Deep Impact (1998)

Deep Impact (1998), directed by Mimi Leder.


Well, look on the bright side. We'll all have high schools named after us.

I remembered very little about this except that it was Armageddon (1998) without the jokes (same year!), the one with Morgan Freeman as the President.

With a rewatch I think it is pretty good, especially the initial SF plot development done as a political thriller. Written SF has many examples of this and the rich production values of the film make it believable.

They consulted experts to try to get the science right, with a little lee-way. The only detail that bugs me is that in movies whenever a spacecraft fires its engines it jets away like a skyrocket. Even Apollo 13 (1995) had that. In space, slow and steady wins the race. Acceleration is like compound interest; it accumulates.

The space, comet and East Coast catastrophe scenes are well done. That's another plus for the film: the Earth does not escape unscathed. When the water recedes the World Trade Center towers are still there, though leaning.

Human interest anguish in the face of an Extinction Level Event certainly belongs in this story, but for some reason the second half of the film goes slack for me, until the final climax. It has good moments, but also scenes of exploitation tear-jerking.

Many familiar faces, with Elijah Wood and Leelee Sobieski as the science geek teen lovers. (That's a big well-equipped astronomy club!)

Parallels with Armageddon (1998): both films have a space station, a Russian member, drilling on the comet, a stuck drill that causes lots of problems, a crewman blown into space, and salvation of the Earth at the very last instant requiring heroic self-sacrifice.

Perhaps you could do a mashup of the two films, where Bruce Willis and his roughneck oil drillers are the secret B team on the other side of comet, racing against the same clock. Only Billy Bob Thornton and Morgan Freeman know the truth...

James Horner score.

Available on Blu-ray with a rather good image. The director and visual effect supervisor provide a commentary track. They are pretty happy with it, although Leder sees a lot of things she would adjust, maybe just through cuts or other edits.