Perceived by many as a thinking woman's Armageddon, Deep Impact tells a similar story to its bigger brother - (bigger at least as far as box office returns are concerned) - there's a huge object hurtling through space... and it's on a collision course with our home planet. So, there's the problem... how does the human race - and in particular the American population - deal with an alien invader capable of wiping out a rather large percentage of Earth's population? The answer? Simple... blow it up of course!
Comparisons with the aforementioned Bruce Willis/Ben Affleck vehicle are inevitable, but I think the idea that Deep Impact holds a cerebrally based story is a little misleading. Yes, it may offer more brain stimulation than its gung ho, all out action film cousin... but Deep Impact deals with the E.L.E. - Extinction Level Event - possibility in fairly simplistic ways; first off, let's send a rocket with a few Astronauts/Cosmonauts to the comet and leave a few nukes to do their thing. Stick a million people in underground caves... and hope for the best. And that's about it! Doesn't really seem so intellectually based anymore, does it?!
It's all a little too schmaltzy for a movie with pretensions of seriousness - right from the very beginning, when the first scientist realises that a comet is heading our way, how does he react? He drops his pizza and... panics! Why does he rush off to inform the authorities and not simply wait for his server to reconnect... or, better still, simply make a phone call from the observatory? And why is the President of the United States, played very well by the ever-dependable Morgan Freeman, a black man? I can only think that it's an effort by the filmmakers to encourage us to believe that what's being depicted on screen can't really happen now... some time in the future - perhaps, but not now.
So, Deep Impact does not harbour a real intellectual story, (unless of course you only compare it to Armageddon!), but that doesn't make it a bad movie... it's actually pretty decent. Yes, it's Hollywood mush... but it's enjoyable mush, with a decent cast - Morgan Freeman, Robert Duvall, Tea Leoni, Vanessa Redgrave, Maximilian Schell and Elijah Wood - and special effects that may look a little dated by today's standards, but are pretty decent for a movie of 1998 vintage. I quite enjoyed watching the world almost coming to an end... again!
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