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May 25, 2007

In the battle between testosterone and estrogen, we all lose

I'd like to take you back in time to a simpler era. A time when the thought of the impending new millennium caused mass hysteria and forced many a cubicle worker to re-code bank software from 2-character years to 4-character years. A time when America had a President that could pronounce the word "nuclear" correctly. A time when Ben Affleck was considered a matinee idol - an A-lister, if you will.

The time was 1998 - specifically summer of that year. The first strike was made by estrogen. On May 8th, Deep Impact was released into theaters. The plot? A comet is headed for earth and will be here in a matter of weeks. How will the people of earth prepare? Will Tea Leoni rise to the position of network anchor? Will a senior citizen be able to cope in space? Will anyone care? These questions and many more were answered.

What was not answered - at least, not at its time of release, was whether or not Deep Impact would be a bigger, better film than the suspiciously similar-plotted Armageddon, directed by Bad Boys helmer Michael Bay, and exec produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, the master of subtlety.

Armageddon (stay with me) follows a group of kickass drillers who must rocket themselves into space to break up an asteroid (not a comet, mind you) that is headed straight for earth.


So which was the bigger film? Though not a landslide, the victory belonged to Bay and company, with Armageddon grossing just over $200 million, while Impact managed just $140 million.

But the battle for the title of "the better film" could not be decided by box office alone. Nor has IMDb solved the debate, as each film rates a stellar 5.8/10. Let's look at some other categories:

Cast

Though Armageddon features really only one woman in its cast (the unbearably annoying Liv Tyler), it's really not a close race. Impact's big names are Robert Duvall and Morgan Freeman, but there's a significant drop off after that, with Jon Favreau, Elijah Wood and Tea Leoni being the next biggest names (and don't forget Helen Hunt, Jr. - er, Leelee Sobieski). Armageddon, meanwhile, features Bruce Willis, Owen Wilson, Billy Bob Thornton, Steve Buscemi, Benaflek, William Fichtner and Peter Stormare. On second thought, it's closer than I imagined, but Willis and Co. are certainly the more entertaining bunch.

Cheese Factor

Deep Impact brings us heavy-handed sentimentality and a news anchor plot we could care less about. It also features a character named Biederman, which I find funny all by itself. Armageddon features animal crackers on a stomach. 'Nuff said.

Special Effects

Armageddon starts off with a bang, destroying much of Paris in the opening scenes. The bulk of the remaining effects take place of a crappy sound stage (sorry..."ASTEROID") and consist of scared drillers driving golf carts up and down hills. Yawn.

Impact may be talky, but the finale delivers. As the small meteor hits earth (smack dab into the Atlantic), a tidal wave engulfs New York, the Eastern seaboard is flooded, and Ron Eldard does his worst acting job playing a blind astronaut. Ok, so that's not an effect, but it had to be mentioned.

Directors

In one corner, we have the root of all evil in this world - Michael Bay, director of such Oscar-nominated films as The Rock, Pearl Harbor, and The Island. In the other corner, Mimi Leder, who (prior to Impact) directed Clooney and Kidman in the never-seen-by-anyone The Peacemaker and who in 2000 directed Pay It Forward, also known as "that terrible movie with the kid from The Sixth Sense and Kevin Spacey with a burned face."

It pains me to give the victory to Bay.

Soundtrack

Deep Impact contributed nothing to the world in terms of music. Armageddon gave us Aerosmith singing "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing."

Guess who wins this contest?

The Verdict

Well, I told you this right in the title of this post. No one wins, because we all lose. If you want to watch something overtly masculine (coughovercompensatingcough) and/or laughably bad (not that the two are necessarily intertwined), then Armageddon is most certainly the film for you. On the other hand, if you want some story and sentiment with your destruction, it's Impact all the way.

And if you're NFL Adam, you want Independence Day. Why, I have no idea...


7 people have chosen wisely: on "In the battle between testosterone and estrogen, we all lose"

bee-ing a pest said...

Next up ... the political repercussions surrounding The Great Muppet Caper. :)

Fletch said...

That's gold!

Maybe the impact of "Fletch" on drug trafficking, though...

NFL Adam said...

Well done here. Although Deep Impact had a time frame of a couple of years, hence the caves dug out of the limestone in Kansas.

What's interesting to note here, is that the World Trade Center withstands the crash of the waves in Deep Impact.

And as you noted, the Bruce Willis vehicle destorys Paris, so you have to give them that.

McLean Stevenson said...

Jon Favreau dies in Deep Impact.
Ben Affleck lives in Armageddon.

Case closed.

Fletch said...

Jon Favreau dies in Deep Impact.
Ben Affleck lives in Armageddon.

Case closed.


Good point. Then again - Elijah Wood lives in Deep Impact, whereas Bruce Willis dies in Armageddon.

Case reopened?

mj said...

i hate to be "that guy," but doesn't armageddon's opening sequence destroy new york, not paris?

Fletch said...

Some "minor" asteroids hit New York, including the WTC (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NbRbKq_Nog), but the big daddy hits Paris (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7vQNwjmyJs).