Released the same year as the more famous Armageddon, Deep Impact is also about a large thing from space heading towards Earth, except this time Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck aren’t sent to detonate a nuke on the surface with an Aerosmith soundtrack backing them.
I’ll admit. The movie was much more interesting in the first few minutes, with Téa Leoni‘s Jenny Lerner tracking down a scandal at the White House… that doesn’t actually turn out to be all that scandalous. But a clandestine meeting in a DC kitchen with President Beck (Morgan Freeman – in a brown suit, a decade-plus ahead of Barack Obama getting pushback for his tan suit – convincing her to sit on what she thinks is the story to await his press conference.
Oh wait. It’s almost the exact same story. Instead of a bunch of oil drillers and whatnot, it’s a team of NASA astronauts (and one Russian) being sent to the surface of the comet, which is the size of New York City and “bigger” than Mount Everest. With President Beck announcing the looming arrival of the comet Wolf-Beiderman – named for the scientists that discovered it (Elijah Wood is Beiderman!) – and the secret “Messiah” that they’ve been building in the Earth’s orbit to intercept the comet and plant nuclear devices in an attempt to destroy the comet.
Of course the mission on the comet doesn’t go as planned. They have limited time to place the devices and one gets stuck, delaying the departure of the crew from the surface. Commander Oren Monash (Ron Eldard) is blinded when the sun rises on the comet, and Dr. Gus Partenza (John Favreau) is launched into space by a vent. When the nuclear devices are detonated, they don’t destroy the comet, instead splitting it into two smaller comets.
With the looming impact of the comet fragments, President Beck announces the presence of underground bunkers, a new “Noah’s Ark,” where 1 million Americans will be selected to wait out the coming catastrophe. The Beiderman family is pre-selected, but his girlfriend Sarah (Leelee Sobieski) and her family are not, so they decide to get married as teenagers to save them.
That doesn’t work either.
So instead, Frodo leaves his family at the ark to go find his teenage bride instead, while the government launches Titan ICBMs at the comets in a last ditch effort to break them into smaller pieces.
This fails too.
The country braces for, ahem, impact, and the crew of the Messiah decide to attack the larger comet in an attempt to prevent it from destroying Earth. Leo finds Sarah and her family, and they take her younger brother and head to high ground. Jenny Lerner drives to the beach to die with her father in the wake of Beiderman’s impact tsunami. The larger comet is destroyed, preventing the “extinction-level event” and the world begins to rebuild.
Of the two movies – Armageddon and Deep Impact – the latter is generally considered to be the better movie, though they are both “Rotten” according to Rotten Tomatoes. Having not watch Armageddon for probably 15 years, I can’t say definitively if that is the case in my opinion.
Wait. Yes I can.
On my FlickChart, Armageddon is currently #552 based on 27 rankings, while Deep Impact is #1,287 based on 15 rankings. So it looks like I might like the former batter than the latter, at least in a head-to-head matchup. Two attempts to re-rank Deep Impact leave it mired in four-digit territory, settling at #1,144 between Taken 2 and The Velveteen Rabbit. Is this an accurate ranking? Probably, though it could be that I’m a little higher – or too low – on Taken 2, another movie that I have not seen for quite some time.
Regardless, I didn’t think the another watch of the movie was going to elevate it much higher than it already was. It was not a terrible movie… but that doesn’t automatically make it a good one, let alone a great one. I’m with the consensus it seems on Deep Impact; it ranks around the middle of all movies on FlickChart (#5,997 globally), though I’d like to talk to the 11 people that have it ranked #1. So while it was better than I remember it being, it is definitely not something that I need to watch again.
Deep Impact is currently streaming on Starz if you have a subscription. I paid the $3.99 to rent it from Amazon. I’m also fairly sure that you can find it in the DVD bin of your local Walmart for $2 if you dig hard enough. That is… if you want to watch it.
Until next time…