Armageddon Turns 25: Why I Love This Hated Movie

The movie is an assault on the eyes, the ears, the brain, common sense and the human desire to be entertained.

Roger Ebert, 1998

Oh, how people hate this Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay turn at an asteroid disaster movie. It’s not just fans and critics who hate Armageddon; Bruce Willis hates it. Or at least he has harsh criticisms of it. Ben Affleck’s commentary on this movie is apparently legendary and it is not flattering.

But I love it. Passionately. No apology at all. No shame. Armageddon is one of the most rewatchable movies of all time to me. Here are several reasons why:

The Characters From Top To Bottom Are Exploding With Personality

I adore essentially every character in this movie They are loveable and funny and the kind of people I’d love to hang out with. Every main cast performance is earnest and memorable. Harry, Rockhound, Bear, Lev, Oscar, Chick, Max, A.J., Truman, Grace, et al. They all bring it in this movie. Even Keith David in a more villain role is dynamite. The personality in Armageddon is bigger than the asteroid.

This is why having roughnecks become astronauts instead of astronauts learning to drill was the right call for the plot. Willis, Buscemi, Michael Clarke Duncan, Owen Wilson, et al. were much more suited as uncouth blue-collar oil drillers. Though I confess Peter Stormare was also amusing as their Russian space cowboy counterpart.

Deep Impact was a fine movie, but this is what separates the two, which definitely were released in competition with each other. I didn’t care for the characters in that movie as much as Armageddon. These characters were full of life.

The Humor Is Beautifully, Appropriately Irreverent

“I just want to have a little fun before I die.” “Components. American components, Russian components…ALL MADE IN TAWAIIN!” “Grace? I thought you said ‘Bear’!” “Yo, Harry. Did NASA find oil on Uranus?” “Man, what are you doing with a gun in space?” EVERYTHING the drillers ask for in exchange for going on the mission.

All LOL funny. Even in 2023.

The Soundtrack Is Timeless and Perfectly Complimentary

The original score just screams ‘heroic epic space disaster movie’. Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” is fire. Not to mention a superb use of “Sweet Emotion”.

That Launch Scene

This is a phenomenal 7 minutes of cinema. The president’s speech (“Through all the chaos that is our history, though all of the wrongs and the discord, through all of the pain and suffering, through all of our times, there is one thing that has nourished our souls. And elevated our species above its origins. And that is our courage.“). That original score playing behind it. Chick’s son learning who “that salesman on TV” was. Rock pontificating about the contents of the X-71. Oscar pontificating about space vs. outer space. And the NASA pilot appreciating the ride.

All gold.

The Climax

Harry staying behind was just the beginning of a series of overwhelming, poignant, classic moments. I love it when Bear says “Harry, you the man.” I love the moment where it shows the 7 survivors walking down the runway after deboarding the shuttle—it’s a very subtle but powerful thing how the music backs off right there, in contrast to the 14 original astronauts and drillers walking to the launch when the music apexes during the president’s speech. These are fantastic editing decisions.

I love it when A.J. gives Truman the patch, at Harry’s direction. I love it when Molly Mouse finds Rock. I love it when Chick reunites with his family.

It’s all super-sappy and over-the-top, no doubt. But it works for me. Every time, in every way, it works. I love it. And even as the credits rolled, the emotions didn’t stop.

The Closing Credits Scene Crushed Me

I was on the verge of uncontrollable tears during my first viewing during all of those moments, but somehow, I held it together. However, when they showed the wedding of Grace and A.J., and cut to the posters of Harry, Max, Oscar, and Nunan, I became undone. I wept in the theater like someone had died in real life. I was glued to my chair for endless time, sobbing like a child. I was so thankful it was dark because I hated to be seen like that.

But that’s what the culmination of all the feelings of all the plotlines in Armageddon did to me. It was something I’ll never, ever forget.

It’s a secondary point but after my first viewing and being able to appreciate the closing credits without the blinding tears, I also love the Super 8 camera usage. It makes it look so much like a real wedding.

Armageddon grossed over $200 million in its domestic run 25 years ago.

After 25 years, I know the flaws of this movie. I get why some people hate it. But I just don’t care. I don’t care that real NASA has found 168 errors in it. I don’t care what Billy Bob Thorton or Ben Affleck think about it. I don’t care what any critic has to say.

This movie has mesmerized me for a quarter century now. My wife watched it once with me and refuses to watch it again. Not because it’s bad, but because it’s so emotionally devastating. And since her dad has a kind of Harry Stampler vibe, you can guess why.

But Armageddon floods my soul with joy. It has since July 1, 1998. And today I celebrate it for the legacy it holds in my own heart.

Gowdy Cannon

Gowdy Cannon

I am currently the pastor of Bear Point FWB Church in Sesser, IL. I previously served for 17 years as the associate bilingual pastor at Northwest Community Church in Chicago. My wife, Kayla, and I have been married over 8 years and have a 4-year-old son, Liam Erasmus, and a baby, Bo Tyndale. I have been a student at Welch College in Nashville and at Moody Theological Seminary in Chicago. I love The USC (the real one in SC, not the other one in CA), Seinfeld, John 3:30, Chick-fil-A, Dumb and Dumber, the book of Job, preaching and teaching, and arguing about sports.

6 thoughts on “Armageddon Turns 25: Why I Love This Hated Movie

  • July 1, 2023 at 3:25 pm

    I agree too that even though the movie has its flaws it works extremely well. The jokes, over the top acting, the double launch, the crazy Russian are all mixed perfectly with the superb editing and emotionally charged music. The only flaw is that it’s a bit too much ra ra American but I digress. It is sealed with Aerosmith’s “I don’t want to miss a thing”. Just watch it (again)!

    • July 2, 2023 at 2:59 pm

      That’s great! Love the comment.

  • July 3, 2023 at 9:50 am

    This is definitely one of those movies that people love to hate, especially critics, and I just sit and shake my head because I think it’s a wonderfully entertaining movie. Yes, it’s a little emotionally manipulative at the end, but I don’t care. Sometimes, I want to feel things and this movie makes me feel big. Plus, it’s hilarious and fun and exciting.

    I’m going to watch it again as soon as I can. It’s been too long.

  • July 12, 2023 at 2:39 pm

    I’ll give you two bucks if you can remember the two people you went to that movie with.

    • July 12, 2023 at 8:23 pm

      Ha! I saw it twice in the theater so I am guessing you mean the second time. I went alone the first time, at least to my memory. I do know I went back again in the theater because I wanted to recreate the emotion of the first time (which failed) and I guess I went with others? I honestly can’t remember! Two dollars lost! LOL!

      You may appreciate this – I saw it Friday (or it may have been Saturday) and that Sunday at church I saw Vickie Baker and she saw me at the theater and we exchanged how much we loved the movie. I thought at that point, “People are going to love this!” but so many people didn’t.

      • July 16, 2023 at 4:31 pm

        I’m 80-90% sure that you let Grant and I tag along with you. Do you remind bumping into Mandy Spring and a few others afterward?

        It could have been that we went with Jeremy, but I’m pretty sure it was you.

        And yes, I had the same impression of the movie. Of course, just to see a movie in theaters at that age was a big deal!


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