Deep Impact (1998) / Thriller-Sci Fi

MPAA Rated: PG-13 for intense disaster related elements and brief language
Running Time: 120 min.

Cast: Robert Duvall, Tea Leoni, Morgan Freeman, Elijah Wood, Vanessa Redgrave
Director: Mimi Leder
Screenplay: Bruce Joel Rubin, Michael Tolkin

Review published November 7, 1998

Note to Hollywood: would you PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE stop bombarding us with the same old "Earth is about to be destroyed so please watch two hours of people hugging and crying because they're all going to die" films? After watching Independence Day, Volcano, Titanic, and countless other films in recent years with inevitably tragic endings and glorious special effects, I am having a chronic yawning fit watching the latest crop of flicks. Deep Impact continues the trend with more monotony of the same order.

After a large comet is found to be headed toward Earth, the US and Russian space agencies concoct a plan to save humanity by nuking the comet and changing it's trajectory. Things don't exactly proceed according to plan, and the comet breaks into two pieces both headed toward Earth, with the results being the possible extermination of all life on the planet.

Curiously, with all of the subplots involving families and the potential destruction of life as we know it, the film is shallow in its emotional impact, contrary to the name of the film. There are a few scenes that are very well done, mostly the space mission and the political aspects involved with the president and his potentially final message to the country, but there are enough sappy and schmaltzy scenes to make one cringe in embarrassment.

With the exception of Freeman (Hard Rain) and Duvall (The Gingerbread Man), both of whom are excellent as usual, the rest of the cast are lightweight NBC television stars, and the director (Leder, Pay It Forward) handles the film as if it were an episode of "ER", which she was a director of for a season. There's a lot of disbelief to suspend to make this film work, with no example more striking than the fact that they expect us to believe that a fledgling cable-only station like MSNBC is what the nation watches in its' time of ultimate crisis. A passable entertainment, but I'd rather have passed altogether.

Qwipster's rating:

1998 Vince Leo