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Movies of 1998 Bracket Game: Armageddon Vs. Deep Impact

1998 is right in the middle of an era in cinema that I have great affection for. The success of former video store employee Quentin Tarantino had been hugely influential and motivated a general expanded interest in independent film and in the value of both movie trivia and the expertise of your local hole-in-the-wall movie rental clerk. Many of the bigger studios had scrambled to put together projects and promote filmmakers who would help to bolster their street credibility and make them seem in tune with the times. While at moments this resulted in some movies that only had the markers associated with the sort of stuff they thought we wanted to see, but none of the genuine connection with the material that had made it interesting to begin with, I’d say the overall result was positive. Creative and idiosyncratic efforts were more likely to get the green light, and I consider that to be a good thing. At the same time, we were still getting a lot of very mainstream movies with pretty varied results, which served to remind us both of the value of earlier studio approaches and of the corporate malaise that independent films were in part a reaction against. It was a fine time to be a movie fan.

Today we’re looking at an example of the trend of copycat movies in which a theme or story idea is practically identical in two films released around the same time. Another example I could have gone with was A Bug’s Life and Antz, but that would have meant leaving out the more deserving Mulan, so this is our one copycat matchup. Let’s take a look!

But first, join in congratulating Out of Sight for getting the drop on Ronin in yesterday’s match. Commenters appeared to have a real attachment to the Elmore Leonard adaptation and they voted to send DeNiro packing.

What is there that can be said about a movie that I have gone out of my way to avoid seeing for the last twenty years? The one-two punch of action trash that is director Michael Bay and producer Jerry Bruckheimer was already well known enough to me that I was pretty sure which asteroid movie I was willing to give my seven bucks to (that’s about right for 1998, right?) I hadn’t really cared for Bay’s Bad Boys or The Rock, and I consider Bruckheimer’s Con Air from the previous year to be one of the most unpleasant movies I’ve ever seen pretending to be an audience-pleasing action romp. No way was I giving this pair money just so they could torture me for two and a half hours. I’ll give Bruckheimer credit where credit is due based on his role in bringing the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie to the big screen along with stuff like Remember the Titans and Beverly Hills Cop, but if you balance those against Coyote Ugly, Days of Thunder, Pearl Harbor, Kangaroo Jack, G-Force, and the remainder of the Pirates movies, I think we can all agree that the guy owes us an apology. Michael Bay has gone on to curse us with the Transformers movies as a director/producer and nothing of any discernible quality when producing anything else. Critics generally thumbed their noses at Armageddon upon its release, with Roger Ebert naming it the worst movie of the year – – so of course audiences made it the second biggest box office hit of the year. Sometimes we really don’t deserve nice things.

with Touchstone preparing to release their own asteroid disaster movie in July after hearing about Deep Impact, the folks at Paramount had to depend on two things to bring in audiences: Their movie was being released first, and their movie looked to have more prestige. Let’s detail some of that second point there. Steven Spielberg had plans to direct a film on the topic based on Arthur C Clarke’s novel Hammer of the Gods, and when Richard Zanuck and David Brown approached him about with a similar idea to remake the movie When Worlds Collide, he agreed to merge the two projects under his new company Dreamworks SKG. Although Spielberg didn’t end up directing Deep Impact, the movie was still able to attract several respected performers for its cast, including Morgan Freeman, Robert Duvall, Maximilian Schell, Vanessa Redgrave, and James Cromwell. Add a score by James Horner and you’ve got what looks like a relatively prestigious film. Unfortunately, audiences don’t go to disaster movies in hopes of seeing something respectable, and critics sensed that Deep Impact was a pretty mediocre movie when it came down to it, giving it lukewarm ratings at the best. Despite this, it might surprise you to know that Deep Impact was actually pretty successful at the box office, sitting at number one for two weeks and ranking number eight for the year overall. Box Office Mojo has no report of the film’s production budget, which might indicate that it didn’t end up making a big profit, but hey, they got my seven bucks (we’re going with seven dollars for a movie ticket in 1998, ok guys?)

Which world-destroying asteroid movie do you want to move on? Vote here and tell us about it in the comments section!

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Posted on January 19, 2018, in Bracket Game, Movies and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.

  1. Like I noted before, neither movie holds up very well today and neither was particularly good to begin with. I didn’t get around to seeing Deep Impact until about 6-7 years later and found it to be not excruciating. But not anything I’d go out of my way to see again. Armageddon I saw on TV about a year after its release and found it to be not excruciating. But not something I’d pay to see in the theaters. I’ve come across it on TV since then and while I haven’t personally stopped to watch it, it seems to still be around more than Deep Impact.

    Between the two, I’d say Deep Impact is slightly ahead mainly because it does appear to have put a tad more thought into the script than Armageddon did and also because it doesn’t have as many annoying moments as the Bay film does. However, the Bay film stands as the last Michael Bay film that one would rather not endure a root canal than watch*. Armageddon isn’t particularly good. But at least it’s tolerable, as opposed to the film he followed it with: Pearl Harbor, which was a crime against humanity.

    Another strike against Armageddon is that its soundtrack marked the moment when Aerosmith jumped the shark.

    Hence, Deep Impact wins the crapshoot Bracket.

    *Depends on one’s view of Pain And Gain (which I found decent even if it was a poor man’s Coen Brothers film) and The Island (haven’t seen).

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Aerosmith jumped the shark”

      😂🤣😂🤣

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      • Yeah, I immediately pictured Steven Tyler in full stage get-up water skiing towards a ramp 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, they did follow in Fonzie’s footsteps, albeit not literally. Then again, they had been on a downward spiral of sorts (in quality if not necessarily sales) for a while by then.

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    • This is definitely a case of “which movie causes less physical pain while watching?” I could have just left these movies off the bracket, but I thought including this matchup helped best represent 1998 as a year. In the next round the winner here will face an ACTUAL cartoon.

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  2. I like Deep Impact, it has heart. I’m especially fond of the Tea Leoni and her dad story arc. Elijah Wood I could have done without, tbh. But Leelee Sobieski was nice, and Morgan Freeman makes almost anything worth watching.

    Your breakdown of the two-headed monster known as Bay/Bruckheimer had me rolling on the floor… 😂😂 I couldn’t agree more, and you’re a wise man for having avoided Armageddon for all these years. For some dark, strange reason I’ve seen it 3 or 4 times, and there’s one line that I will never be able to get out of my head, when Bruce Willis says:
    “Drilling is an art!”

    Right man. Sure it is… 🙄

    Poetry.

    Liked by 2 people

    • A friend of mine pointed out that there was no way Frodo could have ridden his bike that fast from Virginia Beach to the mountains, which is entirely true. As close as it might look on a globe…it’s just not. I grew up in Va Beach and that trek would have made for an entire movie of its own. We di have Mount Trashmore in Va Beach, which was a big public park centered around a large mound of garbage that had been covered with sod so kids could play on it. Hmmm….what does that remind me of?….

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I saw both of these movies in the theater and I didn’t hate either one. I haven’t watched either one since and I have no desire to do so. I wouldn’t say either movie was good, but Deep Impact was not bad. That’s enough to win my vote in this one.

    I didn’t really want to see Armageddon, but I was entertaining an out-of-town guest who desperately wanted to see it. This was during my movie theater says, so tickets were free. The entire time he was staying with me, we saw one crappy movie of his choosing after another. My expectations could not have been lower and Armageddon met them without actually exceeding them. It was bad, but the “how did this ever get made” factor kept me entertained throughout.

    Having compiled the sequels of 1998 for an upcoming article, I disagree with Mr. Ebert’s choice for worst movie of the year. Trust me, there were worse movies than Armageddon.

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    • I imagine so, but perhaps Roger was trying to send a message about what sequels he did not want to see in future years.

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      • I imagine he was punishing Armageddon for its success much like the Razzies do. And I have no problem with that.

        Gene chose Patch Adams that year. I’m with Gene on this one.

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        • Well, it’s sort of like the difference between a bad song you hear once by mistake and a bad song that somehow gets played over and over and over on the radio and in public spaces. Which song do you hate more?

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        • Patch Adams. 😉

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        • But here’s the thing: Patch Adams wasn’t really venturing off the screen and into everyday life like Armageddon was. In my memory, I saw a few commercials for Patch Adams, I heard it was awful, it quickly disappeared from theaters, and that was the end of it. I never had to hear about it again. The same could not be said for Armageddon, and that created some actual antipathy that would have been wasted on Patch Adams.

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        • Armageddon had a wider reach than Patch Adams, no doubt. I hate, hate, hated Patch Adams. Armageddon didn’t bother me. It was just another big, dumb, loud movie. Heck, it wasn’t even the worst big budget blockbuster/disaster movie of the year. 1998 was the year when size mattered and Godzilla sucked.

          (BTW, Patch Adams’ theatrical release ran 23 weeks. Armageddon’s was only 12 according to Box Office Mojo. The difference is since Patch Adams came out over the holidays, it was able to remain in theaters through the spring of ’99.)

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        • I can see where if I was working in a movie theater at the time that would have been frustrating. As a person who was going to the movies I just went to a different movie and the tentacles of Armageddon into other parts of life were more bothersome to me.

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        • Truth is, we didn’t even have Patch Adams at the theater I was working at at the time. It ran at the competitor’s chain of theaters. So, I didn’t have to deal with it. But I went with friends and good lord, it was an abomination. Have you endured it? It’s one of those movies that manipulates the audience in every conceivable way. Rape? Check. Sick kids? You betcha. Death of a loved one? Of course. And all wrapped up in the smugness of Robin Williams at his most grating (may he rest in peace).

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        • Thankfully I generally do a good job of shielding myself from bad movies that aren’t “so bad it’s good” in nature. I’m not arguing that one movie was actually worse than the other. I’m merely lending some context and validity to pointing a finger at a movie like Armageddon that won’t even leave us alone after we’ve left the theater.

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        • I’m not dumping on Roger’s choice. I get what he was going for. Armageddon represented every idiotic event movie he had to sit through every summer.

          I don’t remember if I had heard bad things about Patch Adams or not. I used to watch Ebert and Siskel, but their show ran over the weekend after the movies were open. I want to say they were on Sundays where I lived. Not terribly useful for avoiding bad movies. And the local critics could not be trusted. I think I went into Patch Adams unaware of what I was in for. The internet is a real blessing when it comes to bad movie avoidance.

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        • There was something about the ads for Patch Adams that let me know right off the bat that it was exactly the movie you and robbushblog are describing and thankfully nobody insisted on dragging me to it. That latter thing also hasn’t happened to me for a long long time. I think people know better. I am the person that told Warner Brothers executives to their faces that Thumbelina was trash right after a free screening I was invited to.

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        • I don’t wanna close my eyes. I don’t wanna fall asleep, cuz I’d miss you, baby, and I don’t wanna miss a thang. Good luck getting that out of your head now. You’re welcome!

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        • I was forced to see PATCH ADAMS on Christmas Day of 1998 instead of the movie that I wanted to see. And then it turned out to be a hokey, cloying piece of emotionally manipulative garbage. I was not shy about expressing my disappointment with the film choice. I think that was the last time I went to the movies on Christmas Day.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Growing up, I always assumed movie theaters were closed on Christmas. There was no way my dad would have allowed us to go to the movies on Christmas, so I just assumed that wasn’t a thing. I was in for a rude awakening when I actually started working in the business and holiday shifts were mandatory. A customer once asked me if they could get a discount for coming on Christmas. I said “How about I charge you extra for making me work on Christmas?” They walked away stunned. Not my best moment, but I stand by the sentiment.

          Do you remember what the other movie was?

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        • MIGHTY JOE YOUNG. It wasn’t great, but it was certainly better than PATCH ADAMS. Plus, Charlize.

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        • Oh God…PATCH ADAMS…what total garbage! I would rather watch ARMAGEDDON again than watch PATCH ADAMS again.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Definitely way worse than Armageddon. There’s no way Armageddon was worse than A Night At The Roxbury, Wrongfully Accused, Firestorm, My Giant, Senseless, Sphere, Hope Floats, Urban Legend, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer and the Jerry Springer fiasco Ringmaster. Compared to those, Armageddon looks pretty good.

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  4. DEEP IMPACT was merely mediocre, while ARMAGEDDON was garbage. DEEP IMPACT wins.

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  5. DEEP IMPACT also wins for better porn title.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m in the same camp with a lot of other commenters on this round. Neither movie was really outstanding, but Deep Impact was much easier to endure.

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