Armageddon is a national treasure, nay it is the Citizen Kane of disaster movies. Nothing beats Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck drilling holes on an asteroid whilst Liv Tyler and a gimpy Billy Bob Thornton wait on pins and needles back at NASA. Oh, and let’s not forget a young Owen Wilson throwing out Jethro Tull references, while Steve Buscemi racks up debts with a loan shark merely hours before the mission. The best part of all: Russia loves it.
Why, you ask? Because few movies have glorified the Russian space program quite like Armageddon. When the two American shuttles, the Freedom and Independence (because what else would they be named?) need to fuel up before slingshotting across the moon, who do they go to? Russia. When the Freedom stalls as the crew scrambles to get back to Earth, who saves the day? Russia. Lev, the Russian cosmonaut, is the real hero of this Michael Bay masterpiece.
No offense to Sochi’s opening ceremony last week, but if I were tasked with directing an Olympic opening ceremony to showcase Russia’s awesomeness to the world, I’d do it a bit differently. I would basically recreate Russia’s grandest cinematic showing of all-time for the world to see. Here is my vision for the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics:
A large black screen in the middle of Fisht Olympic Stadium reads “A long time ago in 1998…” As the screen rolls upward, two silver shuttles are revealed, soaring through the brisk air (yes, these shuttles are on strings, Team America –style). The shuttles dock at a Russian space station, where a quirky Russian cosmonaut, Lev, is sipping vodka and wearing a parka. “Welcome, cowboys!” he says in a thick Russian accent. As he fuels up both aircraft, Lev taunts Ben Affleck about how much better Russia is at figure skating than the United States. Ben simply replies “Kristi Yamaguchi.” Lev whips out a smart phone and YouTubes Evgeni Plushenko’s rousing rendition of Ginuine’s “Pony.” Ben is speechless. Scene.
Ben Affleck and Michael Clarke Duncan (RIP) are driving around on a space asteroid and get a little lost. They get into an argument over which way to go and eventually end up floating off into space after Ben attempts an Evel Knievel stunt to get them across a canyon on the asteroid. In a grand display of heroism, Lev dons his space suit, throws his body out of the vessel and leaps on to the back of the armadillo. After tinkering with the machinery for what feels like an eternity, the thrusters come back on and the armadillo returns safely to the asteroid. The three astronauts are seen toasting to Nadia Comaneci en route to the Freedom. Scene.
Just when things couldn’t be any worse, Steve Buscemi has officially been diagnosed with “space dimensia.” While Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck argue over who stays and who goes, the Freedom crew has a bigger problem on board: the ship is broken. As the two stuffy American pilots try every scientific trick in the book to patch up the ship, Lev sneaks in from behind and pounds the switchboard with Alexander Ovechkin’s hockey stick. After three or four solid slap shots, the shuttle’s engine magically begins to roar, to which Lev exclaims “Now I’m really a Russian hero!” The Sochi crowd roars as Aerosmith plays “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” For once, Steven Tyler’s mouth does not steal the show. Scene.
Just try and convince me you wouldn’t have been way more into the opening ceremony in Sochi if it would’ve been loosely based on the plot of Armageddon. Not only would it have been more entertaining with Michael Bay-sized pyrotechnics and American institutions like Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck, but it would have totally given the world an honest portrayal of Russia through the eyes of the cinema. Can we give Sochi a mulligan here? Hey, there’s always the closing ceremony.[Images via via via via] [related-posts]