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Face-Off: Armageddon vs. Transformers

03.29.2012by: Paul Huffman
In last weeks Face Off, a few of our readers found it difficult to choose between Alien and Aliens on the grounds that they were too very different films, admittedly I ran into the same problem. However we did have a winner from our readers, in which James Cameron's sequel came out victorious with a score of 19-14.

Which brings us to this week. Michael Bay, you king of controversy you. His recent announcement regarding four beloved turtles has been met with plenty hostility...and his response to the fans is in no uncertain terms to just "chill" and trust him. Say what you want about the quality of the mans films, but when it comes down to it the man and his explosions get Box Office lovin'. For this weeks Face Off I present to you evidence of that fact with Exhibit A: Armageddon and Exhibit B: Transformers. Let's roll out.
Story
A "vicious life sucking b*tch from which there is no escape" in the form of an asteroid the size of Texas threatens to annihilate our lovely blue and green orb. In this event who are you gonna call? No not Ghostbusters...but oil drillers. Bruce Willis and his rag tag team of misfits are humanities last hope to prevent the world from suffering the same fate as the dinosaurs. Can these newly trained rough necks turned astronauts conquer the asteroid by hitting their 800 foot mark? Get your ass into a theater seat to find out, and boy did we.
All Sam Witwicky wanted was a new car, I guess getting a double whammy in the form of a new car and a new robotic alien companion isn't a bad way to go, no? Sam finds himself in the middle of a war that has been fought for ages by two factions of machines from a distant planet in the Autobots vs. Decepticons. Both factions are seeking out the AllSpark, a gigantic cube that is a tool to build an army out of all machinery on Earth. You know, I feel machines are sorely misrepresented in films. We should do something about that. Anyway our hero Sam must join with the peace loving Autobots to yes you guessed it, save the human race from extinction or enslavement.
Characters
Harry Stamper and his team have their own problems to deal with before being asked to...you know...save the world. Interesting relationship dynamics are formed in this movie. I totally bought in to the father/daughter relationship formed, as well as the surrogate father/son relationship Harry had with A.J (Ben Affleck). I loved these characters because of the humor and camaraderie they brought to the table. In the midst of all this survival uncertainty they still found time to make us laugh, you have to appreciate that. The movie had a good counterbalance to the that in the form of Col. Willie Sharp (William Fichtner) and his team, who took the shit they had to deal with seriously.
I like Shia LeBouf as an actor, and he pulled off his role as the reluctant hero who wasn't ready for the world he was thrust into just fine, at least he had company in the gorgeous eye candy (Megan Fox). With that said, the fact that I could have done without the Sam Witwicky character altogether and been perfectly content following the soldiers (Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson) speaks volumes about their characters as well. The rest of the supporting cast did a great job as well loved the inclusion of the hackers and John Turtoro being John Turtoro. And the Transformers, well Bay I think hit the nail on the head in this installment, Optimus Prime was the bad ass I wanted him to be and Megatron made for a formidable villain.
Action
The action in Armageddon now that I look back on it was fairly straight forward, the meteor shower in the opening of the film and the two shuttles crashing on the initial landing was the standout for me. Most of the tension was the smaller versions of the big rock being mean to our heroes, leave them alone they have a damn job to do. I have to say this for Armageddon, although the action in this movie was on a smaller scale than Transformers, I found myself more emotionally invested in the action that took place here. I think it had a lot to do with my attachment to the characters and the brilliant score by Trevor Rabin
For Transformers, action is the glue that held to proceedings together. Bay's love affair with slow motion and sh*t that go boom was put on front street in this movie. Many memorable action scenes here...the initial attack on base, the desert attack, Optimus whooping ass on the freeway, and of course the climax in the city. Bay showcased what he does best in Transformers and he did it beautifully, story be damned, and the story wasn't the worst thing in the world in this film. The sequels are another story. Sorry, I can't get Optimus Prime's ownage on the freeway out of my head.
Box Office
In it's opening weekend Armageddon grossed $36,089,972 and ultimately earned $553,709,788 worldwide making it the highest grossing film of 1998 beating out Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan.
The opening weekend for Transformers earned $70.5 million and came out to $155.4 in it's opening week. The movie earned a worldwide gross of $709.7 million making it the fifth highest grossing film of 2007.
Transformers
So there you have it, the quality of Michael Bay's films are a subject of debate and while these two movies may not be Bay's best work (The Rock takes that honor IMO), Transformers especially showcases his talent for good popcorn fun and the drawing power that results from that.

If you have an idea that you'd like to see in a future FACE OFF column, feel free to shoot an email to me at paulhuffman@joblo.com with your ideas and some ideas for the critique to base your ideas off. Thank you and in the meantime...

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