Advertisement

Tears and Smiles After ‘Armageddon’

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Outside the Universal City 18 Cinemas, 22-year-old Sheila Lane flashed a broad smile through tears after seeing “Armageddon” on Wednesday.

“I’m not big on event movies, but this had such great characters,” the Van Nuys woman said through sniffles. “I came to see Ben Affleck and I got my money’s worth.”

When Lane mentioned Affleck, her friend Elizabeth Lewis, 24, laughed. “She kept twisting my sleeve every time he came on the screen,” she said. She then volunteered her own take on why she found the film so appealing. “I loved ‘Deep Impact,’ but I was more emotionally involved in ‘Armageddon,’ ” Lewis said. “It had characters that I actually cared about.”

Flatly ignoring the less-than-stellar reviews launched by film critics across the country in recent days, L.A. moviegoers seemed downright giddy about the much-hyped summer blockbuster starring Affleck, Bruce Willis and Liv Tyler.

Advertisement

Based on purely unscientific sidewalk surveys, the majority of viewers interviewed--from teenage girls to middle-aged men--saw the movie as anything but a disaster. As predicted, most people commented first on the film’s flashy depictions of explosions and mass destruction and inevitably compared it with the summer’s other rock-hits-Earth adventure, “Deep Impact.” “Deep Impact,” which opened May 8, is still playing strong in theaters.

Hartshorn Murphy, a priest from Santa Monica, took his son, Taran, 17, to the film on opening day. “ ‘Armageddon’ was 30 times better than ‘Deep Impact,’ ” Taran said. His father agreed: “I enjoyed the special effects and there was much more action.”

Many had expected the emotional story lines in “Deep Impact” to contrast with the high-tech emphasis of “Armageddon.” In fact, many of those surveyed said they had come with low expectations, but most of the women found the relationships in “Armageddon” even more engaging than in “Impact.”

Monika Roy, 18, of Los Angeles, went to see “Armageddon” only because her friends were going. “Because the story lines [between “Armageddon” and “Deep Impact”] were so similar, I wasn’t really excited to go,” Roy said. “I really wasn’t expecting much because I thought I could tell the whole story from the trailer, but the whole father / daughter thing really worked for me.”

Advertisement

Dana Braswell from Venice also favored “Armageddon.” “ ‘Deep Impact’ was kind of corny and the heroes were too young,” said the 32-year-old sales rep. “I like my heroes a little older, like Bruce Willis,” she said. Her date, Max Mena of West Los Angeles, added, “It made me cry at the ending.”

Of course, not everyone in the film’s target demographic was satisfied. Standing next to a phone booth outside the AMC theater in Santa Monica, 16-year-old Miguel Vasquez was disappointed. “I didn’t like it too much. In the end, nothing happened,” he said. “It was a rip-off.”

And not all women found the relationships convincing. Renee Waight, a receptionist from Gardena, left the theater complaining about the film’s lack of emotion.

“The story line I didn’t care for, but the special effects were very good,” she said. “The only emotional part for me was when the man [Chick Chapple, played by actor Will Patton] went to see his son.”

Advertisement

Although 27-year-old Antonia Lau liked the movie, she admitted the film had its shortcomings. “Two hours and 45 minutes is stretching it a bit, and it was very male-dominated.”


Advertisement