You would know a Michael Bay film if you see one. His style is very distinctive. Big budget films loaded with special effects with an emphasis on explosions. His films are fast moving and visual. But they often lack story. His name is used pejoratively to describe films made for thirteen year old boys. His films are not for everyone and they are certainly not for me.
"Armageddon" involves an asteroid the size of Texas that is on a collission course with Earth and its going to hit in less than 18 days. NASA thinks they could land a crew of astronauts on the asteroid who could drill into the center and drop some explosives in an attempt to break it into relatively smaller pieces that if blown they would pass by the Earth. NASA recruits the best oil rigger, Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis) who will only do the mission if he can take up his own men. A motley assortment of roughnecks from all walks of life extremely unsuitable for the severity of this mission.
Now these oil riggers have to train for space travel in 12 days. Everything must be condensed and they probably don't understand much of what they were taught and they probably didn't get everything actual astronauts would receive. They are buffonish, but they embody the American working man. Despite the pressures of their mission, these men all agree to save the Earth.
There's a bit of a subplot involving Harry's daughter Grace (Liv Tyler) who has been dating A.J. Frost (Ben Affleck) much to Harry's dismay. Why Grace spent most her life on an oil rig is beyond me. Harry and A.J. have a bit of a rivalry and they butt heads constantly, but the issue is always about who Grace loves more, regardless of what they may be arguing about. Harry wants Grace to do better than an oil rigger, because she is better than that. It's just a catalyst for the audience to see how human these characters are and give us something to care about in this long, boring film.
At times there is humor, and that humor seems incredibly misplaced. When these oil riggers are training and should be taking things seriously, they are laughing and fooling around. The Earth is about to be destroyed in a week or more and they have so much to learn. Is this a way of dealing with the stress of the mission? Possibly. But at this short notice, this is the best NASA can do.
There are many problems with this film, but what I can't understand is why the mission isn't an international mission involving the best and brightest from many countries with space programs. It just seems incredibly jingoistic and arrogant that it's working class Americans who will save the Earth. There are exciting moments in the film, but they are so hard to follow with the editing and camera moving around so much. Overall, this is a film surely to delight people not looking for anything much more than some eye candy infused with patriotism and ideas of self-sacrifice.