Saturday, January 20, 2007

Impact of a Semi-Deep Nature

It's cold outside, I got the house all to myself, and I'm feeling in a kind of fatalist mood... what better time to take in DEEP IMPACT on TNT?

DI was one of two comet-themed disaster movies to come out in 1998, the other being the more popular ARMAGEDDON. They were both pretty bad movies, and they both had the same impossible set of goals - make a film which promises to show you the end of the world and then delivers a happy ending. Come to think of it, INDEPENDENCE DAY had the same problem and they solved it by actually dismantling civilization; the happy ending is the revenge killing of the alien race. If they had been more honest about it, ID is a very grim story indeed, and perhaps thats why the sequel hasn't emerged.

Of the two comet movies, DI is the one most influenced by Irwin Allen. A series of big-name stars pursue their own separate agendas, from stopping the comet to reconciling with their parents. Where the movie fails, I think, is trying so hard to avoid the cheesy excesses of Irwin Allen. THE TOWERING INFERNO and THE POSEIDEN ADVENTURE succeed partially on the strength of their sheer artifice - the bad writing and somnambulent acting give you a little distance from the tragic stories of these movies. It actually becomes funny watching these poor bastards burst into flames and plummet to their deaths. That's Entertainment!

I had high hopes for DI when I learned that the screenplay was credited to Bruce Joel Rubin and Michael Tolkin. Rubin is famous for, among other projects, GHOST, JACOB'S LADDER and BRAINSTORM -- movies about the afterlife. Tolkin is behind DEEP COVER, THE PLAYER, and THE RAPTURE, which have the darkest of dark sensibilities. You'd expect the comet to hit halfway through, and for the rest of the movie to be taken up with tales of people dying off during the consequent ice age.

As much as I dislike the work of Michael (ARMAGEDDON) Bay, his direction at least actively annoys me, while Mimi (DEEP IMPACT) Leder puts me to sleep. She has made a career of smoothing the rough edges off of projects that could have used them. I suppose it's all the television experience, but she really seems to flatten out any project she's involved with. Maybe it's just me. Some people loved PAY IT FORWARD.

Anyway, so the Earth isn't destroyed in DEEP IMPACT, and that disappoints me to this day. Sorry if I gave anything away. Oh, and Tea Leoni dies.

By the way, TNT did something that I hope isn't the first sign of a trend. You know how they'll take the credits, put them in a window and run ads for other stuff at the ends of movies? This is the first time I've ever seen this: TNT windowized the credits for Deep Impact, and launched right into the next movie in a separate window. Not only that, the other movie was ALSO DEEP IMPACT. They were running it again! It's wrong on so many levels I'm surprised that Martin Scorsese isn't testifying before congress about it now.

1 comment:

Reel Fanatic said...

You're dead right .. I never thought it would be possible to make a comet movie that was just thoroughly boring, but Ms. Leder somehow managed to accomplish the feat