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May 27, 2008

Recycling Rocks: In the battle between testosterone and estrogen, we all lose

(Editor's note: Since I haven't seen a movie in what seems like two months, I present you with one of my favorite posts, an in-depth, serious look - ok, not really - at two silly movies. Enjoy. As for me, the plan is to see Indy IV tonight. Expect tears of disappointment later this week.)

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:

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.

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.

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...

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

Daniel said...

Great post, especially the category comparison. For me, it all comes down to one line, perfectly delivered by Owen Wilson:"Okay, so the scariest environment imaginable. Thanks. That's all you gotta say, scariest environment imaginable."

(Uggh, finding that I also saw this exchange:
A.J.: You know what I was thinkin'?
Grace Stamper: What?
A.J.: I-I really don't think that the animal cracker qualifies as a cracker.
Grace Stamper: Why?
A.J.: Well cause it's sweet, which to me suggests cookie, and, you know, I mean putting cheese on something is sort of the defining characteristic of what makes a cracker a cracker. I don't know why I thought of that, I just...
Grace Stamper: Baby, you have such sweet pillow talk.")

Rachel said...

Abfab post, Fletch. I only saw Armageddon, but could've skipped it and been a happier person for it.

PIPER said...

How is it that two separate scripts could be written at the same time which both delve into the paranoia that a meteor could hit and destroy us all.

What's that all about?

I did enjoy Deep Impact and loved the historical accuracy of the ending where the president retreats to the Limestone Caves in Missouri. That shit is real and those things are big. I've played paintball in those things and they are scary. And stinky.

Armaggedon made me wonder how one could assemble such a bunch of fuck-ups. Seriously, you have to look pretty hard for that. And there's always Bay, who I really, really like for his contributions to our culture.