movie film review | chris tookey

Deep Impact

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  Deep Impact Review
Tookey's Rating
6 /10
Average Rating
5.29 /10
Spurgeon Tanner ........ Robert Duvall, Jenny Lerner ........... Tea Leoni, President Beck ......... Morgan Freeman
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Directed by: Mimi Leder
Written by: Michael Tolkin and Bruce Joel Rubin

Released: 1998
Origin: US
Length: 120


A gigantic comet, the size of Mount Everest, is about to hit Earth and send humanity the way of the dinosaurs. According to the US President (Morgan Freeman, impressively grave), there are two lines of defence. The largest spaceship ever built (captain: Robert Duvall), unpretentiously named The Messiah, must land on the comet, bury nuclear bombs deep within it, and blow it off course. If that fails, nuclear missiles are to be launched from Earth. If that fails, hundreds of thousands will be selected to survive underground for two years until Earth becomes habitable again.

Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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As the writers Bruce Joel Rubin (Ghost) and Michael Tolkin (The Player) see it, there are two human stories also going on. First, there’s the enterprising TV reporter (Tea Leoni) who stumbles across the story and forces the President to go public. She has professional problems with a jealous, older female rival (Laura Innes) and personal problems with her father (Maximilian Schell) who has abandoned his wife (Vanessa Redgrave) and married a bimbo.

Then there’s the teenager (Elijah Wood) who becomes a celebrity by discovering the comet but is forced to choose between survival underground and risking death alongside the teenager he loves (Leelee Sobieski).
The first of 1998's Summer blockbusters had as its executive producer some chap called Steven Spielberg, and started from an intriguing premise, but neither personal story is all that gripping; and the film-makers might have been better advised to concentrate on the action and spectacle (which it manages rather well).
The movie has the wit to raise the question of how most of the world’s population would behave if we thought we had only days to live, but not the courage to give unpalatable answers.
All the same, the film-makers attempt to deepen Deep Impact is rather endearing.
Europeans may baulk at finding their own grisly fate dismissed in a casual sentence, and a sense of humour is equally noticeable by its absence.
Despite the platitudes and the schmaltz, the film does strive for emotion, and captures some stirring truths about heroism and self-sacrifice.
“It’s not a video game, son,” Robert Duvall explains patiently to one of his crew; and maybe that has to be explained to some younger movie fans (and film-makers) as well.
It’s good to see a woman making - and trying to humanise - action movies. This is a creditable second feature by director Mimi Leder, whose first, The Peacemaker, didn’t measure up to her TV work on E.R. and L.A. Law. Here, she succeeds in creating moments of Spielbergian awe. The first close-up shot of the comet is terrific, as is the landing upon it.
The literally earth-shattering climax has special effects impressive enough to send any sensation-seeker away happy.

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