Armageddon-Director's Cut: Collector's Edition (1998)

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Released 6-Nov-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-M Bay (Dir),J Bruckheimer (Prod),B Willis & B Affleck (Acts)
Audio Commentary-J Schwartzman (DoP), Dr. J Allen & I Beckey (Consultants)
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Special Effects
Featurette-Production Design
Gallery-6
Storyboards-2
Music Video
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1998
Running Time 147:09
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (79:35)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Michael Bay
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Bruce Willis
Billy Bob Thornton
Liv Tyler
Will Patton
Steve Buscemi
Ben Affleck
William Fichtner
Owen Wilson
Michael Clarke Duncan
Peter Stormare
Ken Campbell
Jessica Steen
Keith David
Case Soft Brackley-Transp-Dual
RPI $34.95 Music Trevor Rabin


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, BMW
Action In or After Credits Yes, "The Wedding"

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   Armageddon is a film most people would have seen by now... but for those that haven't, if the mere mention of the names Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer bring a chill to your spine, I would suggest that this movie is not for you.

   For the readers still with me that haven't seen the film, Armageddon is basically an action-filled romp to save the world by blowing up a "global killer" asteroid that is on a collision course with the Earth. It is blessed with a great ensemble cast for an action film, with the core of the film focusing on Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis) who is the "world's best deep-core driller" and his right-hand man A.J. Frost (Ben Affleck), who are entrusted to save the world by Dan Truman (Billy Bob Thornton) of NASA. It seems NASA and the U.S. Air Force have been secretly developing a new super-Shuttle that will enable Harry's team to travel to the asteroid, drill, and then drop a nuclear bomb down the hole. The movie then continues with explosions, crashes, flying, landing, more explosions, drilling, even more explosions and so on (you get my drift).

   Oh, I almost forgot to mention... after the success of Titanic at the box office, the popularity of a love story was made clear, and we are given a glimpse of something that resembles one through the relationship between A.J. and Harry's daughter Grace (Liv Tyler). However, don't expect much in this regard... this is an action-filled romp, remember!

   Question: How do you train, in 12 days, a group of roughneck oil drillers to work in space? If you're seriously looking for an answer here, you're watching the wrong movie.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Let me say this up front. The video quality of this DVD is not as good as the previous Region 4 DVD release, although it comes close. (It trounces on the Region 1 Criterion Edition though!).

    It is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is clear and sharp, with good black levels and good clarity and detail in the shadows and darker scenes. There is no low level noise. There is no excessive film grain, giving a film-like smoothness to the image.

    Colour detail is excellent, with beautiful colour ranges presented perfectly throughout the film.

    There were no MPEG artefacts that I could see, although film-to-video artefacts consisted of quite noticeable amounts of aliasing (22:16) and edge enhancement (11:37) throughout.

    This disc supports English subtitles for the Hearing Impaired and they are about the most faithful to the actual on-screen dialogue as I have ever seen.

    The disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer change occurring just after the escape from the Russian Space Station at 79:35. It is well placed and minimally intrusive.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Armageddon has an excellent soundtrack, although only supplied in English Dolby Digital 5.1 on this disc.

    The dialogue clarity overall was excellent, although it became a little difficult to understand during the larger action sequences. Ben Affleck mentions the difficulty of dialogue recording during his commentary track, noting specifically moments during the oil rig scenes. Audio sync was not an issue at all.

    The music in the film matches the on-screen performances well, getting the adrenaline pumping or helping to slow things down when needed.

    Being the big blockbuster action film it is, the surround channels were used to the extreme, with great channel separation and overall soundfield usage. Not the most outstanding soundtrack ever, but very dynamic nonetheless.

    The subwoofer was working overtime in this film, going out of its way to support the on-screen action whilst not dominating the soundfield.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio & Animation

   The menus are a major improvement over the previous Region 4 disc, with excellent animations and easy navigation. They are 16x9 enhanced.

Disc 1

Audio Commentary with Michael Bay, Jerry Bruckheimer, Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck

   This is quite an informative commentary track, with interesting information about the filmmaking process being provided (mostly) by Michael Bay, and humorous anecdotes by Ben Affleck and Bruce Willis. I believe this commentary track is spliced from many singular commentary tracks, as there is no interaction between the participants.

Audio Commentary with John Schwartzman, Dr. Joe Allan and Ivan Bekey

   Very different from the other commentary, this mixes filmmaking information from the Cinematographer John Schwartzman with factual information on NASA from Dr. Joe Allan and asteroids by Ivan Bekey.

Disc 2

    On the second disc, we are presented with a feast of extras. When first inserting the disc you will be presented with a language choice menu which controls the interface and subtitles. The languages supported are English, French, Italian, German, Spanish and Dutch. Almost everything with dialogue has subtitles available (the music video has them too, although the actual song part only has English subtitles).

Deleted Scenes

   There are 5 scenes in total merged into a single compilation with a total running time of 3:32. For those that want to jump right into a specific scene, here are the start/stop times:

Featurette - Special Effects

   There are three separate featurettes available with either Richard Hoover, Hoyt Yeatman or Pat McClung from Dream Quest Images, one of the digital effects companies that worked on Armageddon.
Richard Hoover - Visual Effects Supervisor (total 15:32)

    You can either select "Play" to watch from beginning to end, or you can select the segment you want to watch from the menu. The segments are:

Hoyt Yeatman - Visual Effects Supervisor
Pat McClung - Visual Effects Supervisor (total 7:37)

    You can either select "Play" to watch from beginning to end, or you can select the segment you want to watch from the menu. The segments are:

Featurette - Production Design

   Michael White, the Production Designer for Armageddon takes us through some of the details of his job. Total running time is 7:12.

Design Gallery

   Numerous design drawings from the pre-production of Armageddon, showing the ambitious scope this film had, and also explaining its (overly) large budget. They are broken into specific sections which are:

Storyboards

   There are two storyboards supplied that show how well-planned these two action scenes were.

Music Video

   This is a little more than just a music video, with a small interview with the band, the music video and an advert for the album merged together, for a total running time of 6:59. If you just want to skip to a specific section, I have noted down the start/stop times for your convenience.

Theatrical Trailer

   Who doesn't remember the massive media blitz this film carried with it in the lead-up to its release? Shown here in 2.00:1 Letterboxed (approx), with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

   The Region 4 Director's Cut misses out on:

   The Region 1 Criterion edition misses out on:

   Out of all of the features missing on our release, the only one that is worth anything is the Gag Reel. Whilst it is a shame to not have this, the increase in picture quality of the Region 4 Director's Cut over the Region 1 Criterion Collection edition as a result of the 16x9 enhanced transfer makes up for it considerably. In this case, I have to award the Region 4 Director's Cut the victory.

Summary

   Armageddon is a film that doesn't challenge you cerebrally, but that was never the intention. It is a popcorn movie... so leave your brain switched off and you may find yourself enjoying it.

   The transfer is of high quality, although it is let down by edge enhancement and aliasing.

   The soundtrack is excellent, whilst seeming to have the same minor issues with hard-to-hear dialogue in some scenes as other DVD releases of the film.

   The extras supplied are excellent. Our friends in the USA have been blessed for too long with the Criterion Collection edition's multitude of extras, whilst we have been left with nothing. I don't know how Buena Vista did it, but thanks to them for helping to even the playing field.

   One last thing. For those that already own the previous Region 4 release of Armageddon, you may wonder whether I recommend you go out and buy this disc. Well the answer is: maybe. If you simply can't live without the extra 3 mins 49 seconds of footage or extra features that this version offers, then yes. If not, rent it first and then make up your own mind. In the end, the choice is yours (and so is the money!).

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Shane Lord (read my bio)
Saturday, November 17, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-DB1070. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationElektra Theatre 150 Watts x 6 channel Power Amplifier
SpeakersEnergy eXL-16 left/right front speakers; Energy eXL-C centre speaker; Energy eXL-R left/right rear speakers; Wharfedale SW-12 Subwoofer

Other Reviews
Michael D's Region 4 DVD Info Page - Hi

Comments (Add)
Ordinary Sound - Damien (biotech is godzilla)
re: Ordinary Sound - Roger T. Ward (Some say he's afraid of the Dutch, and that he's stumped by clouds. All we know, this is his bio.)
Likes and Dislikes have nothing to do with It! - Damien (biotech is godzilla)
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