Deep Impact (film)

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Deep Impact
Deep Impact poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mimi Leder
Produced by David Brown
Richard D. Zanuck
Written by Bruce Joel Rubin
Michael Tolkin
Starring Robert Duvall
Téa Leoni
Elijah Wood
Vanessa Redgrave
Maximilian Schell
Morgan Freeman
Music by James Horner
Cinematography Dietrich Lohmann
Edited by Paul Cichocki
David Rosenbloom
Production
company
DreamWorks Pictures
The Manhattan Project
Zanuck/Brown Productions
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • May 8, 1998 (1998-05-08)
Running time 121 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $80,000,000[1]
Box office $349,464,664[2]

Deep Impact is a 1998 American science fiction disaster film[3] directed by Mimi Leder, written by Bruce Joel Rubin and Michael Tolkin, and starring Robert Duvall, Téa Leoni, Elijah Wood, Vanessa Redgrave, Maximilian Schell, and Morgan Freeman. Steven Spielberg served as an executive producer of this film. It was released by Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks in the United States on May 8, 1998. The film depicts the attempts to prepare for and destroy a 7-mile-wide comet, which is to collide with the Earth and cause a mass extinction.

Deep Impact was released during the same summer as a similarly themed rival, Armageddon, which fared better at the box office, while astronomers described Deep Impact as being more scientifically accurate.[4][5] Deep Impact grossed over $349 million worldwide on an $80 million production budget.

This is the final film of cinematographer Dietrich Lohmann.

Plot[edit]

On May 10, 1998, teenage amateur astronomer Leo Beiderman[6] (Elijah Wood) discovers an unusual object near the stars Mizar and Alcor at a star party in Richmond, Virginia with his school's astronomy club. His teacher alerts astronomer Marcus Wolf (Charles Martin Smith), who realizes that the object is a comet on a collision course with Earth. Wolf tries to get the information out, but dies in a car accident before he can alert the world.

One year later, MSNBC journalist Jenny Lerner (Téa Leoni) investigates the sudden resignation of Secretary of the Treasury Alan Rittenhouse (James Cromwell) and his connection to "Ellie." She suspects from a confrontation with Rittenhouse that Ellie is not a mistress but an acronym: "E.L.E.", for "Extinction-Level Event". On the ride back, she is intercepted by the FBI and brought before President Tom Beck (Morgan Freeman). Due to Lerner's investigation, President Beck advances the announcement of the grim facts to the media: the comet named Wolf-Beiderman (named after its discoverers Marcus Wolf and Leo Beiderman) is 7 miles (11 km) long—large enough to cause a mass extinction, and possibly wipe out humanity, if it hits Earth. The United States and Russia have been secretly constructing an Orion spacecraft called Messiah in orbit. They plan to use it to transport a team led by Oren Monash (Ron Eldard) and including veteran astronaut Spurgeon Tanner (Robert Duvall) to the comet, so that its path toward Earth can be intercepted with nuclear weapons. Beiderman also speaks before his town about the error where the White House had stated that he had died with Marcus Wolf.

After landing on the comet, the crew members plant nuclear bombs 100 meters beneath the surface. While returning to the space vehicle, Monash is blinded due to direct unfiltered sunlight and suffers severe facial burns while Gus Partenza (Jon Favreau) is ejected from the surface from an outflow of gas. When the bombs are detonated the ship is damaged and the team loses contact with Earth. Instead of being knocked off-course or destroyed entirely, the comet splits into two smaller rocks nicknamed "Beiderman" (1.5 miles (2.4 km) long) and "Wolf" (6 miles (9.7 km) long), both world-threatening.

President Beck announces the Messiah crew's failure, declares martial law, and reveals that governments worldwide have been building underground shelters. The United States' shelter is in the limestone caves of Missouri. The US government conducts a lottery to select 800,000 ordinary Americans under age 50 to join 200,000 pre-selected scientists, engineers, teachers, artists, soldiers, and officials as well as two of every animal and the seeds of every plant life. Lerner and the Beiderman family are pre-selected, but Leo's girlfriend Sarah Hotchner (Leelee Sobieski) and her family are not. Leo marries Sarah to save her family, but the Hotchners are mistakenly left off the evacuee list. Sarah refuses to leave without them.

A last-ditch effort to use Earth's missile-borne nuclear weapons to deflect the two chunks of the comet fails. President Beck reports states that the Beiderman fragment will impact the Atlantic Ocean off the waters of Cape Hatteras as he advises those in the path of the megatsunami to leave immediately. President Beck then reveals that the Wolf fragment will impact western Canada which will create a cloud of dust that will block out the sun for two years. This in turn will destroy most life on Earth. Leo returns home looking for Sarah, but her family has left for the Appalachian Mountains and is trapped in a traffic jam on the highway. Leo catches up to the family using a small motorcycle in the Hotchners' garage. Sarah's parents urge Leo to take Sarah and her baby brother to high ground. Lerner gives up her seat in the last evacuation helicopter to her friend Beth (Laura Innes) who has a young daughter. She joins her estranged father Jason (Maximilian Schell) at their childhood beach house where they reconcile and remember happier times.

The Beiderman fragment impacts in the Atlantic Ocean near Cape Hatteras, creating a megatsunami. Lerner, Jason, Sarah's parents, and millions of others die as the tsunami destroys the Atlantic coasts of North America, South America, Europe, and Africa. The world waits for the impact of the Wolf fragment in western Canada. Low on fuel and life support, the crew of Messiah decides to undertake a suicide mission with the remaining nuclear warheads to obliterate the Wolf fragment. After saying goodbye to their loved ones by video conference, the ship reaches the Wolf fragment and enters a fissure to blow itself up, which breaks the fragment into much smaller pieces that burn up in Earth's atmosphere. Leo, Sarah, and her baby brother survive as they are among the people that escaped the megatsunami.

After the waters recede, President Beck speaks to a large crowd in front of the United States Capitol building which is undergoing reconstruction. He urges the nation and the world to continue their recovery.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Jenny Lerner, the character played by Téa Leoni, was originally intended to work for CNN. CNN rejected this because it would be "inappropriate". MSNBC agreed to be featured in the movie instead, seeing it as a way to gain exposure for the then-newly created network.[7]

Director Mimi Leder later explained that she would have liked to travel to other countries to incorporate additional perspectives, but that there ended up being no time or budget to allow it.[8] Visual effects supervisor Scott Farrar felt that coverage of worldwide events would have distracted and detracted from the main characters' stories.[8]

Music[edit]

Deep Impact – Music from the Motion Picture
Soundtrack album by James Horner
Released May 5, 1998
Recorded 1997–1998
Genre Film score
Length 77:12
Label Sony
James Horner chronology
Titanic
(1997)
Deep Impact
(1998)
The Mask of Zorro
(1998)

The music for the film was composed and conducted by James Horner. Much of the score used for Deep Impact was recycled and reused in Bicentennial Man, released the following year.

Reception[edit]

Deep Impact debuted at the North American box office with $41,000,000 in ticket sales. The movie grossed $140,000,000 in North America and an additional $209,000,000 worldwide for a total gross of $349,000,000. Despite competition in the summer of 1998 from the similar Armageddon (which cost almost twice as much as Deep Impact to make), Deep Impact was still a box office hit and was the higher opener of the two.[9] Domestically, it became the highest grossing film directed by a woman and held that record for a decade until Twilight claimed the record in 2008.

The film had a mixed critical reception. Based on 51 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, 47% of critics enjoyed the film, with an average rating of 5.7/10.[10] Metacritic gave a score of 40 based on 20 reviews. Janet Maslin of The New York Times said that the film "has a more brooding, thoughtful tone than this genre usually calls for",[11] however Rita Kempley and Michael O'Sullivan of the Washington Post criticized what they saw as unemotional performances and a lack of tension for the scenario.[12][13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Deep Impact". The Numbers. Retrieved 2013-02-01. 
  2. ^ "Deep Impact". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2013-02-01. 
  3. ^ Olthuis, Andrew. "Deep Impact". Allmovie. Retrieved August 12, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Disaster Movies". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-03-23. 
  5. ^ Plait, Phil (February 17, 2000). "Hollywood Does the Universe Wrong". Space.com. 
  6. ^ Many sources spell this Biederman because it appears that way in the closing credits. However, there are a few written instances within the movie of the spelling Beiderman, indicating that it was the intended spelling during production, and the closing credits were in error.
  7. ^ AP: MSNBC gets role in Deep Impact after CNN declines 30/4/98: http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P1-19861267.html
  8. ^ a b Leder, Mimi and Farrar, Scott. Audio commentary. Deep Impact DVD. Universal Studios, 2004.
  9. ^ "Deep Impact (1998)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-02-22. 
  10. ^ "Deep Impact (1998)". Retrieved December 23, 2009. 
  11. ^ Maslin, Janet (May 8, 1998). "Movie Review — Deep Impact". The New York Times. Retrieved November 10, 2012. 
  12. ^ Kempley, Rita (March 8, 2000). "'Deep Impact': C'mon Comet!". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 22, 2009. 
  13. ^ O'Sullivan, Michael (March 8, 2000). "High Profile, Low 'Impact'". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 22, 2009. 

External links[edit]