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Deep Impact

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Deep Impact

Starring: Tea Leoni, Robert Duvall
Director: Mimi Leder
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 125 Minutes
Release Date: May 1998
Genres: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action, Drama

Review by Walter Frith
3 stars out of 4

Does anyone remember a movie from 1979 entitled 'Meteor'? It starred Sean Connery, Natalie Wood, Karl Malden and Brian Keith and the premise was a giant meteor 5 miles wide that was going to strike Earth. The United States and the Soviet Union worked together in firing their nuclear weapons at it in the hopes that it would be destroyed. Throughout the course of the picture, splinters of the meteor were seen from time to time, landing on different parts of our planet before the big strike. The film lacked any type of depth. It basically had very little intrepid dialogue detailing the effects of such an event and it felt very out of place in the realm of science. Of course, it was 19 years ago and progress has been made in the detection of such a phenomenon since that time and I was impressed with most of 'Deep Impact'.

Director Mimi Leder ('The Peacemaker') and writer Bruce Joel Rubin ('Ghost', 'Jacob's Ladder', 'My Life',) along with fellow writer Michael Tolkin ('The Player'), have crafted a very special film that seems disjointed at first but later becomes a truly worthy film that plays at the very heart of a potentially emotional situation.

A comet the size of New York City is on a direct collision course with Earth. This information comes to the attention of a reporter (Tea Leoni), who, believe it or not, begins tracking the story as she believes it is about a politician and his mistress. Sound bizarre? After seeing the film, it all makes sense. Her efforts to report the story are thwarted by the FBI, working closely with a liaison to the U.S. President (Morgan Freeman) and the President himself is directly involved. Leoni is run off the road by a fleet of cars and the FBI agents take her for a direct one on one conversation with the President. There is still a misunderstanding about who believes what, and the President makes a deal with her that if she holds off on reporting the story for a couple of days, that she will be given access to a Presidential White House conference and will be allowed the first question.

The President reveals the truth about the comet and announces the government's plans on how to handle it. The U.S. and Russia are working together on the largest space ship ever constructed to approach, land and plant nuclear missiles on the comet at its core. The mission is led by an ex-Apollo astronaut nicknamed Fish (Robert Duvall). He was one of the men who walked on the moon and is the ideal candidate for the mission, along with several others by his side. There are also plans to shield part of the population away underground until the catastrophe is over. Explaining things any further would basically give too much of the movie away so I now zip my lip.

'Deep Impact' is told from the perspective of many different characters, so young, some old, some in-between and while many of the scenes are scatter shot, the film's overall presentation is unique. It gives way to emotion with some characters you'll care about and others you'll care less for but the special effects are truly dazzling in showcasing the effects of a comet impacting with Earth, giving way to a chain reaction of 1000 to 3500 foot tidal waves, earthquakes and other natural disasters complete with a booming soundtrack and a nice music score from Oscar winner James Horner ('Titanic'). The movie had me in the palm of its hand at the end while I was asking myself..."Could this really happen"? After some research, I found out that the answer is 'yes' and it made the film that much more significant for me in contrast to the usual bad science found in many adventures related to it.

Other notable members of the cast are Elijah Wood, Vanessa Redgrave, Maximilian Schell, James Cromwell and Mary McCormack.

Copyright 2000 Walter Frith

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