Fat Guy Kevin Carr reviews Walt Disney Studios’ Blu-rays of Armageddon and Tombstone.
What it’s about: Michael Bay blows a lot of shit up when Bruce Willis and a gang of deep-core drillers lay the smack down on a planet-killing asteroid the size of Texas.
The movie: Rocks! – While I am far from a Michael Bay fan, I count Armageddon as his most enjoyable film ever. I think part of the reason it works so well is that in 1998, Michael Bay didn’t command the control he does now. This allowed the studio to meddle with the script and actually force him to do some work with the characters (even if the forced post-Titanic love story is a bit weak). Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have J.J. Abrams helping with the script. This movie is a blast… literally. The cast is excellent and the action is awesome. And with the exception of a few visual effects that don’t quite hold up, it still looks great even 12 years after it was made.
The bonus material: Kinda sucks – There’s a disturbing trend with studios releasing films on Blu-ray. Many releases come with fewer bonus features than the original DVD release… or none at all. The features on the Armageddon Blu-ray are very sparse, with only the “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” music video and the standard-definition trailers. This is further bothersome considering the Criterion DVD release of Armageddon was fantastic and loaded.
Notes on the Blu-ray experience: The only reason to pick up a release like this is to see the film in high definition because there is no reason to get the few features on Blu-ray. Fortunately, being a Michael Bay movie, it’s made for high definition. Bay’s films always look fantastic, and the transfer is crisp and clean. Not for the features, but for the film, this is worth checking out in this format… if you can handle looking at Billy Bob Thornton and Steve Buscemi’s teeth in 1080p.
Studio: Hollywood Pictures
What it’s about: Kurt Russell plays Wyatt Earp, kicking ass and taking names in the lawless town of Tombstone, Arizona.
The movie: Rocks! – I hadn’t realized how long it has been since Tombstone was released until I looked at the date. For a film that hit the theaters damn near 20 years ago, I am impressed as hell at how this movie holds up. There are few modern westerns made, and this is one of the best. It has a great set-up and fantastic acting. The action is likewise gritty and visceral. I loved the shoot-out at the O.K. Corral, but that’s just the beginning (or rather, the middle) of the story. Having been to Tombstone, Arizona with the family about five years ago, I found a new appreciation for the set design, but it’s the acting and the powerful action that makes this film remain awesome to this day.
The bonus material: Kinda rocks – Unlike the aforementioned Armageddon, I have not browsed through the original DVD release of Tombstone, and while this disc has relatively few special features, there’s at least something more on it than the movie. The most interesting thing is the featurette “The Making of Tombstone,” which has some nice interviews, including one with future Twilight-director Catherine Hardwicke as the production designer. Additional special features include the director’s original storyboards and a slew of trailers and TV spots.
Notes on the Blu-ray experience: Like Armageddon, this film is great in high definition, showing the gorgeous landscape of the American cinematic western. Tombstone is full of testosterone, piss and vinegar, and it all comes across in rich colors in this presentation. Looks great. Sounds great. Love it.