June/July 1998

Deep Impact

review by Christopher Null

3 1/2 stars


I admit it. I'm a sap for the touchy-feely business sometimes.

Deep Impact makes no apologies for being a sob-fest. I mean, how else do you smash a comet into the earth without killing off a few hundred million people, and breaking a few hearts in the process? As the first disaster-from-space film of the year, Deep Impact sets the bar at an interesting level. It's not an action film, although it has action elements. It's not a thriller, although suspense is in the mix. It's more a drama than anything else, the main story lines being a reporter (Leoni) estranged from her father, a young astronomer (Wood) who finds he can't abandon his girlfriend, and a codgery astronaut (Duvall) who gains acceptance among a younger crew.

Against the backdrop of a giant comet en route to the planet, it's a surprise that there are so many lulls in the story where there's little to do but check your watch. Still, ER veteran Leder directs the action with sufficient flair to keep you interested and keep those Kleenex in action.

I'm not immune. Once you get past the urge to dismiss the whole shebang as an unlikely bit of Hollywood trickery, there are so many sacrifices in the film from so many characters... even a cynic like me can get a bit teary-eyed.

Overall, it's a refreshing change of pace from the big budget extravangzas that Tinseltown regularly trots out.

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