Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Great Moments In... Awkward, Bulls--t Lines

Armageddon is one of those action films that miraculously becomes an acceptable guilty pleasure because it's so full of garbage and stupid, senseless, lowest-common-denominator fan-pleasing moments that are completely insane or full of it.

One of the most insane comes at the very end of the film, and if you've been spared the movie experience of watching Armageddon, I want to understand how stupid this film is: Steve Buscemi's character - who, btw, is called "Rockhound" - gets his longtime coworker Max (Ken Hudson Campbell) killed, and the "drama" of watching a guy catch on fire and then be shot out into space is actually played for a joke. Twice.

Long story short, Bruce Willis' character, Harry Stamper, takes a space shuttle to an asteroid and later sacrifices himself to save the world. For, um, I guess sentimental reasons, NASA allows his daughter, Grace (Liv Tyler) to sit in the command room so she can... uh, watch the action and speak to the two passengers who matter most to her: Harry, her dad, and A.J., her boyfriend (Ben Affleck). Well, nearly everyone sent on this mission has known her since she was a kid, but, since this is a movie, those are the only two people that she really cares about.

Anyway, with the mission successful and the world saved, A.J. reunites with Gracie, who seems really positive considering that she's now an orphan. It's at this point that the Air Force colonel (and astronaut) who flew Harry's craft comes over. The moment is supposed to do Gracie's character justice, and pay a final tribute to Harry, but this is just one of the most awkwardly-worded and misjudged scenes I've ever watched in my life.

One nice "trick" to reading and writing is to focus on (or ignore) the prepositional phrases. They add clarity to sentences, but also threaten to bog them down, diminishing their impact by filling them with extraneous detail. A sentence with a s--t-ton of prepositions not only becomes harder to read, it grows more and more awkward with every single preposition that you add.

And that's part of why I suggest to anyone who has difficulty reading a sentence - especially if it's in English and, like me, English wasn't their first language - to simply remove the prepositional phrases in a sentence that sounds confusing.

So, "requesting permission to shake the hand of the daughter of the bravest man I've ever met," is just a pure example of dogs--t, "what is this a first draft" writing. It's okay as a placeholder line, maybe, but by the time you're getting ready to shoot the script, that sort of thing should really have been cut down.

What's just as stupid here is that (a) Willie (William Fichtner, who deserves better than to be in this film) was a total d--k to the oil drillers that were sent up to stop the asteroid, (b) he actually threatened them repeatedly an hour earlier... and, worst of all, (c) he's a colonel who's saluting someone who isn't a member of any of the armed forces.

Don't even get me started on those freaking animal crackers.

Soldiers don't ever do that, it's like saying "Happy Memorial Day." And he's asking for permission to shake her hand when - at the very least - he was one of two pilots who transported Earth's saviors. Hell, he just flew her boyfriend into space and back - she should f--king thank him!

Willie Sharp was a total jerk, and he remains enough of a jerk to interrupt a couple while they're kissing, but even he doesn't deserve to be diminished like this. The Air Force risks the lives of its servicemen and -women every damn day...

And don't even get me started on a song that's so hack-tastic that it uses the word "miss" as its key verb in two consecutive lines!

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