STARRING: Tea Leoni, Elijah Wood, Robert Duvall, Vanessa Redgrave, Maximilian
Schell, Morgan Freeman, Leelee Sobieski, James Cromwell, Mary McCormick, Blair Underwood
1998, 121 Minutes, Directed by: Mimi Leder
A gigantic meteorite the size of New York city is on a
collision course with earth. This is so-called “Extinction
Level Event” stuff - similar to the meteorite which supposedly destroyed the
dinosaurs. Is it the End Of The World As
We Know It?
Hoping for the best, but
expecting the worst, two plans are drawn up: one to stop the meteorite before
collision and another to preserve one million people along with animals, art
treasures, etc. in underground shelters so that the human race do not become
isnt new. Weve seen and read this countless times. Its plot is also very
similar to that dreadful 1979 disaster flick Meteor. However,
unlike that and countless other disaster movies, Deep Impact is completely
different since it expects us in the audience to take it all very, very seriously.
film also obviously takes itself seriously. This isnt what we usually expect from
disaster flicks - they are meant to be the equivalent of popcorn and Coke action movies
(like Twister and Independence Day) with
last minute heroics, comical caricatures, unbelievable escapes, etc.
Oh yeah, and nothing must
happen to the family dog . . .
resolutely refuses to do this. Instead we are confronted with emotion-laden farewell
scenes. What would you do in a situation like this? it asks. To its credit,
unlike other recent films (like Sphere) Deep Impact
acknowledges that there is still some nobility left in man: we wouldn’t
necessarily act like frightened and selfish animals.
For this alone it has to be
commended. To be honest I am sick of movies telling me how evil and worthless
humanity is. It really serves no purpose since the truth is much more complex
than that: mankind is capable of both the most humane and the most horrendous
behavior there is.
"Too many tearful people being bandied around to the
accompaniment of an obtrusive soundtrack score!"
are some good bits in Deep Impact: the scenes of mass destruction at the end of
the movie are done spectacularly well and should preferably be seen on the big screen to
be appreciated. Some of the dialogue is also effective and funny. Also, the scenes
involving the astronauts on the meteorite are pure hard sci-fi stuff.
In the end the movie
reminded me of scenes from Arthur Clarkes Rendezvous with Rama and my
favorite Earth-hit-by-big-rock novel, Jerry Pournelle and Larry Nivens Lucifers
Hammer. That is the good news. The bad news is that the
movie is ultimately spoiled by excessive sentiment. In the end there are too many babies
and tearful people being bandied around to the accompaniment of an obtrusive soundtrack
score by James Horner (who had a big hit recently with his music for Titanic).
Impact also suffers from the old disaster cliché of a cast of thousands. There are
too many characters and while director Mimi (The Peacemaker) Leder keeps things
chugging along at a fast pace so that there isnt a dull or excessive moment, this
ultimately works against the movie.
Ultimately we do not really care that much for the
characters because we really do not know them that well. (However, to its credit the film
is populated by more likeable characters than, for instance, the monsters in The Lost World - and no, I'm not referring to the dinosaurs
in that movie . . .)
This may sound strange, but a
longer running time might have been in order to get to know some of the
characters better. Even though this analogy
may come back to haunt me, I have to say it: Deep Impact is a bit like The Postman. Like that film, there is a really good movie
struggling to get out from underneath all its faults. Fault number one being that terrible
soundtrack music . . .