Super Comet: After The Impact:
I Am Legend has brought weird thinking to the forefront of public mentality, but I've always been into it. Not survivalism, as such, but the notion of what to do with oneself after the apocalypse. Maybe in my case it stems from being a teen in the Reagan Era, nursing a very real fear that the Soviets would drop the bomb on us (cue Gap Band) at any moment. But it doesn't have to be a human-caused conflagration, as The Science Channel reminds us with its TV-movie, Super Comet: After The Impact.
Much like any science documentary, Super Comet uses voice-over narration, scientist interviews and global mini-dramas to explain the effect of an 8-mile-wide comet (cue Eminem) crashing into the earth. With narrative explanation we follow the grim tale of Fernando, a resident of the Yucatan Peninsula - the place our comet chooses to impact. We also look in on a pair of astronomers tracking the comet from Hawaii, a family in Paris, France, and a Pygmy tribe from Cameroon. An 8-mile-wide comet may seem puny compared to the mighty earth, but this docudrama lays it out in fascinating detail - such a rock will mess us up big time. In fact a similar incident is most likely what killed the dinosaurs, a theory from which much of the science on display is drawn.
Super Comet offers up acting and production values commensurate with its origins on a cable-TV channel with low viewer-ship - think Sci-Fi channel with better intentions. But with modern CGI technology, an adequate job is done torching cities with fireballs, drowning towns with super-tsunamis and blanketing the globe with acidic ash. Despite the trauma, it's nearly impossible to get emotionally involved with the characters, therefore cheating you of some of the vicarious pain one would expect to feel. The post comet world will be rough, tough and for most of us, our way of life will be thoroughly thrashed.
As a TV-show, Super Comet makes with a little too much of the commercial-wraparound recapping, a tedious practice that pads the running time and further takes you out of the illusion one would hope to enjoy. But it gave me time to think about where we are as a species and where we are going. When and if our infrastructure is completely destroyed - no electricity, no government, no global economy and no Internet - what is left? When and why might a life of mere subsistence and simple pleasures be preferable to what we have now, a world where economies have to keep growing, growing, growing in order to survive? A way of life in which corporations can destroy towns just to save money, and interfacing with a glowing screen has become our primary mode of entertainment and interaction.
Super Comet: After The Impact, a moderately gripping novelty about a subject that may never come to pass, doesn't specifically raise these questions, but its fun and frightening end-of-the-world scenarios give you ample opportunity to infer your own answers.
The widescreen 1.78:1 ratio provides a nice presentation of Super Comet - depending on how your television processes it. I chose to zoom in on the image instead of viewing with black bars all around. I didn't notice a difference until the credits rolled, revealing that I was missing a bit from the top and bottom of the image. Not a problem for me, though. Otherwise, the picture was sharp, clean and bright, with good color reproduction and no compression artifacts, even with all the lower-grade CGI on display.
Dolby Digital Stereo is adequate though not elaborate. Much of the audio consists of voiceover narration with dramatic music in the background, that is, you won't be finding tricky sound-effect placement or anything like that.
There are essentially no extras. Chapter stops are available, but no scene selection menu. A four-minute-long Discovery Channel Recommends promo will possibly lead you to check out other documentaries such as one which examines Chinese culture.
Super Comet: After The Impact can't compare even with dusty old epics like Deep Impact, Armageddon or The Day After Tomorrow. But, as a science-based documentary drama meant not to fill the seats by dint of Liv Tyler's lips, but to impart a bit of fantastical education in entertaining manner, it does a fine job. It also makes you think about life on earth a little more than those other special-effects epics do, a nice (if not mandatory) extra from a science documentary. For my money - after you plant a garden, learn a bit about naturopathic medicine and practice tying knots - you might get a kick out of Super Comet, if you Rent It.
- Kurt Dahlke
~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com