Volume 92, Issue 1

Friday, May 15, 1998

empty pockets


Making an impact on summer disaster films

By Marie-Lauren Gregoire
Gazette Writer

The first of this summer's disaster movies is Deep Impact, the story of a population fighting for survival in the face of extinction. A comet the size of Manhattan is scheduled to hit the East Coast of North America, creating an impact that will cause animal and plant life to be wiped out in a massive cloud of dust.

Director Mimi Leder succeeds with this film by combining a superb cast with amazing special effects. Morgan Freeman plays the solemn and spiritual president of the United States who gives a great performance, with expressions that tell the story when words are not enough.

Tea Leone gives a decent performance as the trustworthy journalist, Jenny Lerner, who broadcasts the news of impending doom to the population at large. Rounding out the star-studded cast is Robert Duvall, who heads the attempts to destroy the comet before it hits earth.

The acting in Deep Impact is intense and real, as the actors make the audience feel their despair and anguish. Those in danger go to great extremes and show amazing courage to avoid their impending death, while others risk themselves selflessly as an expression of self-sacrifice. The "emotional quotient" of this film lessens its potential as a pure action adventure film, yet it does compare well with action blockbusters like Independence Day and Air Force One.

While Deep Impact delivers on its promises of explosions and mass destruction, it also deals a dose of humanity and thought provoking realism which qualifies it as more than just a disaster film. The movie creators do a good job of combining pure thrilling action and humankind's capacity for love – always a difficult task.

The effects in Deep Impact are also realistic and impressive. A believable environment is created on the comet's surface and digital effects create explosive space scenes as well as a massive computer-generated wave that's larger than the CN Tower. Scenes of the East Coast and Washington, D.C. show mass destruction and large-scale hysteria.

Deep Impact is a great disaster movie which combines action and suspense with an effective use of sound that is tense and thrilling. James Horner of Titanic fame wrote the music which helps to create terror in the hearts of the audience.

Deep Impact runs the gamut of human emotions – fear, terror, sadness and compassionate love. It dazzles the eye with crumbling skyscrapers, exploding space rockets and great waves sweeping far inland. The saga is well told and the action is compelling. It has everything a disaster/action movie lover would want to see, plus a little extra.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazette.entertainment@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998