Armageddon is promised in film after film, teased in marketing campaigns, salivated after by destructo-porn aficionados — but never comes. Call it destructus interruptus. The End of the World has only been delivered in one movie.
Disaster films offer it up like a bride's dowry: If you come see this movie, we'll show you the End of the World. But they never really do, do they? We get the Irreversible Change of the World all the time: The Day After Tomorrow gave us an ice age, The Road Warrior saw a petrol-free blacktop-mutant jamboree, 2012 all but cracked the planet in two, while Waterworld covered it in H2O. Zombie films are all about the genie that can't be put back in the bottle.
And that's not even taking into account those films which bring us to the brink of Irreversible Change, but then back off. Pretty much every alien invasion flick falls into that category: War of the Worlds, Independence Day, Men in Black, The Day the Earth Stood Still, et cetera, et cetera. Come to think of it, so do Resistance films: The Matrix trilogy, the Planet of the Apes saga, and the Terminator films are all about mankind trying to reclaim a damaged world — one of their own devising — back from an occupying force.
But in all of those scenarios, the world is still here. Life goes on. There's still a place for our heroes to fight and, more often than not, a threat that can actually be stopped. I'll give Roland Emmerich credit for, at the very least, committing to his brand of disaster: there's no stopping the cold or the calendar from fucking everything up. And J.J. Abrams' Star Trek gets some brownie points for, at least, destroying Vulcan. He blew up a planet, just not the planet.
For my money, only one film has carried out its threat to destroy the entire planet and leave no trace: The Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy. If you'll remember, Earth is in the way of some intergalactic highway, just as the humble home of Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) is in the way of some overpass. And when Arthur follows Ford Prefect (Mos Def) offworld, both his house and his world get destroyed in the blink of an eye.
I guess, at the end of the day, we don't want to see the Big Blue Marble blown into atoms (or else Hitchhiker's might've fared better at the box office). Which is fine. But I do wish that Hollywood would stop teasing me with something they'll never deliver.