Michael Bay May or May Not Be Sorry for ‘Armageddon’

Whew! Thank heavens that's been cleared up ... we were getting a little worried that cinema's Master of Mayhem (or, rather Bay-hem) was getting soft on us.

"Pain & Gain" director Michael Bay raised a few eyebrows yesterday when he dogged his own film.

"I will apologize for 'Armageddon,' because we had to do the whole movie in 16 weeks," Bay told The Miami Herald. (Though Bay has since eaten his words, writing a response on his website, claiming his statements were "twisted.") "It was a massive undertaking. That was not fair to the movie. I would redo the entire third act if I could," the Herald quoted him as saying.

Bay went on to describe the film's troubled post-production process, during which he turned to the King of the World himself for advice.

"It was terrible. My visual effects supervisor had a nervous breakdown, so I had to be in charge of that," said Bay. "I called James Cameron and asked 'What do you do when you’re doing all the effects yourself?' But the movie did fine."

The movie did more than "fine." "Armageddon," which revolved around a group of oil drillers (led by Bruce Willis, natch) sent into outer space to blow a deadly asteroid en route to Earth to smithereens (to the soothing sounds of Aerosmith, at that), cost a pretty penny at $140 million but went on to earn more than $553 million worldwide. It was the event movie of the summer of 1998, smashing would-be competition like the similarly-themed "Deep Impact" and "Godzilla" underfoot.

Michael Bay
Michael Bay

"Armageddon" certainly isn't a perfect movie, but there's absolutely no reason to "apologize" for it. It was big and loud and dumb and awesome and you know you cried when (SPOILER!) Bruce Willis died so that the rest of us may live.. It was an "audience pleaser" if there ever was one, driving the audience to salute the screen with its shameless patriotism and making us laugh so that we may not cry at the sight of Ben Affleck playing with animal crackers on Liv Tyler's tummy. Hell, even the high-standards cineastes at The Criterion Collection liked it -- they released an excellent DVD edition of the film, which Jeanine Basinger describes as "a work of art by a cutting-edge artist who is a master of movement, light, color, and shape -- and also of chaos, razzle-dazzle, and explosion" in her accompanying essay. You're damn right.

Michael Bay himself must have re-read that essay in the past 24 hours, as he's now come forth and claimed that his comments were taken out of context. In fact, he's now defending "Armageddon" -- the film and the experience -- with a new found gusto, posting the following statement on his own website:

One press writer has gone too far in reporting false information. He has printed the bare minimum of my statement which in effect have twisted my words and meaning. I'm not in the slightest going to apologize for the third movie in my movie career, a film called 'Armageddon.' On the red carpet for 'Pain & Gain' some reporters asked me what are you apologizing for, and I said what on earth are you talking about?

What I clearly said to the reporter, is I wish I had more time to edit the film, specifically the the third act. He asked me in effect what would you change if you could in your movies if you could go back. I said, I wish we had a few more weeks in the edit room on 'Armageddon.' And still today 'Armageddon,' is still one of the most shown movies on cable TV. And yes, I'm proud of the movie. Enough said.

Enough said indeed. Now, let us all sally forth to the latest bit of Bay-hem, "Pain & Gain," opening April 26.

Watch 'Pain & Gain' Theatrical Trailer: