My main complaint is how completely formulatic this film is. As the astronauts entered their shuttle and gave a glance to the crowd, I leaned over to my friend and remarked, `Gee, I wonder which of these guys isn't coming back.' It's completely obvious. I wish the screenwriters had at least attempted to break the mold here and throw a few surprises at us. I must give a little credit to Clint Eastwood as the director, however. There is an interesting effect in the opening sequences in which he uses voice-overs to convince the audience that the young pilots are the same characters as the old ones. While this is a good attempt, it just doesn't work. Tommy Lee Jones' young character was particularly laughable. but nice try, guys. I think they must have realized that it wasn't really going to work, because they made every attempt they could to cover the mouths of all the actors.
Secondly, it seems like a lot of elements were just glossed over. For example, we don't really spend any time with the main character's wife. We meet her in the beginning, but then we don't see her again until the launch (during which she never says a word). It would have been interesting to know what she thinks about the mission. Is she excited for her husband? Is she nervous? How did he break the news to her? Does she not want him to go? Additionally, when a main character sacrifices himself, the film doesn't spend much time on his departure. At least the movie didn't create a typically sappy `goodbye' scene, but in a sharp contrast, the scene seems rather rushed. In fact, the whole space section of the film is rather rushed. And in the end, what happens to the `villains' of the film? Are they punished? Are they even exposed? There's no real pay-off there. (As a side note, why, WHY are NASA and air force guys always chewing gum in films?)
Final complaint, I promise. Why does Hollywood insist on bending the laws of physics and creating sound in space? Can't they find a creative way to deal with this? Let us concentrate on the silence of space for a change or allow us to listen to the film's score. With a film like Star Wars, sound in space is forgivable because the story is a fantasy. Here, we have a film that pretends to be based around scientific facts.
Donald Sutherland does an excellent job, thanks to his fine acting skills and the humorous dialogue in the script. There are some genuinely smart, funny moments in the film, but I'm afraid it just doesn't make a good film. I suppose the purpose was to create just a fun, entertaining film without anything substance. If you like those kinds of films, you'll probably really like this one. I haven't seen Armageddon, but if people consider this film to be significantly better, then I must NEVER see Armageddon!