Monday, June 20, 2011
(May 1998, U.S.)
It seems that ever since INDEPENDENCE DAY in 1996, Hollywood has been looking for new and seemingly inventive ways to destroy our planet. To be honest, after 9-11 I thought that they might calm down a bit and take a more sensitive approach to our global destruction. Well, one can dream, right? No, it didn't happen. If anything, it's gotten much worse. This planet of ours has been subjected to every sort of phenomenal weather event and every sort of alien invasion that could be dreamt up. Who could possibly deny that this sort of screen insanity hasn't possibly inspired global terrorists to inflict their evil on the United States and the rest of the world? Well, it's an argument anyway.
So, let's recall the Summer of 1998 together. Our cities were being destroyed on screen three times over. Two studios were competing head-to-head with oversized outer space rocks hitting the Earth and a new form of Godzilla was wreaking havoc in New York City. DEEP IMPACT was one of those films but it dared to do something that I hadn't seen any disaster film do since THE TOWERING INFERNO (1974); the film dared to be human. You see, when you really think about it, the concept of spending the better part of year preparing yourself and your life for a comet that is going to collide with the Earth is not exactly a fun or exciting prospect. It's actually quite frightening. How are you going to spend the remaining part of your life? What will you accomplish? Who will you reconcile with before the end comes? Will we be saved in the end? Who will be pre-selected to survive in government-built caves? These are questions that surround characters in the film you can actually come to care about as the story builds to its disasterous climax. Not to say that DEEP IMPACT doesn't come with its share of fun, especially the outer space sequences when our brave astronauts of the world come together to try and destroy the comet. Oh yeah, and we also have our first African-American president of the United States on screen in the form of Morgan Freeman, ten years before our own president is elected to office.
DEEP IMPACT lives up to its title, not only in it's physical impact with our planet, but its impact on the lives of those it will impact (there's that word again!). It's a human disaster film that can actually choke you up at certain moments. For myself, when Tea Leoni's character is in her father's arms standing on the beach in front of the house she grew up in and says, "Daddy." just before the fatal tidal wave destroys them both, I can't help but develop a lump in my throat. If the end were to come today, there's nowhere on Earth I'd want to be except at my beach house clutching my wife and child. Touching, isn't it?
Favorite line or dialogue:
President Tom Beck: "Good evening. A few minutes ago, the Unites States ambassadors to every country in the world told the leaders of those nations what I am about to tell you. It's a bit complicated. So it will take some time. So I hope you will bear with me and hear what I have to say. A little over a year ago, two American astronomers, Marcus Wolf and Leo Biederman, working on a mountain top in Arizona, saw something in the night sky that caused them great concern - a comet. But the comet was, well, there was a remote possibility that the comet was on a path that could bring it into direct contact with the Earth..."