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Deep Impact (1998) – Movie Review

Deep Impact movie poster

Written by: Bruce Joel Rubin & Michael Tolkin
Directed by: Mimi Leder
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Robert Duvall, Tea Leoni, Elijah Wood, Vanessa Redgrave

My Advice: Matinee.

Still waiting for a film to satisfy the way you thought it ought to have? Yeah, me too. This was my number one film to look forward to this year, but alas. Synopsis: Big rock heading toward earth. Death. Destruction. Dogs and cats, etc. So let’s talk about what the film does have going for it. First and foremost, it has Bruce Joel Rubin, the man who brought us Jacob’s Ladder, a classic. It’s he and Tolkin that are responsible for pushing this over the top and making it a slightly above average film. It’s the concept more than anything else–the idea of humanity trying to deal with its own extinction, and the choices that must be made, sometimes in a matter of seconds, that decide the fate of sometimes just a family, sometimes millions of people. Unfortunately, I smell cutting and rewrites that crippled what could have been a great film.

[ad#longpost] favorites Duvall and Redgrave give some of that humanity life, but fellow favorite Freeman is there only to give speeches and tell the world they’re screwed. Granted, he makes monologues of doom work–but I wanted more for him to do. He is, after all, the President of the US. Elijah Wood delivers a one-note performance and Tea Leoni does fairly well as a celebrity in the wake of the coming crisis. Other cast members (and there’s a lot of them–thank Irwin Allen) include a bunch of forgettable people on the spaceship sent to intercept, a couple of forgettable family members, a forgettable astronomer who dies in 1998’s most stupid and contrived scene so far, and a bunch of others that I’ve already since forgotten.

Although the FX are good, they’re too reminiscent of ID4 to be extremely effective. My two major problems, which made the film such a disappointment, were first that the humanity mentioned above provided by Rubin and Tolkin is only effective in moments, vignettes–a couple stare into each other’s eyes as the wave comes down on them. That type of thing. In some other cases, the audience is bludgeoned with it–as in a scene between the rescuing spaceship’s crew and their respective families. Oceans rise, cities fall, subtlety dies. The second problem is that the film feels like it should have run for another hour. When the resolution occurs, it is far too neat and unsatisfying considering what we (the audience) have been through to get to it. I can’t wait to read the original, uncut screenplay. Maybe then I’ll find the movie I was expecting.

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