Every week, Landon Palmer and Cole Abaius log on to their favorite chat client of 1996 as Dontwannamissathang and AffleckFan23 in order to discuss some topical topic of interest.
This week, the pair tries to envision a movie world where Armageddon was never made. How would people survive that?
As a result, the merits of the film’s acting, philosophy and subtext are brought to light. Comparisons to Ingmar Bergman are made. Lives are changed. Spoilers for The Sixth Sense and Armageddon are revealed. Fortunately, this nightmarish landscape is only imaginary, because Armageddon did get made, and it’s available to watch whenever we feel like it.
Cole: So, the movie Armageddon (as opposed to the eventual event) is an undoubted national treasure. However, I want you to do the unthinkable for a moment. I want you to imagine a world in which Armageddon never got made.
What does that world look like?
Landon: Well, in that world we wouldn’t get Aerosmith’s greatest song. Bruce Willis wouldn’t be able to convincingly play a dead man one year later in The Sixth Sense if he didn’t die in Armageddon. In short, a world without Armageddon is a world I’d prefer to have obliterated by an asteriod the size of Texas.
It’s unimaginable. I don’t like it one bit.
Cole: The music does add just the right touch to the proceedings. But let’s talk about Bruce Willis. The man is a certified badass, but without Armageddon he would have never saved the planet at this sort of level. And, not to mention, selflessness.
Landon: Absolutely. The most selfless character to appear on Hollywood screens. In a world without Armageddon, The Passion of the Christ wouldn’t have seemed so redundant.
Cole: Exactly. In that moment where he stays behind to detonate the unobtanium at the center of the Earth to get it spinning again, it’s unimaginably tense.
Landon: Um, that’s The Core. Armageddon is the one where we manage to feel empathy for Liv Tyler.
Cole: Because she’s a figure of powerlessness. She represents all of us. Even as a brave team confronts a deadly force, we, the average citizen, have our lives in the hands of others. Liv Tyler is the everywoman of the story.
Landon: But if Bruce Willis is the Christ figure, then is she a reverse-Madonna?
Cole: She’s the double-reverse-Madonna because she’s the daughter and the sex symbol. Her performance should be celebrated for its nuance and verisimilitude. I submit to you that in the history of film, no actress has nailed down exactly how a normal woman would react to having an animal-shaped snack food anthropomorphically “walking” toward her vagina.
Landon: You clearly haven’t seen enough of Lars von Trier’s work
Cole: I’ve seen eveyrthing but his home videos if that’s what you mean.
Landon: But I agree, she owns it.
She goes through one of the most gut-wrenching moments in the cinematic history of heroines watching her father die. I mean, at least Sophie HAD a choice!
Cole: Truer words…And speaking of acting, they were smart to go for the ensemble because Morgan Freeman adds a ton of gravitas to what otherwise might have been solid B-fare.
Landon: Erm…yeah, that’s Deep Impact. That’s the movie where Robert Duvall is in the Bruce Willis role. Armageddon is the one with the white president whose name, I think, is only “Mr. President.”
Cole: But still. Morgan Freeman is awesome.
I want to throw out that in a world without Armageddon, Bay probably wouldn’t have gotten to make Pearl Harbor. The success of one paved the way for the other.
Landon: He would have gone straight to Bad Boys 2 and saved us all a lot of time.
Cole: So, I hate to say it, but there’s at least one negative thing that came from Armageddon. But we can’t blame the movie itself!
Landon: Charleton Heston, aka Armageddon‘s voice of God, should have seen it coming.
Landon: But man, talk about a role somebody was always meant to play.
Cole: Definitely. And people don’t give him enough credit for it.
On the positive side of things, a world without Armageddon would also mean a movie-going populace that doesn’t know how truly awesome and epic movies can be.
Bergman and Bay Make a Connection
Landon: Speaking of epic, my favorite performance is Michael Clark Duncan’s – who would never have gone onto the boundary-breaking racially progressive role in The Green Mile if it weren’t for this. You remember the part during training where he starts crying? So funny!
Because he’s big!
Cole: Because he’s big!
Landon: Yeah! Because he’s big!
Cole: The truth is that everyone does a great job. And without this movie, we’d never have a chance to see Willis with Buscemi with Duncan with Affleck.
Landon: Just like if there were no Mrs. Doubtfire we wouldn’t know how funny a man in drag would be.
Cole: That’s a bingo. Armageddon is the Mrs. Doubtfire of blowing things up.
But I want to ask this. Without Armageddon, would you be able to truly ask yourself what you would do in such a dire situation? It’s an ostensibly deep movie. A deep, impactful film.
Landon: It’s basically an instruction manual. Now we all know why we really have deep water oil rigs.
Cole: Never before had a movie really posed the question of mortality so directly. I kept seeing flashes of Max Von Sydow playing chess with Death as Harry and his team boldly took the asteroid face on.
Landon: Yeah, there are a lot of Bergman connections. For instance, the Bergman classic Persona and Bay’s classic Armageddon ending (pictured above).
…and people wonder why it’s in the Criterion Collection.
Cole: But seriously. You think you understand the world around you and then bam. A dormant volcano erupts and threatens the entire city. Plus, I can’t believe they would throw aliens to an already stuffed plot full of dangers to the earth.
Landon: Um…that’s Volcano…or Dante’s Peak…followed by Independence Day.
Cole: But I think my point still stands.
Landon: The last one also has a white president who makes a speech about being a member of humanity, so it makes sense that they’d be confused. But it’s true. We aren’t just Americans. We’re all “members of humanity.” I never thought about it that way before 1998.
Cole: Because Armageddon is all of those movies rolled into one, lit on fire, and then shot out of a cannon of philosophy and humanism.
It’s the culmination of the Disaster Film and the culmination of film itself. Asking the questions no other film has the cojones to ask and then blowing up a nuke and destroying Paris.
Landon: And it’s about time we started getting our philosophy in cannon form. Stupid Thomas Paine with his “books.”
In fact, the fact that movies have been made since Armageddon is simply superfluous.
Landon: I just have one final question, Cole…
Cole: What’s that?
Landon: Have you ever actually seen Armageddon?
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