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Deep Impact

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Review by Aaron Beierle | posted January 5, 2000 | E-mail the Author

My Original Review On May 8, 1998 Of The Film:

Poor Mimi Leder. Leder, the helmer of the forgetable "Peacemaker" and now this film, is talented. Yet everything around her seems to either fall apart or not click. On "Peacemaker", Nicole Kidman, and especially George Clooney, turned in horrid performances. In "Deep Impact", we have all of the pieces. There is a fairly good script, good actors(Robert Duvall, Morgan Freeman), but it all ends up adding up to absolutely nothing.

The story centers around a TV reporter played by Tea Leoni(not a bad actress, but miscast here) who stumbles on to the comet story and becomes the most familiar face to the public, who watches intently. Morgan Freeman does a decent job in such a thin part as the president of the United States. Duvall does a nice job with little as well. There are so many unacceptable touches here; Freeman's president asks that people stay calm. Nothing will change. Yeah, right. For some reason I find the chaos of "Independence Day" a lot more believable. In a scene towards the end, two teens, one played by Elijah Wood(who's character discovers the comet) escape a giant wall of water on a motorbike. There are other little touches that sent groans through the audience. The Elijah Wood character marries his girlfriend to try and save her(it sorta doesn't work, but I won't go into that yet.). That's not a bad thing, but the problem is, I didn't care. I simply didn't care about the characters here enough to be interested in their dealings. Towards the mid-point of the film, Wood's character and his family head towards the tunnels where some humans will live if the comet hits. Just when he gets there, he tells his parents that he's got to go back(it's like a cross country trip he's talking about) to save his girlfriend. It takes his parents about 5 seconds to let him go. They must not like him much.

The audiences coming for special effects will be very sorely dissapointed. Aside from a sequence on the comet that isn't very exciting, and the wave scene at the VERY end, there are no major effects in this film. What we get is essentially a 1 hr 45 min soap opera with a chunk of effects at the end, which has one very strange bit of humor as the wave flings a man off his park bench. The proceedings could have used an anticlimatic event or two, mainly just to wake me up. Through the body of the film there aren't many effects or action, special or otherwise. Characters go through their daily lives, and Tea Leoni's character, Jenny, has to "make things right" with her father. I didn't quite get what the problem was between the two, and wasn't about to care. In fact, watching the other "story", about Wood and his girlfriend, I passed the time by thinking about how much the girl who played his girlfriend looked like a miniature Helen Hunt.

There is no scope here; we are tight in on the main characters- there are few shots of how the rest of the country are feeling. And for all of the talk about "The Caves"(AKA "The Ark") we never actually see inside it. The humor, sprinkled about for some relief from the somber proceedings, falls flat on it's face.

It all adds up to an 80 million character drama. It's a gutsy idea, but not a particularly smart one, since it rarely works. The last time I know of that a character actioner worked was "Crimson Tide". This film only works when Leder picks up the pace, with steadycam shots that are even a bit too dizzying. She brings a "You-Are-There" feeling to the proceedings, but if you have a character piece, you must care about the characters. I simply saw nothing in these characters to lock into, and that's the reason that this picture fails.

The ending leaves much to be desired; we sit through the majority of this dramatic film waiting for a big final; it's big, but it's not impressive at all. In fact, it's a bit of a downer in more ways than one, but I don't want to give anything away. I simply don't see the business for this film; it's not a strong enough drama to entice the dramatic crowd(the tearjerker moments didn't suck me in- in fact I said to myself, "this isn't going to suck me in."; mainly made up of the female audience. It's definitely not an actioner; and the male crowd will stay away. The walk-outs were "equal opportunity" though, I saw both men and women leaving the theater mid-way through.

Review After Watching It At Home:
Better. "Deep Impact", although it's a major film, seems like a "rental" to me. Plot, FX, story all seem tighter and work better watching it at home on DVD.
I still think that parts of the film don't work; it still feels a little slow at times and a little overly dramatic, but I did enjoy it much more at home.

The Disc:
Picture:Paramount has done an outstanding job on this disc. Although it is not 16x9, it is RSDL, and the picture quality is excellent. Images are very film-like and have excellent color saturation and contrast.
The picture quality is so strong that it is one of those discs that are of such high quality that it helps your overall enjoyment of the movie. There are no compression artifacts or shimmering that I could see; overall this is much better than quite a few recent Paramount discs.

Audio: Strong, high quality audio, with excellent bass, especially in a few of the action scenes. The last sequence of the film(starting with chapter 27) roars through the room like a freight train. Dialogue and general audio is clear, crisp and well recorded.The usual outstanding work by composer James Horner sounds great.Still, you can't switch audio from the remote control.

Extras: The theatrical trailer, the teaser trailer.

Menus: Good looking only because the front cover(which if all goes well, should be included at the top of the review) is good looking. Paramount simply uses the front cover for their main menu artwork.

Overall: Excellent, great quality disc by Paramount, and after watching it on dvd, I'm begining to like this more than I liked "Armageddon."

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