Deep Impact (1998) — This is the way the world sorta ends

“You’re gonna have a lot more sex starting now. Famous people always get more sex.”

Justin’s rating: I’m just waiting for the day that the government needs a movie critic to save the world… I am SO there!

Justin’s review: Well, boo-hoo, the world’s gonna end. What is one to do? Take a vacation? Finally ask out that cute girl in history class who is about three social steps up the ladder? Finally discover what wasabi tastes like? Why do any of these things… when you can make a movie that pulls at the emotional heartstrings and makes us spend our last non-decaying hours addicted to the softness of Kleenex!

The bad news: A big honkin’ comet is coming to make a DEEP IMPACT on the surface of the earth. The earth ain’t liking this much, and plans to throw a hissy fit of disastrous proportions, evicting its current tenants without returning the security deposit. So what if we made a mess on the rugs? It was like that when we got here!

The good news: We finally elected Morgan Freeman as President! About darn time, if you ask me. Seriously, if Freeman ran for Pres, wouldn’t like every single person in the world — not just America — vote for him? Ah, that silky voice.

This whole movie is based on that morose line of thinking that goes, “If the world’s gonna end tomorrow, what will I do today?” I don’t know about you, but I think we would get a jim dandy Mutant Reviewers End of the World Edition posted in a jiffy. As the peoples of Earth discover that their 401K plans don’t have much stock left, they grapple and cope with the oncoming doomsday. It’s all very tear-jerking and depressing, but almost in a fun, fascinating way.

I think this is because unlike Armageddon, Deep Impact tries to think on a slightly bigger and slightly more realistic scale. It flickers between various characters and their Lifetime stories, including a reporter who discovers the story, President Shawshank Redemption dealing with it all, and a couple of crazy high school kids in love. Oh, geez. If the end of the world is coming, I’d mark it as a good thing that it would be ending the spiderwebs of complications that mark your typical four-day teenage romance. I don’t need to be rooting for them.

While the planet is partying like it’s 1999 (one year early), there is a brief attempt to stop the comet with some incredibly large Space Pillows and a very old astronaut. Will they make it? Won’t they? Why can’t short, one-eyed claustrophobic Italians such as myself get into NASA?

You could get caught up in all of the drama that Deep Impactful Sorrow has to offer, but there’s actually a few captivating ideas behind it. Most notably, the Ark system that the U.S. creates to safeguard one million people through the planet killing spree. They use a lottery system that in another movie would be the crux of the plot, but it’s almost a sidenote here. I would’ve really liked to have seen the interior of the Ark and the “what if” scenario played out… the world ends, but they go on and come back to rebuild and repopulate.

I know at the time this film was released, I was against it in the sense that I would covertly spit on every copy that I found on Blockbuster’s rental shelves [legal note: Mr. Justin uses this as hyperbole, not as an actual occurrence]. Yet time has softened me somewhat, to where I can stand Tea Leoni’s shrill visage, and actually look up to Elijah “Want this ring?” Wood’s acting. Plus, I feel comforted that Jon “Gutter” Favreau is one of the astronauts sent to save the world. Ah, how times have changed.

Didja notice?

  • Elijah Wood’s dad is Toby from the West Wing!
  • The President tells them that the world is going to end, then starts lecturing on how comets came to be… huh? This isn’t a science class, mister!
  • MSNBC… did or does anyone watch this channel?
  • If you knew the sun was coming up quick and extremely bright on the surface of the comet, why would any of you wait until the very very last moment to lower your visors?
  • When Marcus Wolf (Charles Martin Smith) discovers the comet, he is sitting alone and eating a pizza, exactly as his character was doing in Starman when notified of the alien craft’s landing.
  • When Jenny Lerner is looking up “ELE” on the Internet, the ad banners on the right-hand side of the screen foreshadow the tidal wave at the end of the film: “The Wave of the Future”, “You’ve got some ocean coming”, etc.
  • There is no place in Virginia where mountains are present within six miles of ocean beaches. Yet we are clearly shown a sign on the freeway saying “Virginia Beaches, 6 mi” right at the base of the mountains.
  • Astronomers wouldn’t use a white light to read a star map, they’d use a red one.
  • The giant wave that destroys New York City is going in the wrong direction in the scene where it hits Washington Square Park. (The Washington Square arch is actually on the uptown side of the park, while the wave should be coming from farther downtown)
  • Marcus Wolf can’t send email about the comet from the observatory where he works because he can’t get a connection to the server, but even if his cell phone doesn’t work there, there must be a regular phone

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