April Fools 2011

What is Movie News After Dark? Most of the time it’s a nightly dose of movie news from around the world. Sometimes it feels like a sentient being hell-bent on enslaving humanity. Tonight it’s taking the night off from both quests to celebrate a most favorite holiday in the land of the Reject, April Fools’ Day. There were a great many pranks on the web this year, and we’d like to point out our favorites, movie-related or otherwise. Then we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled shenanigans Sunday night. We begin tonight with a story from our own home town, Austin, TX, featuring a good friend of the site, critic Scott Weinberg. As you can see in the image above, The Austin Chronicle‘s front page story (and most of the article, for that matter) was about “The Dome,” a city planning solution to completely contain the riff-raff during SXSW. Excellent.

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Movies We Love

“It’s the size of Texas, Mr. President.” Does it get any better than that? Of course it doesn’t. Armageddon is without doubt one of the finest motion pictures ever created by humans. If that snippet of dialogue made audible by Mr. Billy Bob Thornton himself didn’t convince you, maybe this will. “You think we’ll get hazard pay for this?” I’m going to pretend you’ve been living under a rock since 1998 and summarize one of the greatest summer blockbuster films ever made for you. So Billy Bob Thorton is sort of the head honcho of NASA and one day he’s supervising a standard in-space satellite repair when all of a sudden a meteor shower rips his crew to pieces. We then cut to New York City, which seems to always be the city that gets destroyed in big budget disaster movies, and sure enough the meteors tear through the city demolishing Grand Central Station, decapitating the Chrysler Building [insert Unstoppable joke here] and finally, in a moment fraught with unintended significance, the camera slowly zooms out to show the twin towers of the World Trade Center on fire. Then we’re treated to quickly cut scenes of people yelling and running through hallways and trying to figure out why Keith David keeps calling. Essentially, a giant asteroid is on a collision course with Earth and no matter where it hits, it will wipe out all life as we know it. Jason Isaacs convinces the President that the best plan is to […]

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Criterion Files

Why?

In a sea of some of the most important pictures the world has known to date – why? In a collection spanning nearly one-hundred years of film history and inclusive of a large portion of the greatest filmmakers we’ve ever known…why? With a library containing movies which focus heavily on visual artistry and emotional complexities and probably have a combined budget *possibly* equal to that of this film…why? With another picture released the same year about pretty much the same thing made by a studio from the same country garnering stronger critical reception and sporting an [in]arguably more plausible solution and execution to the prevention of the end of the world via meteors the size of really, really big things…WHY? Why is this mammoth-sized summer blockbuster which is a masterpiece of the color orange alongside some of the most revered pictures of the last (nearly) 100 years?

The answer is simple, concrete, and indisputable:

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Junkfood Cinema

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; we pity all the fools, not just those named April. Normally, this is the weekly internet column wherein I lambaste a terrible movie for which, despite its innumerable flaws, I harbor an unnatural love. In other words, plenty of snark peppered with honest admiration that only further calls into question my already dubious taste. Right about the time your brain is massaged into a warm, gelatinous goo, I supply a nasty/delicious snack food item tied into the film to similarly soften your six pack. But this week is different. I have been asked, and have subsequently agreed but only under protest, to cover a film far too excellent to warrant purchase on this awful little column. A film so cerebral, so beautiful, so auteur that it is an insult to film as an art form to allow it to suffer my irreverent, unworthy treatment. I hate that this movie will now be counted among the rank and file of cinematic garbage to which my proclivities typically run. That being said, I never back down from a challenge and, though it may suck some of the life from me, I now present…Armageddon.

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A few bits of news have come down the pipe so close together that it is almost impossible they aren’t related. Ever since Michael Bay’s blockbuster hit Armageddon came out in 1998, film fans all over the planet have been clamoring for further adventures from Ben Affleck and company. Well, it’s now looking like things are coming together in a way that will allow everyone to get their wish. After a very public break, Aerosmith front man and current judge on TV’s American Idol Steven Tyler has confirmed via his Twitter account that the band is going to head back into the studio together. Tyler stated, “AEROFREAKSREJOICE, Joe & I sent smoke signals… shot the shit & chewed the fat for the last year… but just smoked the peace pipe for an hour today and are on our way to rock’in your fkin worlds this summer by locking our selves [sic] away somewhere w/ guitars and drums.” Aerosmith has had several hits going all the way back to the 60s, but they are, of course, best known for their contribution to the Armageddon soundtrack, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” Almost concurrent to this announcement, Tyler’s daughter Liv talked to FOX about she and her father trying to make some music together. “We sing all the time together. We always talk about doing something together. Sometimes when he is in the studio he’ll say ‘come down and sing backup or sing with me on this song.’ But I’m usually […]

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With just how astounding Armageddon is, it’s no wonder that the world is clamoring for a sequel. Wishful thinking propels us to think that Jerry Bruckheimer and Touchstone (a company which still exists) are champing at the bit to make a deal with Michael Bay as soon as he’s off of his giant damned robots kick. Sadly, the reality is much bleaker than that, and even if the stars align the right way for a sequel to get made, an asteroid will undoubtedly crash right through them and create a global extinction event that swallows Armageddon 2 whole. For one, even though Bay is moving on from Transformers once Dark of the Moon hits theaters later this year, he’s also contractually tied to about a dozen other projects. They range from Bad Boys 3 – which might arouse hope of another 90s sequel -  to novel adaptation Gideon’s Sword. But what’s really keeping his attention? His Platinum Dunes duties and other producing work. Plainly put, if the sequel to Armageddon that every single human being wants to happen happens, Bay won’t be the helmer (and what kind of sequel would that be? You think Peter Berg can pull that off?). “But Damon Lindelof wrote that stellar script!” you say. It’s true. Sadly, it sits languishing unmade, just like 99% of all written scripts and 98% of all optioned scripts. Even with the overwhelming, Texas-sized financial incentive (matched with the studio model of throwing $200 million at anything with even mild […]

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Culture Warrior

A little more than 100 years ago, cinema was a deceivingly simple spectacle. Late 19th-century vaudeville audiences would attend variety shows and be introduced to this new technological apparatus that could reproduce moving images of anything, from people arriving at a train station to a prolonged kiss. Cinema could even realize the potential of imagination through practical special effects. So much potential. So much promise. Audiences and filmmakers wondered and debated throughout the next few decades not only what this device was, but what cinema should be or could become. Essays were written, manifestos were signed, and camps all around the world situated themselves within particular “isms” and would fight for the notion that the ideal potential achievement of cinema would be this or that. They imagined futures in which pure expression through the 7th art – that medium that could contain all collective art forms, reproduce and manipulate reality, manifest fantasy, and move masses of captivated audiences simultaneously in a way no communicative form before or since has been able to do – could actually take place, thus allowing us to finally understand what cinema really is. Then came Armageddon. And all these questions were finally answered.

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Every day, come rain or shine or internet tubes breaking, Film School Rejects showcases a trailer from the past. “I’m marrying you.” “You bet you are!” Is there a more gut-punching emotional moment in a trailer in the history of ever? There is not. Ben Affleck stars alongside Bruce Willis in this explosive action flick directed by Michael Bay. You just don’t see much of this movie anymore, but it definitely deserves the attention. You won’t want to close your eyes or miss a thing while watching this trailer. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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Boiling Point

Hollywood has on several occasions done things in pairs. Skyline and Battle: LA. Volcano and Dante’s Peak. Debbie Does Dallas and Donnie Does Denver. Every time this happens we ask ourselves two questions: first, why? Second, which one was better? In the grand history of competing, similarly plotted movies, no two films have ever inspired more conversation and debate than Deep Impact and Armageddon. This is ridiculous. Not because it’s a waste of time to debate movies like this, but because there is no debate. Armageddon makes Deep Impact look a pair of monkeys painted the world’s most boring book in baby shit and then populated it with a bunch of actors you remembered from other movies. Armageddon is the vastly superior film and anyone who doesn’t recognize that sends me past my boiling point.

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Griffith. Ford. Welles. Kubrick. Scorsese. Allen. Spielberg. No one would argue that these men are a few of the great visionaries who worked their magic on the U.S. cinematic landscape. But after 1998, all of their previous work just seemed…petty. That’s because 1998 was the year Armageddon showed up on our radar screens, giving us little time to prepare our viewing strategies before unleashing a force of hyperkentic visuals that splattered our brains on the back of theater seats. This wasn’t just a movie about a meteor coming to destroy Earth, it was the meteor, and in the wake of its war path, movies were never the same again. What exactly did Michael Bay do that changed cinema forever? The list is endless, but here are nine bold moves the renegade auteur took to ensure his place in Hollywood history:

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Late last night DC Metro Area resident Jonathan Turk purchased a copy of the double disc Criterion Collection DVD release of Armageddon. The purchase was made at an Alexandria, VA Wal-mart, and came from what Turk described as the store’s “five dollar bin,” but what must have been where they keep movies that are selling too fast to keep on the shelves. I imagine an entire bin of movies allows staff members a break when it comes to restocking red-hot titles. When asked what spurned his late night purchase, Turk said, “I was driving back into town and I remembered that I didn’t have cable hooked up at my new place yet, so I stopped off to find a movie to watch.” When asked what drew him to Armageddon, Turk replied, “It was the cheapest. And I remember it being pretty good, right? That’s not the one with Morgan Freeman, is it?” Clearly, Armageddonmania is still running wild on the East Coast. With yet another purchase of Armageddon on DVD, one has to wonder where this puts the film when it comes to total worldwide gross. According to Box Office Mojo, Armageddon’s worldwide gross in ticket sales comes to $553,709,788. That comes from totaling its domestic gross of $201,578,182 and it’s overseas take of $352,131,606. That puts it at #66 in the all-time list, just behind Tangled, which has brought in roughly 569.7 million dollars. When you add in home video sales, it becomes more difficult to see where it […]

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Drinking Games

Ever wake up in the morning with your head pounding? Chances are, that happened after trying one of our many drinking games. It also might have happened after spending a night watching films by Michael Bay. If your head is really, really pounding, you might have played a drinking game while watching the balls-to-the-wall explosive Michael Bay extravaganza known as Armageddon. Or, it could be the real Armageddon happening. Either way, it’s best enjoyed with a drink in hand. Awesome!

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Whether you’re trying to avoid the releases this week or augment them with even more movies, Your Alternate Box Office offers some options for movies that would play perfectly alongside of (or instead of) the stuff studios are shoving into the megaplex this weekend. This week features a man who’s only got 8 minutes to save the world, a house that’s not haunted, a superhero who isn’t a superhero, and an Easter bunny who’s not the Easter bunny.

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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.

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In a recent press release, NASA has announced that it plans to land astronauts on an asteroid by 2025. This new development in space exploration must have been inspired, at least in part, by the hit 1998 Michael Bay film Armageddon, wherein a group of ultra-skilled oil drillers are sent to an asteroid headed for Earth with the mission of embedding an atomic weapon deep beneath its surface in order to blow it off of its course. What else could explain the fact that astronauts who’ve never quit are lining up right and left to be chosen for the expedition? Dr. Paul Abell, NASA’s lead scientist for planetary small bodies, addressed the issue, saying, “The Armageddon film with Bruce Willis was a very fun movie, but not exactly the most scientifically accurate. This is going to be an exciting endeavor, but not quite that dramatic. It’s going to happen a little bit more slowly.” This probably went without saying, as few things in human history have been as dramatic and harrowing as Bay’s masterpiece. Not to mention that, in a real world situation, I imagine it would be hard to find a rough neck crew of oil drillers quite as skilled as the ones that worked for Willis’s Harry Stamper. His claim that Armageddon wasn’t the most scientifically accurate film could be called into question, but probably he just meant it in the literal sense that The Rock’s portrayal of chemical weaponry is widely known as being the most painstakingly researched […]

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When the rare opportunity to read a truly talented writer’s take on a big budget phenomenon presents itself, you can’t turn it down. When that project is a sequel to Armageddon – arguably the reason why movies were invented – and the writer is Damon Lindelof, you should feel confident doing just about anything to get it. Especially if “just about anything” involves meeting a shadowy figure in the basement of the Umami Burger on Hollywood. It was on that dusky night almost a year ago that a be-cloaked voice handed me the script for Armageddoner and then told me in great detail what the Smoke Monster was. Then, only a month later, Lindelof posted the script himself on the internet for all to see. Naturally, I was hesitant to write anything about it until now. I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s something that makes writing about this particular script now that just feels right. The question isn’t whether it’s good or not. The question is whether it’s the best script or merely the greatest. Here, at least, is what I thought:

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