Deep Impact (1998)
Directed by Mimi Leder • Written by Bruce Joel Rubin and Michael Tolkin.
With Robert Duvall, Tea Leoni, Elijah Wood, James Cromwell and Morgan Freeman.
1998 was the year of the killer comet face-off. In one corner, weighing heavily on cheese and the usual sunny delight orange glow – Michael Bay’s wince-fest, Armageddon. In the other corner, and every bit as cheese-laden, Mimi Leder’s character led offering, Deep Impact.
To begin, it’s easier to glance at the positives. Morgan Freeman plays the US President and the visual effects, while not earth shattering, (they literally are) represent the higher end of late 1990’s computer-generated animation. So yeah…
Where it suffers, is how it insists on neglecting the impending disaster and focusing on what feels like a made-for-TV family soap opera between lead character Tea Leoni and her divorced parents. In a film that’s partly about cherishing time, ironically, it’s a frustrating experience that leaves us feeling robbed of that very thing.
More attention to the behind-the-scenes whispers in Washington, or a stronger focus on the scientific reverberations would have made for a better film, yet Leder prefers to point us in the direction of achingly drawn out, threadbare drama, which is nowhere near as interesting as what’s happening in the background. When the end spectacle arrives, it feels like too little, too late.
So, the winner of the 1998 disaster movie face-off? I’d have to say Armageddon on points, which is a shame to have to say, as it aims lower than Deep Impact. 2/5