The strained thespian abilities are most evident in any of the moments that are supposed to be heartfelt and/or sentimental.
Had they not been so dramatically manipulative (and the polar opposite of the similarly forced action scenes), such scenes may have worked, but they're so poorly executed and unmoving that some preview audiences have erupted into laughter during them.
They also showcase New York City being pummeled once again -- the third time this summer after "Impact" and "Godzilla." This film's 0 million plus budget is clearly evident up on the screen, and Bruckheimer and Bay certainly got their money's worth from cinematographer John Schwartzman ("The Rock") and editor Glen Scantlebury ("Con Air") as the camera's almost always in motion and the cuts are fast and furious.
Less effective are the many music video moments that appear early in the film, and when a tune by Aerosmith starts playing (while Affleck and Tyler commingle), I kept expecting Alicia Silverstone (an Aerosmith video regular from several years back) to show up and join them at any moment.
Bruce Willis (star of the "Die Hard" movies) is as appealing as usual in his action hero role (meaning he's larger than life, but resides in a tough, blue collar persona), but not quite as much fun as his similarly constructed John Mc Clane character (maybe this should have been "Die Hard 4: Die! Peter Stormare ("Fargo") is also enjoyable as the weary and wayward cosmonaut, while Billy Bob Thornton ("Sling Blade") is good, but not outstanding as the NASA director (a role that will never be better than what Ed Harris cemented in "Apollo 13").
Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler round out the big names and are present mainly to look handsome and pretty (which they easily accomplish), but they're completely underused.
Even so, Harry realizes he has to go and save the world and agrees to do what he can.
Thus, he and team -- which includes Frost; his best friend, Chick Chapple (WILL PATTON); a squirrelly geologist, Rockhound (STEVE BUSCEMI); big man Max Lennert (KEN CAMPBELL); and an odd assortment of other characters train for their dangerous mission.
Continually delivering the "bang" that "Deep Impact" held back until the very end, the scenes and effects here are far more impressive.
From that point on, the assembled team races toward the asteroid.
Encountering various obstacles and bureaucratic blunders back on Earth, Harry and his team race against time to drill eight hundred feet into the rock, plant the nuke, and blast off before the asteroid plummets into the Earth, completely destroying it in a fiery Armageddon.
Since that seems to be the "magic" ingredient in successful, big budget summer films, this one should fare better -- despite it making "Impact" seem like a model of realistic reaction to the world's impending doom.
The old tag line for the original "Alien" movie stated that "In space, no one can hear you scream." That's true, of course, unless you forgot to turn your brain off before seeing this movie -- in which case the cerebral pain may be so unbearable that you'll wish you had visited the lobotomy shop beforehand.