A deeply personal story about the strength of family, the complexity of friendship, and the generational pursuit of the American Dream.
Runtime: 114 minutes
Stars: Banks Repeta, Anne Hathaway, Jeremy Strong, Anthony Hopkins, Jaylin Webb, Ryan Sell, Teddy Coluca, Tovah Feldshuh, Marcia Jean Kurtz, Andrew Polk, Lauren Yaffe, Dane West, Dupree Francois Porter, Griffin Wallace Henkel, Jessica Chastain, Stephanie Groves, Marcia Haufrecht, Oona Girton-Marshall, Ian Hernandez-Oropeza, Aidan Christman, Eva Jette Putrello, Landon James Forlenza, John Dinello, Jacob Mackinnon, Jude Washock, Skyler Wenger, Psalm Mitchell, Jack Parrish, Stephanie Aguinaldo, Diamond Washington, Lauren Sharpe, Lizbeth MacKay, Domenick Lombardozzi, John Diehl, Richard Bekins
Director: James Gray
brentsbulletinboard - 10 January 2023 Anyone Know What the Filmmaker Was Going For Here? To be perfectly honest, I was at a loss to understand exactly what writer-director James Gray was going for in this coming of age story. Set in New York in 1980, the film follows the exploits of an ill-behaved Jewish sixth-grader (Banks Repeta) who shows promise as an aspiring artist but operates below his potential, particularly when he engages in largely inexplicable pranks and mischief with his African-American best friend (Jaylin Webb), much to the dismay of his parents (Anne Hathaway, Jeremy Strong). In fact, the only one who seems to be able to connect with the young man is his wise old grandfather (Anthony Hopkins), a relationship that seems implausible given the protagonist's behavioral track record. But that primary story thread is often muddled by a clumsily handled array of other plotlines and narrative themes related to racial and class privilege, parental abuse and complacency, antisemitism, and a problematic educational system, as well as occasional fantasy sequences. To make matters worse, the camera work is generally far too dark throughout the film, taking its gloomy atmospheric quality to an overwrought, heavy-handed extreme. Collectively, all of these elements are essentially designed to convey the message that "life sometimes isn't fair" (now there's a profound revelation for you), one that the filmmaker appears to be trying to tie to the picture's time frame at the onset of the Reagan Era. This combination makes for a rather disappointing, underwhelming cinematic offering, despite a trailer and marketing materials that appear to promise viewers more. In all fairness, the picture features several fine performances (most notably Hopkins, Hathaway, Webb and a brief walk-on appearance by Jessica Chastain), but the film's lead is played by a young, largely inexperienced actor who's simply not up to the part (and is often as annoying to viewers as he is to his character's parents). That uninspired portrayal undoubtedly is undermined by the film's meandering screenplay and uneven, often-half-baked character development (as seen by Strong's scattered father figure performance). Whatever the filmmaker was trying to say in this seriously unfocused tale is, sadly, likely to leave audiences as perplexed as its adolescent protagonist. Indeed, if anybody out there can clarify this for me, please let me know.
goshamorrell - 5 January 2023 A coming of Age film that every generation needs too see and understand In "Armageddon Time," people keep trying to wake up 11-year-old Paul Graff (a sensitive performance by Michael Banks Repeta). Paul is a slight, dreamy sixth grader in 1980 Queens, New York. Over the span of two months, from the first day of school until the family watches the returns of the Presidential election in November, we repeatedly see Paul in a deep sleep as various family members try to get him out of bed. His father, Irving (Jeremy Strong), dances in Paul's bedroom. His older brother Ted (Ryan Sell), jumps on his chest. His mother (Anne Hathaway) tells him to get ready for school. The sincerity and good intentions of the movie are palpable, as are its ambitions in bringing in the election of Ronald Reagan and the future prospect of Donald Trump as connected to the difficulties faced by Johnny and the challenges of being a mensch. The film creates a vivid and evocative sense of its time and place and many scenes, especially those with Repeta and Hopkins, are touching. Hathaway as the mother is affectionate, amused, and sometimes indulgent with Paul. The shift as she defends him to the principal and then once they are out of his office, when she can say what she really thinks, is one of the movie's best scenes. And she is deeply affecting when it is clear to us, if not to Paul, that she has had some very sad news. Most troubling is the script's failure to give us a fully realized, authentic character for Johnny. The movie is in large part an apology to Johnny and to all of the other kids like him who were not adequately cared for at home and who were constantly mistreated by all of the people and structures that should have been supporting them. It is heartbreaking to see Johnny insulted by his teacher and by older Black kids who scoff at him for dreaming of working for NASA. Why wouldn't he want to get as far away from this planet as he could? Webb is an affecting young performer, and he says a lot just with his eyes. His face lights up in those few moments when Johnny has a sense of hope and connection. But Johnny's character is underwritten, a collection of attributes more than a personality. He is not given the same interiority we see in other characters and that feels like just another way of letting him down.
clapfix - 4 January 2023 SERIOUSLY? Seriously boring. I showed persistence, I desperately hoped the movie would get somewhere, would move me, or at the very least piqued my interest.
In the end, these one hour and thirty minutes were a total waste of time. 1 hour and 30 minutes of my life I'll never get back. That's all I could endure. All I could take before I threw in the towel. I didn't watch it until the end. The film is too boring and dull.
Some important questions get raised about differences, racial issues, religious backgrounds... There again flatlined EEG. The coming of age backdrop is just as torpid.
I wanted for the film to be good. The cast deserved it. The uber-talented Anthony Hopkins definitely deserved better. What a let down!
As for the kid, he is as charismatic of chicory. Armageddon it is for sure, since the film is a disaster.
Horst_In_Translation - 1 January 2023 Karmageddon "Armageddon Time" is an American production in the English language, but not only USA as I just saw that this film is also a Brazilian co-production and that surprises me a lot. I did not see any indicator in the cast, plot or people who made this. At least not in terms of the director and there is also no Portuguese language in here. On one occasion, an older character uses the word "Mensch" two or three times, but I am not sure if this already passes for German language to be included here. Anyway, this film runs for almost two hours and the writer and director is James Gray, who is in his early 50s now and this movie here adds more quality to his already pretty strong body of work. Like has he made a single movie that did not get a mostly positive reception from critics and audiences? Maybe the fact that I am a bit enthusiastic when it comes to his works also has to do with how much I like Joaquin Phoenix and this actor is busy with the second Batman film right now and he did not star in this film here. But he has a long history of collaborations with Gray. Gray also did not really need him here. He could have played the character that was portrayed by Jeremy Strong maybe and this would have been the only fit age-wise I assume. But Strong did a really good job too and it is telling that he is the one receiving some awards recognition for his turn here and not one of the three Oscar winners that are also part of this film. These would be Anne Hathaway, Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Chastain. Hathaway is first credit here on imdb which definitely confuses me a bit because she was rather one of the biggest supporting players. The one and only lead here is teen actor Banks Repeta and he is also harvesting some honors from critics groups and awards bodies that have young-actor-only categories.
Anyway, Hathaway plays the main character's mother. Hopkins plays the main character's grandfather and the father of Hathaway's character and Jessica Chastain, like Hopkins a very recent Oscar winner, only has a one-scene performance in which she plays the sister of Donald Trump during her younger years and gives a speech. The Trumps being there closely connected to the better, more well-off school is also another indicator of how we are not supposed to see this school as something positive and desirable. But it is not simply all black-and-white either in the sense that we are supposed to see the original school as the place where the young man belongs. On the contrary, the one and only teacher there about whom we are getting some information is also not a good guy at all and even a bit on the racist side with how he treats the Black boy. Still, even if we are supposed to see the latter as a good kid who just got lost in the system, it must be said that this young man is not too likable either. At least from my perspective. Look at how he constantly insults his teacher, how he brings drugs to the school, even if he did not know what those were exactly and so on. Also the scene when he leaves his confused friend behind in the subway without saying anything was not too nice. I mean you can find apologies for him though like how the two Black men in the subway tell him that he will never become something great because of his color and they must know right? So it is also about lost dreams there and a kid so full of ambitions, but reality gets in the way for him. Let me emphasize again that here I am not talking about the main character, but his best friend. The main character always seems to have his head a bit in the clouds. We see that during one scene when he dreams of a painting he made and how this painting becomes part of the permanent exhibition at the Guggenheim museum. Towards the end, he also imagines his friend as an astronaut and himself as a renowned painter, but then reality strikes again and at least in terms of his friend, he could not be any more wrong. They say he will never see him again. The Black boy is maybe on the road to becoming nothing more than a career criminal. Tough times back then for non-White kids and the film is set several decades in the past.
The only aspect in this relationship between the students that I did not like too much was how the protagonist seemed to have changed a bit too quickly when he sees his friend again after a little while and barely wants to talk to him. But this was just a temporary inclusion. The shame he felt because of his new friends was not explanation enough from my perspective. Immediately afterwards, however, they are good buddies again. That felt more like it. Now I wanna talk about some the other characters, the males in particular. Anthony Hopkins' character is almost too good to be true, even when he does some swearing. The really nice and tolerant and caring grandfather. Not only is he not a racist like others his age, one female for example, but towards the end we also find out how he had no problem at all with Strong's character marrying his daughter despite the man's simple family background and he was the only one who did not mind. So Hopkins' character held the family together through kindness and when he is dead and gone eventually, then this is one explanation maybe why Strong's character says in the car near the end that he will not beat his son again and instead try to choose the path of wisdom and compassion. This was surely inspired by Hopkins' character. Things looked very different before that with what happened after the drug abuse sequence at school. Completely away from that, I also really enjoyed the music in this film. All kinds of nice inclusions, no matter if we are talking about a song sung by a father to his boy in the morning, if we are talking about the music of the band that the two boys wanna see perform or if we are talking about some familiar classic tunes being used here. Tchaikovsky was a highlight. This film is a good watch, but also a nice listen.
Now let's get back to the plot: On a few occasions, you can see the family at the center of the story follow their country's political events. It was set around the time when Ronald Reagan was elected president and they do not like him at all. So they are Democrats and not Republicans. From today's Hollywood perspective, we are supposed to see them as such kind people. They still do not want their son to be in touch with the Black kid for example, but this is not because they despise people of color, but rather because of the disadvantages that might occur for their son because other people despise people of color. This way you could summarize it. The N word is used at his school, but it is not used at his home. Or when it is, then people stand up against such a comment. Standing up against racial injustice is something that is crucial in this movie. Just take the words of Hopkins' character in his last scene. Or penultimate scene I could say if we count the one towards the end when he reappears briefly through the boy's imagination. That penultimate scene was also very much worth watching for other reasons, namely with how grandfather and son spend some quality time together there one last time and the boy launched a rocket that was a present from the old man. The way the boy screamed there with excitement and joy was quite awesome. Like you could really feel the magic it brought to the kid's life there. He got many presents from him indeed. There is another occasion that was nice and also it was funny what the boy called his grandpa there in this scene. There are also sad moments though and these involve Hathaway's character. She knows her father is getting worse and will not be around for much longer. Cancer therapy was also not even close to how far it is developed nowadays in the 2020s, but even now so many people are dying from it. So we understand that she knew he would not make it when she started bawling almost while talking to her son or how she sits there in the car when the boy and his grandfather have this rocket moment or of course it is also sad when the entire family is united with the old man in bed after surgery, even if there I still kinda expected that Hopkins' character could stay alive until the end of the film. He did not.
Nonetheless, despite these moments of tragedy, I never got too emotional watching this one I must say. It was not really a film that touched me and I found the elaboration on society almost more interesting than the characters' individual struggles. If you can keep these two apart from each other anyway. They are of course intertwined. There was also one moment involving Strong's character that stayed in the mind for me namely when he tells his son that he wants him to have a better life than his own. Nicely done. They are no bad people, the challenges for them just simply become too much at times and this results in unpleasant escalations here and there. Another problem for the protagonist is of course that he does not really have a good relationship with his older brother. There was hardly a moment of harmony between these two. That is also why he often felt so alone and struggled in making a connection with anybody and this was luckily when his new Black friend entered the picture. It was kinda funny how they became friends through massive coincidence, on the one hand with the two being punished at the same time for bad behavior, on the other hand the Black boy having to repeat a year. Otherwise, they never would have met. That is pretty much it then. I think it was an alright film, but really enthusiastic over it I am not. Seeing it once is enough and I felt as if all the others in the room of my screening thought the same. I may of course be a bit biased because of my Phoenix preference, but I'd say that Gray has done better in the past. Still I have a bit of a feeling that one of his next projects could really blow up and also result in him getting an Academy Award nomination for directing. "Armageddon Time" I give a thumbs-up.
kqueen74 - 30 December 2022 Stop making bad films About thirty minutes into this film, I thought, "These kids are losers. Why am I watching this?" I finished the film feeling the same way. It's supposed to take place in the 1980s. All we learned is that the director's family hated Ronald Reagan, that he heard a grade school classmate use the "n" word and that he saw a black friend treated unfairly. These aren't spoilers. They're a warning. Nothing much happens. Why does this guy think that his childhood is in anyway interesting to anyone but him? More importantly, why did some really great actors sign-on to a film that lacks a plot? And why did a studio sign-off on this?
This isn't The Fablemans. Nothing in this guy's life inspires him to greatness. Instead, you get the feeling that even close families who have dinner together, invest in private schooling and encourage their kids to succeed, can still end up with a kid who's a dud.
And that leaves us where exactly?
jean-pageau - 30 December 2022 Beautifully simple After two complex and less touching movies, James comes back to his NYC roots and share a part of his life in the most touching and truthful way possible. Yes it's simple and maybe not so original, but it can move you anyway. I would watch this movie like the grandfather watch his grandson in the story, with kindness and understanding. Put yourself again as child with all the strengths and weaknesses you could have at this age and you will like this movie. Thank you again James Gray. Please do another movie with Joaquin! Another film like Two Lovers or The Immigrant would be incredible. I hope you win an Oscar some day...
gangeshgnair - 21 December 2022 A sweet and nice coming of age movie A beautiful comming of age movie. The movie basically deals with the story of a boy who wants to be an artist, he has his fantasy to grow up to be a famous artist, but little does he know what the world has waiting for him in his future. The best part of the movie is it's performance (I mean just look at the cast). Banks repetta as Paul graff just stands out in between this humongus cast, even Jessica chestain gives a two minute cameo appearance. Paul really scores in the emotional moments, really amazing performance. Anthony Hopkins, anne Hathaway, jermey strong, jaylin webb all give amazing performances. The movie discusses racism, society's pressure on a child, the frustrarion of a child of not able to find expression to his creative side. I could connect to the Paul grass with many aspects of my life.
A sweet and nice coming of age movie.
Top_Dawg_Critic - 21 December 2022 This brought back some interesting memories. I grew up in NYC and went to PS 154 around the same time Banks Repeta's character did, so I can totally relate to the story. That doesn't mean it makes this film better for me. In fact. I kept thinking "so what?". This entire story is a reality that almost everyone has experienced, whatever side of the coin you're on, so it's absolutely nothing revolutionary, and for that matter, it was rather hollow and bland. It was at least 30 mins too long, and the pacing was too slow to maintain engagement with the narrative. It was all basic filler with very little substance. Nevertheless, the young actors delivered convincing performances, as did the A-listers - although we have to expect that from them. I want to say it's a decent one-time watch for a reason I can't find, so I wont. You'll basically see great performances, a great score and soundtrack, excellent cinematography, but no compelling narrative. It's a generous 6/10 from me, only because it brought back memories when I was growing up in that era and neighborhood.
fleshpixie - 18 December 2022 Lessons for those who wouldn't watch it This movie carries a very directed nostalgia and life experiences from a time that I can't see the audience who would benefit from it wanting to watch it. It's long, it's a slow burn drama, and to be honest I don't think setting the film in 1980 benefitted the message it contained whatsoever. It's rather generic and wasted efforts in this era. It's hard to hold too much interest in, some good performances from and character dynamics accordingly between Michael Banks Repeta and Anthony Hopkins as the core of this story carried the whole weight. Throw in some recognisable actors just for name value and a crutch to keep it standing up; sad.
graham-81830 - 13 December 2022 An ending would have been nice This was okay, but that's as much as I can say really.
My mate suggested going when I was visiting him. I had no idea what we were going to see, I just heard him ask for two tickets for 'Armageddon', which probably misled me about what sort of film we were going to see. So for the first half hour or so I was waiting for something to happen: an inciting moment. It never came.
That said, it was a pleasant enough watch, although it was more suited for a rainy afternoon at home, rather than a prequel to a couple of pints and a meal out.
The irony was that before we went out we had been chatting about how many films, usually random picks from Netflix that had proved bearable if not delightful, had resulted in angry shouting at the screen when the final credits seemed to appear mid story.
Armageddon Time proved to be one of those films. But on this occasion it was sort of signalled. I think we both knew it was going to happen a minute or so ahead of the event. Talk about anticlimax. Every one of the smattering of people in the cinema, like us, just stood up and walked out without a word.
ethanbresnett - 9 December 2022 A mixed bag Armageddon Time is a strange one. I enjoyed it, it has a lot to say and says it well for the most part, but it felt like something was missing.
Firstly it's worth saying the film is full of great performances, particularly Banks Repeta in the lead role. It takes a little warming up to, but he is clearly going for something very specific in his characterisation of Paul and it really does work. The supporting cast of Hopkins, Strong, and Hathaway are all very watchable, especially Hopkins who brings a great warmth to the whole piece.
The story is where things get a bit mixed. As a coming of age story it touched on some interesting themes and had some poignant points to make about race, family, and 80s America. However as an overall story it missed the mark for me. The narrative arc left a bit to be desired and I sometimes felt a bit of a disconnect from the characters and the story.
The result is a mixed film that certainly has its moments, but fails to fully draw you in and connect you with its characters.
saolivaresm - 8 December 2022 The magic of having a good cast Synopsis
A deeply personal coming-of-age story about the strength of family and the generational pursuit of the American dream.
James Gray's cinema still does not fully convince me. He is an interesting filmmaker, but I always end up wanting him to finish what he is presenting to me soon. He is a quite intense and very dedicated director, I have always given him that, which is why I am still hopeful that he will give me the definitive film as a director.
In what perhaps seems to be his most personal work, we delve into an interesting drama that as it passes turns into something rather bland that unfortunately when it reaches its highest point does not finish delivering the final blow, leaving us with the feeling that we needed to climb the last step to have a completely satisfactory film.
It is well directed again by a director who knows a lot behind the scenes, but it doesn't end up being all round thanks to the fact that the script written by himself lacks a bit of leaving his comfort zone. At first glance it seems that the film would give us something different from the director, but it remains in the good intentions and not much more than that where it falls into certain contradictions about what he wants to tell us with all this. It is graphed in large part in one of the final scenes where he ends up succumbing to the complete opposite of what he intelligently considers to be the main character of him.
With the excellent cast that Gray has at his disposal. They are the ones that allow the film to have a little more soul. Wonderful once again Anthony Hopkins giving a great performance with perhaps the most human character the movie has to offer. Along with him we can highlight Michael Banks Repeat, the young actor is capable of carrying the story of the film on his shoulders and at certain moments he manages to captivate in a great way with his interpretation.
In a cast in which Anne Hathaway, Jeremy Strong and Jessica Chastain also share the screen, it is a guarantee of what good performances we will have, however small they may be.
An interesting drama about racism, social classes, immigration and the general concept of family. It is a film in which he knows how to make the time in which it is set his own and take advantage of it to validate what he wants to tell you, that is a great point that Gray has. Now we can discuss the final result if it leaves pleasant sensations or little taste.
Beyond the fact that I am still not entirely convinced by the director, it is undeniable to highlight that he is one of the directors who always promises to have something interesting on his hands.
aburgan - 7 December 2022 An educational guide for "White Privilege"... This movie was heartbreaking, but educational in the sense that it sheds light on the difference between how society treats people of different races. I wish all Americans would watch this film to get a glimpse of this ugly stain within our society. Everyone will say that discrimination is wrong, but at the same time most still cast a blind eye to it.
After viewing this film, I can only hope that people will find some form of compassion and empathy for those who are different than them. Recognize that there are people who suffer the effects of generational discrimination and bigotry. By remaining silent to injustice, we are,all worse off.
donnamichaelbolton - 6 December 2022 Not great I wanted this to be awesome. I guess if you are looking for authenticity in cinematic detail...sure. They get the cars right and pencils for the classroom. As for the story.... I mean I am sad for the kid and even more sad for the adult he grew to be? Not really. It does expose the horrible things that parents and children do to one another. I suppose there is that but what is new about that in story telling? Perhaps I listened to more than enough self serving podcasts interviews with the author to feel sympathy for the kid amd/or especially the father. I wanted it to be more. It wasn't. The characters were unlikeable. I suppose it was a story not needed to tell.