A great big rock hits the earth, and lots of people die. That's pretty much all there is to Deep Impact
, and most of that was in the trailer. Can a major Hollywood movie really squeak by with such a slender excuse for a premise? The old disaster-movie king, cheese-meister Irwin Allen (The Poseidon Adventure
), would have made a kitsch classic out of this, with Charlton Heston, rather than a resigned and mumbly Robert Duvall, as the veteran astronaut who risks several lives trying to blow up the comet that's headed right this way!
As stiffly directed by Mimi Leder, this thick slice of ham errs on the side of solemnity. It may be the most earnest end-of-the-world picture since Stanley Kramer's atomic-doom drama On the Beach
. There are a couple of classic melodramatic flourishes: an estranged father and daughter who share a tearful reconciliation as a Godzilla-sized tidal wave looms on the horizon; and an astronaut, communicating on video with his loved ones back on Earth, who follows whispered instructions from a buddy lurking just off camera--so that his little girl won't realise that he's been struck blind. Deep Impact
stars Morgan Freeman as the president of the United States. --David Chute