbing complications that reek of bad day time soap operas before landing on the rock, trying to plant their charges (where things cannot go smoothly because it is a movie)and get the heck off before it blows them to kingdom come as well. ---

Image & Sound:

Unlike “Tombstone” which Touchstone managed to FUBAR, “Armageddon” looks nice in its Blu-ray debut. Detail is quite good throughout and colors solid throughout. The presentation isn’t too dark with the resulting loss of detail nor is it light suffering from the overblown presentation of some DVD’s—it’s kind of like the three bears porridge but that doesn’t mean it’s nutritious either. A new HD master had to be created for this because the original was destroyed in a fire. ***

The lossless soundtrack sounds quite good with a nice, robust 5.1 mix that will shake the pictures off your wall if you turn it up loud enough. Dialogue remains crisp and clear throughout. ---

Special Features:

Sadly this is where Touchstone dropped the ball although it isn’t admittedly the end of the world. The Criterion edition of this (and why Criterion chose this film beyond hoping to move a lot of units is beyond me)featured two excellent commentary tracks one with director Bay. The Criterion edition was filled with extras. This Blu-ray reissue mimics the original DVD release from over a decade ago featuring trailers and the Aerosmith music video as the only extras. It’s underwhelming. ---

Final Words:

If you must have “Armageddon” then this is a fine looking version to pick up and while not having the special features of the Criterion edition isn’t the end of the world, I would have expected better from a Disney which has done a superb job with their kid’s movies so far on Blu-ray.

Disappointing but for fans probably essential.

 

 
 
 
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