Top positive review
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An intelligent disaster movie
on 1 January 2009
Its rather interesting that both Deep Impact and Armageddon were released around the same time because the two films deal with the same subject matter but in vastly different ways. While Jerry Bruckheimer gives us Con Air In Space, Mimi Leder takes a more considered approach to the threat of human extinction by chosing to concentrate on how exactly many of us would respond to the idea of the end of the world. Characters are fleshed out, warts and all. If one didn't already know this was a film about a giant meteor heading towards earth and knew about as much as the reporter who wants to uncover why 'ELLE' is such a closely guarded govermnment secret it is entirely plausible that events would unfurl as portrayed in this film.
I prefer films that do not try to insult my intelligence, like Armageddon with its over-the-top posturing macho nonsense. Deep Impact tells its story simply and intelligently. Morgan Freeman gives a magnificent performance as the President, a kind of mature version of Barak Obama. Robert Duvall is brilliant as the seasoned old astronaut pilot giving the young guns a lessson in seat-of-the-pants piloting. Tea Leoni, all inner turmoil and uncertainty until the end, is actually rather an inspired choice as a young ambitious reporter who suddenly realises that pulitzer prize fame is not the goal that she craves the most. And Elijah Wood plays the geeky kid from average family in average town USA who helps discover the comet that is hurtling towards Earth.
Deep Impact is a moving film, about hope, crushing disappointment and ultimately redemption. Its the sort of movie that the Americans occasionally get right. More often than not we get Armageddon, which is why the contrast between the two films is so fascinating. It is one of my favourite disaster movies, primarily because it understands that the impact of any disaster is really only as big as one's involvement and indentification with the main characters affected by it. By the end of the film you care about the fate of the bedraggled survivors of the shuttle expedition who have one last, vital card up their sleeve. Its a tragic, but heroic ending to a superbly crafted tale.
So if you want something to look at while you concentrate on munching popcorn buy Armageddon. If you want to watch a movie that stirs your emotions then Deep Impact may well be for you.