March 23, 2014

Deep Impact

Mimi Leder, 1998

A comet is on a collision course with earth. If destroyed, a group of astronauts will have saved the world. If not successfully destroyed, it could be the end of life as we know it.

History hasn't been so kind to Deep Impact, and perhaps that's not right. Perhaps it hasn't gotten it's fair shake. In the world of mostly-bad big budget Hollywood blockbusters, Deep Impact is one of the better end-of-the world pictures. Pitted against Armageddon in the summer of 1998, Leder's doomsday film is worlds above Michael Bay's uninspired Aerosmith-fueled crap-fest. And by no means is this film perfect. Neil Degrasse Tyson probably throws his iPad at the screen when it's on HBO. The idea of landing a spaceship on an giant asteroid and igniting a nuclear bomb in the core of it is a bit over the top. There's some obviously bad performances (Leelee Sobieski & Elijah Wood being two of them). But if you can suspend disbelief, there is some meat on the bones. The build up of the story is done well, and never really falls off the tracks. The ongoing story threads: the government trying to minimize the destruction, the media reporting it, the general population processing the reality of what's going on, the astronauts on their mission to save the world - they all move through the film without really petering out. The idea of a lottery system in place for an emergency evacuation is actually impressively detailed and has a certain moral component to it. Jenny Lerner's conflict with her father marrying a younger woman touches on the micro part of the story. Morgan Freeman isn't bad as the first President of the United States with a tattoo. The special effects are quite solid, they even feel quite ahead of their time. Robert Duvall is good in anything you put him in. There's some accidental comedy too, like the guy reading the newspaper in Washington Square Park at a time when it makes absolutely NO sense to be reading one. There's something seductive about Deep Impact, even if it is just a guilty pleasure that has you waiting to see the big climax. But an argument can be made that there's more it than that. Such as the beautiful score playing through the end credits.


  1. I dont think Ive ever seen it. Really enjoying your writing, Robbie.... This is really good stuff keep it up.

  2. Thanks man! Feel bad I had to take a bit of a break when the baby came. They are good at disrupting any kind of routine you previously had. But yes, you should definitely see this one. There's so many shitty films in this category (The day after tomorrow, the aforementioned Armageddon, 2012) but this one certainly stands out.