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Details At A Glance

Category Disaster Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1998 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 144:40 minutes Other Extras None
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (77:13)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2 [Original Release #34542D5]
2,4 [Re-release #YU 34542v2.1.a VA01]
Director Michael Bay

Warner Home Video
Starring Bruce Willis
Billy Bob Thornton
Liv Tyler
Ben Affleck
Will Patton
Peter Stormare
Keith David
Steve Buscemi
Case Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music Trevor Rabin

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
German (Dolby Digital 5.1)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision ? Smoking No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement Yes

Plot Synopsis

    Armageddon and Deep Impact bear a striking resemblance to each other. They are both disaster movies. They are both big budget US "summer" movies. They both made lots of money at the box office. They both revolve around the premise of a cosmological object striking the Earth, annihilating all life. They both have pretty much predictable plots - filmmaking by numbers as it were.

    There are differences between them, however. In Armageddon, the enemy is an asteroid. In Deep Impact, the enemy is a comet. In Armageddon, the US president is white and up-beat. In Deep Impact, the US president is black and sombre (Morgan Freeman). In Armageddon, the emphasis is more on the amazing special effects and the gung-ho attitude of the Earth's saviours. In Deep Impact, they concentrate a little more on the human response to impending annihilation.

    Of the two movies, I preferred Deep Impact myself. However, Armageddon is no slouch of a movie, either, and is more of an arcade thrill ride than Deep Impact. Just don't expect anything other than a spectacular thrill ride, and you will not be disappointed.

    Bruce Willis is Harry Stamper. Harry is an oil driller. When NASA discovers that the asteroid is on its way to destroy the Earth, they call upon Harry and his team of roughneck oil drillers to save the Earth. There are the obligatory complications along the way, all telegraphed well in advance by the script, such as that which occurs on the Russian space station, and those that occur on the asteroid, but in the end...

Transfer Quality


    This title has been withdrawn from sale in Australia because it is the European disc, and is region-coded 2 only. Obviously, Warner Home Video and/or Buena Vista did not check this disc in a Region 4 only player before releasing it. A new pressing is being done, coded Region 4, but this will not be available for at least a month. In the interim, if you have a multi-region player, and you can locate a copy of this disc, grab it while you can. This is a sensationally good transfer, right up there among the best transfers that I have seen.

Addendum 20th August 1999: I have reviewed the remastered version, and it is identical in every way to the original Region 2 only release, except that it is coded for Region 2 and 4. There are several ways to tell the difference between the two versions. The packaging and catalogue number for both versions are identical (34542), so you must look at the disc to determine which version you have. The original Region 2 only version is labelled "2" on the disc label whereas the remastered disc is labelled "4". The Region 2 only version is labelled "34542D5/1" around the inner rim of the playing surface, whereas the Region 2/4 version is labelled "YU 34542v2.1.a VA01"

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is 16x9 enhanced. The 16x9 enhancement appears to be real, giving us a major advantage over the Region 1 versions of this disc, which are not 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer was razor sharp and crystal clear at all times. That's a phrase I occasionally use in my reviews, and it well and truly applies to this disc. The level of picture detail is amazing, with no evidence of ringing or edge enhancement to be seen. It is extremely film-like in its ability to resolve detail in the picture. Having said that, I found that shadow detail was a little lacking, in that blacks tended to be black with not a lot of detail contained therein, but this seemed to be a cinematographic choice rather than anything lacking in the transfer process itself. There was absolutely no low level noise. Blacks were very clean and crisp.

    The colours were well saturated throughout, with no evidence whatsoever of any under or oversaturation. A lot of aggressive, vivid colours are seen on display here, all perfectly rendered.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some minor aliasing on the sharpest and hardest horizontal lines, but this generally was well-controlled. There was a lot of camera panning in this movie, making it a real sitting duck for this artefact, but it was never excessive. Film artefacts were so rare that I cannot recall seeing a single one.

    The packaging inexplicably leaves out a number of the subtitle tracks; in addition to the subtitle tracks listed on the packaging, the following subtitle tracks are also present on this disc; Greek, Icelandic, and German. In addition to these, there are two additional subtitle tracks which are automatically selected when the German or French soundtracks are selected which provide occasional title overlays in the appropriate language.

Addendum 20th August 1999: Oops! Actually only the Greek subtitle track is left off the packaging - the rest are mentioned, but are listed slightly out of order.

    This disc, unlike its British Region 2 counterpart, is an RSDL disc with the layer change placed during Chapter 14 at 77:13, following an action sequence. It is minimally intrusive, and is certainly far less intrusive than having to get up and flip the disc over.

Addendum 20th August 1999: This disc has been re-released in the UK as a 16x9 enhanced RSDL formatted disc.


    There are three audio tracks on this DVD; an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a German Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and a French Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. I listened to the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

    The overall level of this soundtrack seemed a little low, and I eventually increased it by 5dB, which provided considerably more slam from the soundtrack.

    You cannot change audio selections on the fly, and must do this via the main menu.

    Dialogue was occasionally hard to make out, and was below the quality of the best audio mixes, which retain dialogue intelligibility even in the face of extreme ambient surrounding noise, but this was a minor complaint.

    There were no audio sync problems with this disc.

    The musical score by Trevor Rabin worked very hard to sound immense and important, and it generally worked quite well to achieve its aims, and tug the listener's emotions in the appropriate direction.

    The surround channels, as is to be expected in a movie of this type, were aggressively utilized for special effects, music and some ambience. Whilst not being quite as highly directional and aggressive as some of the other recent mixes I have listened to, nonetheless it remained a highly immersive and aggressively enveloping mix, great for demo purposes.

    The .1 channel was kept busy supporting all the explosions and supporting the music. It was very well integrated into the overall mix, never calling attention to itself, but anchoring the bottom end of this soundtrack nicely.


    There are no extras on this disc. Nada. Nil. Zip. The Amaray case has a small booklet which lists chapter stops, but this doesn't count as an extra. Neither does the little piece of paper stating that the disc is compatible with Region 4 players even though the disc label says Region 2. In this case, as noted above, this little piece of paper is incorrect, since the disc is encoded Region 2 only.

Addendum 20th August 1999: Understandably, there is no slip of paper in the remastered version of this disc.


    The main menu is plain and functional. It is 16x9 enhanced.

R4 vs R1

    This disc has been superseded by a Special Edition.


    Armageddon does not have a deep and meaningful plot. The plot holes are huge, and the dialogue corny at times, but approach it as a thrill-ride movie, and you will not be disappointed. This is a great demo disc to show off your system.

    The video quality is almost of reference quality with only some very minor aliasing to distract from the image.

    The audio quality is also almost of reference quality, with only the difficulty in understanding some of the dialogue standing in the way of this soundtrack receiving a reference rating.

    The extras are non-existent.

    Given that our version of this disc is 16x9 enhanced, there is no question in my mind that, despite the lack of extras, this is version of the movie to go for. That is, if you can find one! I can only hope that Buena Vista will not take the shortcut of releasing the British flipper to our market to rectify the region error, but rather will have the European version remastered with Region 4 encoding. Time will tell.

Addendum 20th August 1999: Thank goodness we received an appropriately remastered version of this disc.

Ratings (out of 5)

Extras nil

© Michael Demtschyna
22nd June 1999
Amended 20th August 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer