|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Friday, 16 April 2010|
Beside the film holding some sentimental meaning for myself, it is one the best of the apocalypse movies from the 90s. Around the time of these destruction blockbusters, things seemed to be released in twos. Just prior to "Armageddon" came "Deep Impact." In my honest opinion, the former bests the latter by leaps and bounds.
Released just a few years after "Apollo 13," "Armageddon" uses some of the same CG effects for the shuttle launches and space sequences. They hold up fairly well on the Blu-ray format.
In case you haven't heard, "Armageddon" is about the destruction of the earth and all of humankind. When an asteroid the size of Texas is discovered and expected to impact earth in 18 days, NASA and the government must recruit a team to drill on the asteroid and plant a nuclear bomb.
Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck lead two teams on the asteroid. Other known stars in the film include Michael Clarke Duncan, Steve Buscemi, Billy Bob Thornton and Liv Tyler.
Sure, "Armageddon" has some serious problems but it is still entertaining and easy to overlook its issues when not seen in a while. Unfortunately, I had just seen the film again just one week before receiving this disc. It happened by coincidence as I was experimenting with 3-D video and ended up choosing to convert "Armageddon" into 3-D. The asteroid and shuttle flight sequences were awesome in 3-D by the way. Makes you wonder why everything isn't presented in 3-D. Okay, enough of that tangent.
Having watched it twice in just a short time span, I end up criticizing all the script supervising errors and simple inaccuracies. However, reminding myself that this is a summer blockbuster, I place those issues aside. The only issue that I cannot get around is that for an action blockbuster the film is too long. There are extended sequences that could have been easily been cut from the film to keep the film moving a bit more quickly.
The only reason that this film is getting four stars is because it is fun and entertaining, not because it is a classic by any means. Still, "Armageddon" will stay alive in cinema history.
"Armageddon" is one of the rare movies which was only released once on the standard DVD format. And, unfortunately the film was released in a non-anamorphic widescreen format. This was very upsetting as widescreen HDTVs became more prevalent. That means that the 2.35:1 image was letterboxed in a 4:3 image and then display on a 1.78:1 widescreen HDTV. So, the image is floating in the middle of the screen and the only way to remedy this issue is to hit the zoom on the TV, effectively decreasing the quality. So, the simple fact that the Blu-ray contains a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is already a welcomed upgrade from the previous DVD edition. The transfer is quite excellent. The black levels are better than I would have expected though they are not perfect. My biggest complaint with the video has to by the overblown white due to elevated contrast levels. Film grain is present throughout the film but rarely brings attention to itself. Details in the shadows are readily apparent. Textures and details are great but could be improved. Fleshtones fluctuate throughout the film. There are times in which faces appear sickly green. On the other hand, colors are vibrant when need be. The source print appears to be in great shape with no visible damage. While not quite reference quite fans will certainly be pleased with the image quality.
The audio quality just slightly tops the video quality. While there are a few issues, they are minor and probably will go unnoticed by most. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is very engaging. As to be expected with an action film the surround channels are fully used with every shuttle flyby, asteroid flyby and growl of the breathing asteroid. Unfortunately, environment replication is inconsistent. While dialogue can sound in place at certain times, other dialogue moments sound unnatural. That being said, the dialogue is clear and present throughout. LFE support is strong but a bit uncoupled from the high frequencies. Dynamics are strong and expansive but never jump unexpectedly. Directionality is spot on. This is also close to being a reference track.
The Blu-ray comes with the same special features as the original DVD. Unfortunately, that is not very much. In fact, it is only a music video and a trailer. There are no deleted scenes or audio commentaries.
"Armageddon" is not for everybody, but it is a classic blockbuster action film that turns out well on Blu-ray. Disney/Buena Vista turns out some of the best video and audio transfers and this film is no exception. This disc is highly recommended.