Your handy navigation bar! Smell the excitement!

Armageddon: The Final Challenge

(You can also check out our video review of this film.)

There are many people out there who simply have no idea just how bad a movie can manage to be. So you saw Batman and Robin at the theater, and felt like the filmmakers not only owed you your money back, but a written apology for the time they stole from your life, and you angrily label the film as the worst ever. It isn't. It's terrible, and certainly one of the worst films ever made for its budget, but it can't hold a candle to Armageddon: The Final Challenge when it comes to sheer, unadulterated sucking. This isn't the worst film ever made, either; Feeders is worse, and there's probably an even worse film out there that we'll never see because it was too awful to even release. But this one is definitely up there in that rarified air of films that dare you not to laugh at their total stupidity and, in this particular case, utter lack of anything actually going on.

Please sue us, George! Or somebody. Anybody.

We got suckered into seeing this film for one very clear reason: we simply had to know what film lay behind the blatantly plagiarised Star Wars artwork on the box, which showed a Y-wing and (minutely altered) A-wing fighter blazing through the skies. The film wasn't titled anything as audacious as Please Sue Us, and we just had to find out who had the stones to dare the lawyer-lovin' Lucas to come for them with both barrels a-blazin'. The answer turned out to be writer-director Michael Garcia, who appears to have done nothing else for reasons that will soon become apparent.

So what happens in this film? Almost goddamn nothing. Certainly nothing that makes any sense, at least not any sense we care about. This film plays out as though it were written by a committee, which spouted a lot of science-fictiony crap that the director couldn't afford to do with his budget of four bucks (an exaggeration) and his cast of four characters (not an exaggeration), but was contractually obliged to at least mention during the film. We are "treated" to seemingly endless ramblings of pretentiously delivered crap about "fear-permutators," "space-adapted humans," "Man's first push against the stargate," and other vague and ultimately undefined prattlings that never get shown or expounded upon in the film itself, which mostly takes place in a couple of living rooms. This simultaneously unctious and whiny blabbling-on occurs over an equally endless-seeming procession of atrociously bad shots of model spaceships on very visible strings and Blade Runner wanna-be cityscapes made up of bits of toys and milk cartons assembled by badly-trained raccoons. It's all pointless, serving only to draw out the running time to feature length, as there is no space travel in the film at all-which I suppose is probably good for our "characters," since the spacecraft are often completely transparent and hung on strings I don't know if I'd trust my life to.

Our, ahem, hero, named Michael Edelander (or Michael Throne, depending on what part you're watching), is first seen returning to his apartment and deciding to buy a new android for sex. Let me just point out that nowhere in the film is the intimation that this guy is a creepy perv or a pathetic no-lifer. He's recently lost his wife and child, as we'll later learn, so perhaps fucking robots is just how he copes. He can't make his exciting transaction, however, because his bank accounts are mysteriously overdrawn and he must confront the sinister bank manager (by videophone, so he need not go into a new set) over the fact that he doesn't have and can't afford a "luncheon card," which sounds less like a credit card possessed by the rich and privileged and more like a half-step above "food stamps." There's nothing like a dramatic confrontation over an overdrawn bank account over the phone to get the ole' blood a-pumpin', unless one gets really wound up trying to understand how a guy who apparently can't afford to get lunch thinks he could afford an android. His problem is soon solved, fortunately, as he finds a nice-looking young girl named Voyou unconscious in his yard. (That's his original problem, and not the bank problem. That sticks around.)

He takes her in, but begins to have nightmares about the bank dude, starting with one wherein he swordfights the Master-from-Doctor-Who-ish pencil-pusher and awakes to find Gasp! the villain's sword in his very own room! What could it mean???


A subsequent dream, this time Voyou's dream, involves the monstrous bureaucrat ripping out Michael's heart. The waifish transient who wears an evening dress and gigantic earrings to bed awakens to find Gasp! a huge bloodstain on his shirt!! What could THAT mean???!!!!

Additional nothing.

Michael eventually meets Voyou's dad, who lives in "the last stronghold of the rebellion"....did I mention there was a rebellion? No? Neither has the film before this point, so climb on in; we're in the same leaky-ass boat. Anyways, the rebellion seems to consist of Dad (named Plato in the interest of pretention) and Voyou alone; against whom they are rebelling and why are questions for lesser, more plot-oriented films with lower yammering quotients. We learn, if we're paying attention, that Plato has precognitive visions which he paints as portraits. It's hard to pay attention to the speechifying, though, because the sight of the same spaceship repeatedly taking off outside the guy's windows every five seconds is amazingly distracting. It's crappily composited, it's obviously artificially slowed-down, and we see it every damn time the windows are in shot, which is very frequently. Michael doesn't know what to think, so he decides to "hop in the Dream Pod in search of the universal mind."

I swear I'm not making this shit up.

Hopping in the Dream Pod apparently means being badly chroma-keyed onto a starfield to play chess with the bad guy. The evil dude accuses Michael of cheating at one exactly do you cheat at chess? Hide an extra queen up your sleeve? Say, "My God, look over there!" and then pitch your opponent's bishop away? The two will eventually face off in a gun battle over...uhhm, something. Even the villain seems not to know what the fuck is up. I hope I never piss off my bank if I can expect this kind of shit to hit the fan for a simple case of bad credit.

The ending has to be seen to be believed, though if you feel no particular need to believe it, you can spare yourself the anguish of the seeing. Michael and Plato eventually take over the airwaves of the world to broadcast the exciting message that-again, I swear I'm not lying-Jesus is headed back to earth in a big spaceship on a string (they don't say that bit about the string, it merely happens to be true). Michael is apparently famous for making a heartfelt "I love you" declaration to his wife over the airwaves during a recent war, and as the war-ravaged world populace had nothing better to do than listen in, the entire earth is now intimately acquainted with his annoying voice and will assuredly believe the Good News.

Seen in this context, parts of the film almost seem to be aspiring to some kind of half-assed sense. The whole "your credit's no good with us" plot excuse seems to be a rather awkward (and unmotivated-how Michael is perceived as a threat to "The State" is never revealed) reference to the whole "mark of the Beast" Bible babble from Revelation. Why the worldwide broadcast should matter is another thing; I thought that those who've taken the mark and become part of the whole evil society (where everything actually works efficiently but for those troublemaking believers) were already damned. Plus I must remind you, gentle reader, that our futuristic John the Baptist started out this film wanting to buy some plastic boink-bot. Who knows. At any rate, Jesus comes back in a fleet of spaceships (only one of which they could afford to build), in "all his marmoreal majesty," and presumably sets things right, whatever things were wrong. Maybe those "Fear Permutators" we heard about way back when that never did jack. After two hours of incoherent plot, terrible effects, awful synth music and a worldwide evil "State" represented by exactly one cackling asshole, the film mercifully exits our lives.

"Marmoreal," by the way, means "marble-like." Jesus is like a slab of marble? Maybe they meant to say "arboreal," and meant that Jesus lived in a tree. Do I look like I know? You can't see me, but I assure you, I look nothing like I know. Neither, I suspect, does Michael Garcia.

There was a freaksome webpage out there that lengthily extolled the virtues of this film as being little short of...well, of the second coming of Jesus in all his marmoreal majesty, though it appears to have now vanished. There were numerous references to glowing reviews and awards received by this film, though as no links were given, I suspect some lying was happening. The magazines allegedly quoted had generic names such as "Movie Industry" that Google gives hundreds of thousands of hits in response to (none appearing to be magazine homepages, not that I looked at 400,000 of them to make sure), and even though this site referred to awards supposedly won in 2001 (for a 1994 film), indicating the relatively recent nature of the webpage, it also said that this film isn't yet available in video stores, which is of course where I found the fucking thing. I don't know if it was some monumental joke, or a desperate attempt at publicity, but there's no way anyone whose brain wasn't eaten by the family cat thinks that this film is anything short of anesthesia on tape. I've done the hard part for you, and I'm here to answer the one burning question you might conceivably have: There are no Star Wars spaceships in this film. Save your money and your time, even if missing it means your soul is damned to Hell. Hell has to be more interesting.

The final challenge is keeping down your pancreas when you so clearly want to puke it out. Just rent Anaconda or something else and be happy with a bearable level of craptitude. You don't deserve this movie, not even if you're in prison for murdering people with a lawn mower.

-review by Matt Murray

Back to the CPF Reviews page