Archive Review: Deep Impact (1998)

The nineties gave us some awesome disaster movies, and while this may not be one of my favourites, will it still hit that ‘guilty pleasure’ sweet spot?

Certificate: 12

Director: Mimi Leder

Screenwriter: Bruce Joel Rubin, Michael Tolkin

Starring: Robert Duvall, Téa Leoni, Elijah Wood

Genre: Action Drama

Runtime: 120 Minutes

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

Journalist Jenny Lerner is assigned to look into the background of Secretary Alan Rittenhouse who abruptly resigned from government citing his wife’s ill health. She learns from his secretary that Rittenhouse was having an affair with someone named Ellie but when she confronts him, his strange reaction leads her to reconsider her story. In fact, a comet, discovered the previous year by high school student Leo Biederman and astronomer Dr. Marcus Wolf, is on a collision course with the Earth, an Extinction Level Event. A joint US-Russian team is sent to destroy the comet but should it fail, special measures are to be put in place to secure the future of mankind. As the space mission progresses, many individuals deal with their fears and ponder their future. – From IMDB

There were definitely some dubious plot leaps made here in order to get Tea Leoni’s character in the centre of the action.  There were a million and one better ways for her character, as a reporter, to find out about the E.L.E (Extinction Level Event) program.  Why they had to start it off in the most stupid, gossip column-y way I have no idea.  And in what universe, does the president of the US change his entire plan around the actions of one journalist, and meet with her in private to discuss these matters?  Once the ball gets rolling, and we are dealing with the impending doom of everyone on planet earth, it’s a fairly great movie, but getting us there was painful.

Similarly, so was the pitiful storyline they gave to Elijah Wood’s character to keep him in the story. At the beginning is was super important to the discovery of the comet, but after that, he was relegated to a below average romance storyline that was just so ridiculous the film could have well and truly have done without it.

This is very much a disaster movie all about the build up, and about people coming to terms with their fates.  There isn’t a lot of the normal, disastrous events happening throughout.  Most of the rough stuff happens towards the very end of the film.  I guess they were limited by the technology that they had in the nineties, being unable to produce the big green screen effects that we can now in films like 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow.  So really this is a film about the relationships between people, and I don’t think a lot of the characters were developed enough to make this an interesting enough plot for the film.  The astronauts were the most interesting group of people, and we don’t’ spend nearly enough time with them.

Slow on plot and shallow on characters, this one will not be making it into my list of favourite disaster movies.

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