Our Daily Trailer: ARMAGEDDON

Yesterday was the 14th anniversary of this masterpiece's release. Anyone who doesn't like it is a Communist.

This three-minute "teaser" for Armageddon is the first trailer I ever downloaded, on my sister's Mac via dialup modem sometime in January or February of 1998. It took an hour or so to download, and I remember doing something wrong and having to download it again (on a different day - by that point someone needed the phone I'm sure!) so I could watch it over and over even when offline (magic!). And watch it over and over I did, until the movie itself came along and I was able to watch that over and over. As far as I'm concerned, Armageddon is one of the last great original summer blockbuster movies; the following summer was dominated by Phantom Menace, and then comic book/reboots/sequels/movies based on fucking board games and action figures took over. Hell, even Michael Bay hadn't really earned his place as a major polarizing figure yet (most folks liked The Rock), so we moviegoers were on a level playing field for a big event film; no one had "read the book" or "followed the comics since they were a kid" or "played the board game a lot," and those who had prejudged the film because of Bay (or Bruce Willis, or Jerry Bruckheimer) were relatively few.

What's interesting about this trailer (besides the hilarious fact that it was originally released as a "teaser" and yet runs three minutes) is that it ignores the love story angle between Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler's characters, focusing on the military/NASA action, the single best introduction of Bruce Willis in a trailer ever, and lots of 'splosions. I can't remember when this spot first surfaced, but I have to believe it was created before the juggernaut of Titanic (the fact that it just offers a vague "1998" release date certainly cements that theory). Now epic and potentially doomed romances were all the rage, and thus the next trailer, which debuted around April, gives us plenty of the two of them looking longingly at each other and molesting some innocent cookies, making Bruce look like a supporting character.

It also reminds me of Ebert's epic slam of the film, referring to it as "the world's first 150 minute trailer" or something along those lines. Looking at the film now, post-Transformers (and even his bloated Bad Boys II), some folks might be shocked to see how relatively "simple" it is. Bay still had some measure of self-control back then, and the film doesn't get enough credit for its smaller character moments. In this one film I learn more about a supporting character like Will Patton's Chick Chapel than I was able to discern about the main character (Sam Witwicky) of THREE Transformers films. In other words, guys like Ebert who thought this was bottom of the barrel had no idea how good they had it.

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