Deep Impact

Released: May 8, 1998
Budget: $80 million
US Box Office: $140 million
Global Box Office: $349 million

Director: Mimi Leder
Cast: Robert Duvall, Tea Leoni, Elijah Wood,Vanessa Redgrave, Morgan Freeman, Jason Lerner, James Cromwell, Leelee Sobieski

Synopsis: A team of astronauts tries to stop a killer asteroid from hitting earth. Meanwhile, only a select few are allowed into shelters as humanity braces for impact.
Best Quote: "Look on the bright side. We'll all have high schools named after us"

Review: 2 stars

Deep Impact is a little like a model home, it looks pretty and is well staged, but a closer inspection reveals that they cut too many corners and it's not somewhere that you'd really want to stay. In plain English: Deep Impact's $80 million budget wasn't enough to make the movie the screenplay called for but Paramount and Dreamworks decided to go ahead with it anyway.

The most obvious example of cost cutting in this film comes when humanity launches all of its remaining nukes in a last ditch effort to destroy the comet headed for Earth. Right when we think we are about to see a sweet explosion, the President (Morgan Freeman) informs the American populace that the nukes already went off and the plan failed. Huh? You'll think you accidentally hit fast forward or dozed off for a moment. It's a shame because the one sequence with the tsunami that they actually decided to spend money on is very high quality.

Like the special effects, the rest of the movie is a mixed-bag. A government plan to save 1,000,000 people to help repopulate the world brings up serious ethical dilemmas with regards to who gets chosen. Instead of playing with those, the movie just tells us that a couple hundred thousand nameless, faceless doctors and engineering types have been pre-selected and the rest are chosen randomly. Perhaps it's uneven acting that just fails to convey the weight of the situation. There are some poignant moments of self-sacrifice, but the star reporter (Tea Leoni) is kind of a bitch and doesn't contribute much.

No self-respecting review of Deep Impact can finish without at least offering a brief comparison to Armageddon. The movies have identical plots and came out in the same year as direct box office competitors. While Deep Impact has a good deal of heart and is probably worth a rent, Armageddon has a more likable cast and better effects and is the clear winner of the disaster movie showdown.