Proof that disaster movies don’t need to be trashy, and that science fiction doesn’t have to be dumb. Here is a much more informed, intelligent, and sober take on the ‘asteroid movie’ than the same years Armageddon; and it’s 10 times more interesting because of it. It rides the wave (no pun intended) of post-Independence Day big scale disaster films, yet the story shares more similarities with Arthur C Clarke’s novel Hammer of God. Made in consultation with real science experts, it poses the question of what would happen if a killer comet were discovered to be on an intercept course with Earth. And also, what could we even do about it? Well we probably wouldn’t send Bruce Willis up there for starters…
Some stunning ILM space sequences, two strong performances from Morgan Freeman and Robert Duvall, and one hell of a pay-off ending; this utterly trumps Michael Bay’s garbage effort. It’s not for nothing that Neil Degrasse Tyson often cites Deep Impact, alongside Contact, as one of the best and most science-literate space films of the 1990s. My main criticisms are the director Mimi Leder ladles on the sentiment in rather generous helpings, and only pays lip service to potentially more interesting aspects of the story e.g. the social collapse and global panic (a longer cut would have benefitted this). She prefers instead to spend time lingering with characters as they watch teary-eyed at tv screens and monitors, while Tea Leoni (an alarmingly unprofessional news anchor) explains what's happening. It's a bit of a waste and drags the film down, but the quality elsewhere compensates. I particularly like Morgan Freeman's president speeches that punctuate the film, becoming increasinly more sombre as the hopelessness of the situation becomes clearer.
First saw this on release day and kept thinking about it afterwards. I remember shortly after being at Brighton beach, imagining a mega tsunami on the horizon. Apart from the titular impact, the best moment for me is the first rendezvous of the spaceship Messiah with comet Wolf-Biederman, and the reactions of its awestruck crew.
Interesting also to see the younger (and much thinner) Jon Faverau as Gus Partenza.