Armageddon Time (2022) #BIFF2022

Set in the 1980s in Flushing, Queens, we are introduced to Paul (Banks Repeta), who is in the 6th grade at a Public School. We see Paul’s classroom, his fellow peers and a teacher filled with frustration trying to get a well-focused classroom. Paul enjoys being somewhat disruptive and is consistently distracted as he wants to draw pictures on a notepad instead of focusing in class. We also understand that Paul isn’t the only one who enjoys causing moments of trouble, as Johnny (Jaylin Webb) also enjoys talking back to his teacher and being disruptive.

On the same day in school, Paul and Johnny are both punished by not being able to attend a sports class. Instead, they are forced to stay back in their classroom, allowing them to talk further. Soon, a new friendship is developed, and Paul begins to make new self-discoveries, including wanting to pursue a career as an artist. Paul lives with his parents, Esther (Anne Hathaway) and Irving (Jeremy Strong), and will often spend quality time with his grandfather Aaron (Anthony Hopkins). For Paul, the only rock in his life that ever brings him any form of peace is his grandfather. As time goes on, we see that achieving the ultimate American dream in the future will be challenging for Johnny and Paul.

(L to R) Michael Banks Repeta stars as Paul Graff and Jaylin Webb stars as Johnny Crocker in director James Gray’s ARMAGEDDON TIME, a Focus Features release. Courtesy of Anne Joyce/Focus Features

Armageddon Time is a drama film Directed by James Gray. Thanks to Gray’s introduction at the start of the film, we learn this story is based on his various experiences growing up. As a result, this film feels somewhat like a memoir. There are many themes and topics throughout, including acceptance, pressure, racism, loss, politics and class structure. While both young Paul and Johnny show us these themes, we find out the most from Paul. Some examples include the knockback Paul receives when he proudly announces his dreams to his family, and his being looked poorly upon for attending a public school instead of a private school.  

(L to R) Anne Hathaway stars as Esther Graff and Anthony Hopkins stars as Grandpa Aaron Rabinowitz in director James Gray’s ARMAGEDDON TIME, a Focus Features release. Courtesy of Anne Joyce/Focus Features

I truly admired the visuals of this film. The general look and feel of the 1980s is alive, and everything on the screen is highly convincing, including the musical scores we hear throughout. While the visuals are impressive, the biggest highlight is the performance of Anthony Hopkins. He is an immense delight and brings a stunning presence whenever his character appears. Actress Anne Hathaway delivers another fabulous yet somewhat familiar performance to the screen, and Jeremy Strong, granted, has gripping and unsettling moments. Jaylin Webb as Johnny is fantastic, and Banks Repeta as Paul is great for the vast majority.

(L to R) Anne Hathaway stars as Esther Graff and Jeremy Strong stars as Irving Graff in director James Gray’s ARMAGEDDON TIME, a Focus Features release. Courtesy of Anne Joyce/Focus Features

It’s a bit hard to accept that either one of these leads looks or sounds like a grade-six boy, and the themes and topics don’t seem strongly enough presented to deliver a profound impact upon my first watch. Granted, a few moments impacted me deeply, including one scene involving a personal conversation between Paul and his grandfather at a local park. While I enjoyed the film, as the credits rolled, I just felt as though I had watched a story and was not emotionally impacted by the entire experience. It’s unlikely that I would ever wish to go back and relive the journey. I’m confident this film will touch the hearts and minds of some audiences, but the impact will vary from viewer to viewer. It just didn’t resonate as strongly with me, especially the final moments, which felt vague and open.

(L to R) Michael Banks Repeta stars as Paul Graff and Anthony Hopkins stars as Grandpa Aaron Rabinowitz in director James Gray’s ARMAGEDDON TIME, a Focus Features release. Courtesy of Anne Joyce / Focus Features

Overall, based on the personal experiences of Director James Gray, this film successfully tackles many themes and topics, including acceptance, pressure, racism, loss, politics, and class. The biggest standout here is Anthony Hopkins, who is genuinely an immense delight whenever he appears and speaks. Anne Hathaway is also great but brings something more familiar. Visually, viewers are transported back to a convincing period of the 1980s to witness the challenges of achieving the American dream. However, with so many themes packed into this feature, I’m saddened to say how little impact I felt upon my first watch. Granted, I’m confident many will have their hearts impacted, but this will generally vary among its viewers. I’m thankful for the experience and journey this film takes me on, but I wouldn’t be in a big hurry to revisit it. Armageddon Time (2022) is Available in Australian Cinemas from November 2nd!

6.6/10

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

29th October 2022
Written by Peter Walkden

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It's one of the biggest events of the year.  No, it's not Christmas time; no, not Halloween season- it's something far bigger than anyone can comprehend.  It's Black Friday!  The film focuses on a popular toy store during the epic sale day.  As the...

The Seed (2021)

Three best friends, Charlotte (Chelsa Edge), Heather (Sophie Vavasseur) & Deidre (Lucy Martin), travel to a luxury home in California, hoping to witness a rare once in a lifetime meteor show.  Upon arriving at their destination, it's fairly evident that...

Deadlock (2021)

Set in Georgia, the film begins with a police raid gone wrong.  The results of these errors cost the lives of several young people.  The film then jumps to Mack (Patrick Muldoon), an ex-military man who wakes up from what seems to be a hangover.  Mack...

The Odd Couple (1968)

Set in New York, The Odd Couple follows two friends.  Felix (Jack Lemmon) is a writer for a news network but has a broken heart as he’s going through the early stages of divorce.  His friend, Oscar (Walter Matthau), is a passionate sports journalist....

The Batman (2022)

During his second year of fighting crime as the Caped Crusader, Batman (Robert Pattinson) discovers dark details relating to corruption.  But corruption isn't the only major threat for The Batman.  Lurking around Gotham City is a creepy serial killer who...

American Siege (2021)

Set in a rural town in Georgia, American Siege follows several characters, including three young adults who decide to break into the home of a wealthy doctor and hold him hostage.  These young men believe that the doctor holds answers to questions they...

Return of the Pink Panther (1975)

A new case, same diamond!  When the priceless jewel, The Pink Panther, is stolen from a high-tech national museum, only one man can solve the crime.  Returning once again is Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Peter Sellers), but unfortunately, the Inspector has...

Studio 666 (2022)

In the present day, the famous band, Foo Fighters, are struggling to put their long-awaited tenth album together.  With desires to do something different and radical, the band’s lead, Dave Grohl, suggests they should record an album somewhere that sounds...

Jurassic Hunt (2021)

Have you ever wanted to hunt and kill a dinosaur in the wilderness?  Well, thanks to modern technology, the ultimate hunt is now available at a high price.  Those with the right skills and who are rich enough can be dropped into the wilderness to hunt...

Hive (2021)

Fahrije (Yllka Gashi) is dealing with several challenges each day.  Firstly Fahrije is concerned for her husband, who has been missing since the war in Kosovo.  She questions each day if he is alive somewhere, or worse, dead.  She desperately attempts...

Aline (2020)

Aline Dieu comes from a large family- by large, I mean she is the youngest of fourteen children.  Growing up, Aline discovers she has a wonderful singing voice and performs at selected family events.  Thanks to the support of her mother and family, Aline is...

Uncharted (2022)

Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) is a young man who works at a bar and has many skills, including understanding too much about history and being a general thief.  One night while working, Nathan is approached by a stranger named Victor Sullivan, also known as Sully...

A Stitch in Time (2022)

Liebe (Maggie Blinco) is an old woman who spends her days around the home or supporting her husband Duncan (Glenn Shorrock), who works as a singer at a local pub in NSW, Australia.  But when Liebe’s husband is fired, tensions in their relationship grow. ...

Drive My Car (2021)

Yusuke Kafuku (Hidetoshi Nishijima) is a professional stage actor and director.  The film opens with a deep look at Yusuke’s life, showing us his marriage and just how talented and committed he is to acting and performing.  His wife also enjoys dabbling in...

Crash (1996)

James (James Spader) is a man who works in the film industry as a TV director. James and his wife Catherine (Deborah Kara Unger) enjoy having wild and open relationships, which they often reveal to each other.  One day, while James is driving, he becomes...

Marry Me (2022)

It’s the biggest wedding event ever!  Music icons, Kat (Jennifer Lopez) and Bastian (Maluma) are planning to get married and launch their newest song, “Marry Me”, on a concert stage, an event which will be live-streamed to millions of viewers around the entire...

Blacklight (2022)

Travis Black (Liam Neeson) is a government FBI agent who works off the book and keeps his work under the radar.  He's the man you call when fellow FBI agents fall off the rails or require a desperate rescue.  Travis also lives alone, but he desires to...

Eddie Beyrouthy – Beyond the Wasteland (2021)

Walkden Entertainment (aka Peter Walkden) had the honour and pleasure of chatting with #EddieBeyrouthy who is the director, writer and producer of the upcoming Australian Documentary film #BeyondTheWasteland (2021). This film will be available exclusively in selected...

Beyond the Wastleand (2021)

Most movie lovers are familiar with the cinematic legend of Mad Max, which began with its first feature back in 1979, followed up by two more film instalments.  To this day, the franchise is classed as one of the greatest Australian film series ever made. ...

Moonfall (2022)

After a routine space mission goes wrong, Astronaut Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson) is stood down from active duty.  He claims that while he was in space, he witnessed something out of the ordinary, but sadly, there were no witnesses to this experience.  His...

Body Parts (1991)

Bill (Jeff Fahey) is a professional criminal psychologist with a passion and desire to understand better what makes a criminal commit horrific crimes.  Bill is also attempting to write a book but is struggling.  He even feels like he is failing to get...

India Sweets and Spices (2021)

After finishing another year at College, Alia (Sophia Ali) is home for summer with hopes of relaxing.  As Alia attempts to settle back in and reconnect with various family members and friends, she discovers a few major secrets about her parents and that elements...

Mike Manning – Slapface (2021)

Walkden Entertainment (aka Peter Walkden) had the honour and pleasure of chatting with #MikeManning, the actor and producer of the upcoming #Shudder Exclusive #Slapface (2021). Available from February 3rd! https://youtu.be/4vpkjjBEjns 31st January 2022 Presented by...

Slapface (2022)

Lucas (August Maturo) is a young boy trying to deal with the loss of his mother.  Often in trouble with the law, Lucas has been given multiple stern warnings by the local Sheriff (Dan Hedaya).  Lucas lives with his older brother, Tom (Mike Manning), but...

Reunion (2020)

A heavily pregnant young woman, Ellie (Emma Draper), returns to the family home after the death of her grandparents. Hoping to get stuck into some work on her new book (relating to all things black magic and the occult) she is sorely mistaken as she deals with her...

One Last Dance (2003)

After the death of a dance teacher occurs, a well-known dance company located in New York will soon be too broke to open its doors and will be forced to close.  The death of the dance instructor encourages a reunion of past dancers, Travis (Patrick Swayze),...

Parallel Mothers (2021)

Janis (Penelope Cruz) is a skilled fashion photographer.  While working, she meets Arturo (Israel Elejalde), who wins her heart after a few dates.  After several secretive meetings with Arturo, Janis' life changes dramatically when she falls pregnant and...

The Hating Game (2021)

Based on the popular book of the same name, The Hating Game introduces us to Lucy Hutton (Lucy Hale), who works for a book publishing company.  After a recent merger with another company, Lucy has been forced to share a large office with a co-worker, their desks...

Belle (2021)

The film follows a young 17-year-old high school girl named Suzu.  Suzu’s mother has passed away, and she feels sad and lost inside with each day that passes. While attending school, Suzu feels like a nobody and notices those who are more popular and successful...

Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street (2021)

Street Gang: How we Got to Sesame Street begins with a look back in time.  The year is 1981, and we are in New York City behind the scenes on the set of Sesame Street.  More than twelve million American children watch what goes on in Sesame Street on an...

Spencer (2022)

Set in 1991, Spencer follows Diana during her stay with the Royal Family at the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, England.  As the film opens, we gain a great understanding of Diana, including her general thoughts relating to the family and her current challenges in...

Gold (2022)

The world has changed dramatically in the near future and is now a desert-like wasteland.  We are introduced to a man with no name (Zac Efron) who is seeking work at a compound.  The duties that he will carry out are vague, but we understand the stranger...

Edoardo Vitaletti – The Last Thing Mary Saw (2021)

Walkden Entertainment (aka Peter Walkden) had the honour and pleasure of chatting with #EdoardoVitaletti, the director and writer of #TheLastThingMarySaw (2021). This film is available exclusively on #Shudder from January 20th! https://youtu.be/Za2vgLhb2vk 17th...

The Last Thing Mary Saw (2021)

Set in Southold, New York, in 1843 during winter, the film begins with the interrogation of a woman named Maiden Mary (Stefanie Scott).  Several mysterious deaths have occurred, including her grandmother at their family farm. Maiden Mary is blindfolded during the...