Deep Impact

on May 08, 1998 by Lisa Osborne
There are two comets on a collision-course with Earth. If they arrive, they will kill most of the people on the planet. "Deep Impact" examines the human reactions to imminent extinction.
   The plot is divided into two parts: scenes aboard the space shuttle Messiah, whose six-member crew has been assigned the task of destroying the comets or at least knocking them off course, and then shots among the general populace on Earth. The space scenes are fast-paced and well written. Robert Duvall is very credible as Spurgeon Tanner, the older, more experienced astronaut with the wry sense of humor. The quality of his acting and the great special effects hold this part of the story together. But time drags a bit during the Earth scenes when one gets tired of waiting for the inevitable to happen. Tea Leoni does a reasonable job playing Jenny Lerner, the ambitious young TV news reporter who breaks the story. But the Earth scenes are carried by Vanessa Redgrave and Maximilian Schell, who play her parents, and Morgan Freeman, who does a terrific job portraying the U.S. president.
   Movies which portray the end of the world, especially those that take themselves seriously, should try to resist naming structures `The Ark' and gathering animals `two by two.' And the `Eden-like' ending is nauseating. In summary: self-sacrifice saves the race while special effects and some good acting save the movie. Starring Robert Duvall, Tea Leoni, Morgan Freeman and Vanessa Redgrave. Directed by Mimi Leder. Written by Michael Tolkin and Bruce Joel Rubin. Produced by Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown. A Paramount release. Drama. Rated PG-13 for intense disaster-related elements and brief language. Running time: 121 min.
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