It took 15 years, but moviegoers are getting an apology for one of the brashest, outlandish, craptacularly entertaining blockbusters of all time.
Buried in a Miami Herald interview published Sunday about his upcoming film Pain & Gain, director Michael Bay offered a mea culpa for his 1998 hit Armageddon. The discussion was sparked by the interviewer noting that Bay’s new film, which stars Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson as bodybuilders who embark on a crime spree, has atypical editing for the director – the shots are held for longer than a few nanoseconds.
“I will apologize for Armageddon, because we had to do the whole movie in 16 weeks,” Bay says. “It was a massive undertaking. That was not fair to the movie. I would redo the entire third act if I could. But the studio literally took the movie away from us. It was terrible. My visual effects supervisor had a nervous breakdown, so I had to be in charge of that. I called James Cameron and asked ‘What do you do when you’re doing all the effects yourself?’ But the movie did fine.”
Armageddon’s rapid production schedule may have been caused by the film facing a creative arms race with another space-object-headed-toward-Earth title, Deep Impact. Deep Impact hit theaters first, but Armageddon still crushed at the box office, grossing $553 million world-wide compared to Deep Impact delivering $349 million, according to Box Office Mojo.
In the same article, Bay defends his spastic 1995 breakthrough hit, Bad Boys. “It’s really funny,” he says. “People have always given me a hard time on my editing. But if you could do a graph on my movies, you would see how my editing has slowed down over the years. Bad Boys was my first movie, and we cut that quite fast. Back then it was very new for action. Now you see a lot of that imitated. Call it what you will. Yes, critics have given me s–t about it. But when you watch the Bourne Identity movies, they are cut way faster.”
To be fair, Armageddon is far from Bay’s worst film. The movie isn’t subtle, but as popcorn entertainment it’s rather bluntly effective (sort of the way a sledge hammer is effective for pushing a thumb tack into a cork board). The film’s ending, where Bruce Willis sacrifices himself to save his daughter’s fiancee and humanity, had plenty of guys hiding their misty eyes from their dates in the theater.
Now Pearl Harbor is another story. And so is Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen. Thankfully, Bay already seemingly apologized for that one.