If an asteroid was to strike Earth and only 1 million Americans can be saved, how would they be chosen? Would only the Elite class survive (seen in the 2009 disaster film ‘2012’) or would they have some sort of draft program (seen in the 2011 film ‘Contagion’)?
The 1998 film ‘Deep Impact’ attempts to provide an answer to this puzzling question, but fails to make it realistic. The film approaches this topic knowing that most of the main characters will survive. What of the 5 billion other people? Are they not as important?
Would it not be better to die with this natural attack instead of attempting to survive in underground caves? This film assumes that by living underground and surviving an attack of epic proportions, life will just smoothly transition.
In this case, the world would most like enter a post-apocalyptic state where food shortages, disease and crime would equal the loss of life from the disaster. If familiar with the 2009 film ‘The Road,’ a disaster of ‘Deep Impact’ proportions would leave the world looking something like that.
Earlier in 1998, a similar film called Armageddon was released. Although the title makes it obvious that it is another disaster flick, it does take a different approach to the subject. While Armageddon looks at a meteorite collision on a more global scale, ‘Deep Impact’ focuses on only a few characters and how it would affect their lives.
One character in particular is Leo Bierderman, played by the very young Elijah Wood. Leo was first credited with finding this New-York-City-sized meteorite. How the hell do you miss it – do these million dollar telescopes just sit and collect dust? Leo was also selected as one of the million Americans to be housed in underground caves and survive.
But of course, it is never that simple. Shallow films like this always have a snag – a loved one can’t go, there was a filing error…etc. In order to save his infant-looking girlfriend, Leo must marry her to put her name on the list of those to live. Tea Leoni plays a MSNBC reporter who, when hearing some suspicious information about a top government official resigning, thinks there is more to the story. With her digging, she uncovers information that could be the end of the world.
While watching the movie, I assumed the film will show this ‘Deep Impact’ on more of a global scope, similar to how Armageddon did, but it jumps from perspective to perspective. The film will show millions of people perish in the most terrible of ways, but then pans to the President, played by Morgan Freeman, with a big smile of his face saying we lost millions but are proud. Not to mention Elijah Wood successfully saving his preschool wife and her infant sister by climbing a small hill in Southern California. I guess the unfortunate people at the top of the 1400-foot-high empire state building had better luck climbing a small mound.
I have always wondered if filmmakers look back at the special effects used during their films, and think it could have been better. I understand that this was 1998 and CGI was still in an infant stage, but the special effects in Armageddon were fairly good. The shoddy CGI in ‘Deep Impact’ resulted from either a low-budget or procrastination. This is unfortunate, and most likely the reason why it grossed $100 million less than ‘Armageddon.’
Disaster films are just not the same anymore. Films like the Towering Inferno, Soylent Green and Omega Man are known today because they do not have all the twisted emotions and tears of the modern-day disaster flick. ‘Deep Impact’ and ‘Armageddon’ both share the same mushy, surface emotion that cloud the unique qualities of the film. Instead of being used as a character development tool, the characters become these sloppy motivational-speech-giving entities used only to move the plot, rather than contribute to the depth of the film.
There always seems to be an extra three minutes before everyone is obliterated for a motivational lift-me-up speech or dramatic scene of emotion. There never seems to be enough time for anything else however. . If faced with true disaster, people would most likely do what they did in the 2011 film ‘Contagion,’ say screw everyone else and save themselves.
While the end credits were rolling, I couldn’t help but notice some key Hollywood players involved in the production of this film. Examples: Executive producer Steven Spielberg (Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan), screenplay by Bruce Joel Rubin (Ghost, Jacobs Ladder) art director Dennis Bradford (The Devils Advocate, Star Trek) and original music by James Horner (Braveheart, Titanic, Terminator).
These key players have created epic Hollywood-changing films, yet they felt this regurgitated mess was good enough?