Tuesday, June 27, 2023

From High Atop the Comet Kahoutek Clyde’s Movie Palace Presents: Deep Impact (1998)

Blank Movie Marquee 0003The Cast of Deep ImpactDirector
There is no doubt about it. We are doomed. There are giant comets and meteors in the far reaches of space with Earth's name on it, heading toward us and ready to wipe out the whole piss-ant human population. And a few million years after us, a new species will grow and evolve, perhaps more intelligent than us, with no Fascist Republicans allowed to stupefy whatever species may exist.

Deep Impact 4kHow do I know all of this? Because the Encyclopedia of Hollywood Movies tells us that this is so. In 1998 they told us twice. The first time was when the Wolf–Beiderman comet started worrying us in May. It was produced by the friendly folks of Paramount.

The second entry in the Hollywood Encyclopedia, a meteor named "Dottie," came crashing noisily into cinemas in early July, courtesy of the Touchstone Division of Disney Studios. This was fitting as the Disney Powers That Be Comet would obliterate Touchstone in 2007 and relegate most of its movies to disintegrate into dust in some Disney Vault whose location is top secret.  Recently, these films  have been joined by the 20th Century Fox Library, which was purchased for the pittance of over 70 billion dollars bought by Disney solely to suffer the same fate.

But being a planet of people of Hollywood High Hopes, there is always a last-minute plan to save us all from death, destruction, and one helluva mess to clean up.

Deep Impact opens with a group of students, including Leo Biederman (Elijah Wood), studying the skies through telescopes. Leo discovers what looks to be a comet, although his soon-to-be girlfriend, Sarah Hotchner (Leelee Sobieski), disputes that.

Megretz 001Megretz 002

To settle this boy/girl love is in the air astrological dispute, they send it off to Dr. Marcus Wolf (Charles Martin Smith), who confirms that Leo is correct, that it is indeed a comet, and the prize is Biederman gets his name on it along with Wolf, and they will be famous until the end of days, which as it turns out, comes sooner for Dr. Wolf rather than later.

Wolf 0001Wolf 0002

Wolf-Biedermann Comet
Wolf discovers that the comet is on a direct collision course with the 3rd Rock From the Sun aka Earth and it's soon going to be bye-bye human race. But in his haste to get the information to the president, Wolfie meets up with a careless chain-smoking truck driver, and while his name will carry on for the remainder of the two-hour running time, he won't. Bye-bye, Wolf Pie.

Truck crashThanks to an irrepressible, relentless ace reporter, Lois Lane Jenny Lerner (Tea Leoni), and a lecture from President Beck (Morgan Freeman), we and she find out that Secretary of the Treasury Alan Rittenhouse (James Cromwell) does not have a mistress named Ellie but that the E.L.E. everyone is talking about stands for Extinction Level Event. Ruh-roh.

President Lecture 0001ELE

There are, however, a few plans in the works. There is always a plan. We, along with our friends, The Russians (Ha!), have been building the world's most enormous ever spacecraft, The Messiah, although calling it the Jee-Bus would have been much more fun.
President 0001President 0002
There will be five American astronauts and one Russian. Among the Americans is Spurgeon Tanner (Robert Duvall), who is not only older than God but the only one on board to have landed on another celestial body. Their mission, which they have no choice but to accept, is to land on the comet, insert a nuclear missile, and take off back into space while blowing it all to shit. Sounds easy, doesn't it? It never is.


Comet Landing
And there is a backup plan as well if the Messiah mission fails. That plan is to herd a few hundred thousand lucky (unlucky?) souls into some caves in some Neverland that will survive the initial impacts. If they live through that, they can find out the joys of staying in perpetual darkness while drinking Enfamil day after day and then wander out of the cave years later as either Cannibalistic Morlocks or Eloi, the main course of the Morlocks. I know, that last part happens in a different movie, but learn your film heritage. There will be a quiz.

President 0003
Meanwhile, here on Earth, the human dramas take place. Jenny's father, Jason (Maximilian Schell), has divorced Jenny's Mother, Robin (Vanessa Redgrave), and has just got him a new cow gal named Chloe (Rya Kihlstedt). Jenny is not too crazy about her stepmother either. As for Robin, she's still determining if she wants anything to do with The Big Bang Theory Part 2. And no, that does not reference Sheldon, Leonard, Penny, and the gang. You can fill in the blanks yourself.

Jenny and Chloe
Having discovered the comet and now a big celebrity, Leo has a guaranteed spot as a cave dweller, so he decides now may be an excellent time to connect the dots and marry Sarah and take her along for the ride with the rest of his family and hers except as you'll find out, he makes a slight miscalculation.

Married 0001Married 0002
I can't tell you how all of this turns out. If you've seen the movie, you already know.

At the time of their release, Armageddon and Deep Impact were pretty much drubbed by the critics, with Armageddon scoring 43% and Deep Impact scoring 45%. One can appreciate Deep Impact more for its humanistic approach to the story, no matter how often Bruce Willis blows himself up in Armageddon.

It's probably unfair of me to write criticism of Armageddon without a full review, but I will do it anyway. For many reasons, a lot of which have to do with Michael Bay's over-the-top ham-handed direction, from the first time I saw Armageddon when I took my sons to a theater to see it, I was not too fond of it. And to this day, I despise the movie enough that if I were to list what I think are the ten or twenty worst movies I've ever seen, Armageddon would be there. I'll do a full review someday.

It's not that Deep Impact exactly blew me away. I was kind of meh about it the first time I saw it. Remember, these end-of-the-world-by-comet scenarios came after many of us had seen a little television movie called The Day After (Now out of print, you snooze you lose), which let us all know that after an Atomic War, we are pretty much screwed. So choose your destruction: A wayward comet (meteor) or nuclear bombs blowing the planet all to hell and filling the atmosphere with radiation poisoning. You tell me which is more affecting. There isn't no Messiah spaceship to save us from that.

That being said, Deep Impact has made me appreciate it more now. The human side of the story puts anything in Armageddon to shame. I can't go too deep into it without giving away too much (although I have been known to do that occasionally). I'll only say that in one film, millions die. In another, they don't. We have a great cast in one movie that can act; in the other, we don't. 

Deep Impact now comes to us on a sparkling new 4k release I viewed in my home theater before writing this review. I highly recommend it.  You can watch clips from my theater below from my Instagram account Why aren’t you following me?). I highly recommend the disc, and if you don't have a 4k player, it comes with a bluray you can use until you get one or buy a PS5 or XBoxX, which also plays the 4k format. 

So before the comet hits, and while I still have time, I'll simply say that Deep Impact has found its way to a B- score but the 4k Disc is an A. That’ll do, right James Cromwell?

And as coincidences go, this popped up in my Facebook feed so if you like this sort of thing, have at it.  Go to their youtube and buy them a cookie. They appear to be doing a lot better than I am in that regards.

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