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File:Deepimpact 7107.jpg
Morgan Freeman's genteel, homespun mannerisms were perfect qualities for a president residing over a crisis. "OCEANS RISE. CITIES FALL. HOPE SURVIVES." WOW. Films about impending apocalypse fascinate you. Plus, a black president??? Now you've seen everything!

In 1998, Hollywood almost destroyed the Earth twice. This is about the one that didn't involve Bruce Willis.

Deep Impact is a 1998 sci-fi/drama film disaster disaster film released by Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks SKG in the United States. The film was directed by Mimi Leder, and stars Elijah Wood, Tea Leoni, Morgan Freeman and Robert Duvall. It is loosely based on a book by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle called Lucifers Hammer.

The plot follows these people:

  • a Teen Genius and amateur astronomer who discovers what turns out to be a previously unknown comet. He strongly values his girlfriend.
  • an Intrepid Reporter for MSNBC who thinks she's found a scandal when she asks a just-resigned cabinet member about "Ellie." Due to a misunderstanding, she believes "Ellie" is a mistress; the White House believes she's uncovered the truth and treats her accordingly, chasing her down with the Secret Service. She has an irascible father whom she is estranged from and a virtuous single mom as a boss, whose insistence on giving her lame stories is why she's so ambitious.
  • The president (played by Morgan Freeman), who announces some months late that an ELE -- an Extinction Level Event -- threatens the earth. But he has several plans involving a large underground bunker and a special shuttle.
  • The crew of the special shuttle, the younger members of which are a little grumpy about having an old-timer along.

There are many focal characters (the list may be incomplete), whose paths intersect in various ways but who are never all in the same scene nor all acting toward the same goal, instead of a single lead; in theory, this could be good. In practice, there isn't enough time for either proper Character Development or proper Stuff Blowing Up. This would have been better served as a miniseries. Still, some people prefer it to the OTHER asteroid impact movie, and stereotypes fly freely between the two fandoms.


This Movie Contains Examples Of:

  • Action Film Quiet Drama Scene
  • Altar the Speed
  • Apathetic Citizens: The throngs (far too many to simply be facing death with dignity) in New York City still going about their business downtown even though the President has warned everyone to get away from the Eastern seaboard.
    • Possibly justified-it's not like there's anywhere safe to go.
  • Apocalypse How: Almost Class 1-2, ultimately ends up a Class 0.
  • Big Applesauce: Disaster movies hate New York City.
  • Bittersweet Ending
  • But I Play One on TV: Morgan Freeman reported that during a press conference for the movie, many of the reporters called him "Mr. President".
  • Colony Drop
  • Cool Starship: The Messiah and its Orion Drive. In the movie, it's supposed to be the most ambitious spacecraft ever developed by man.
  • Demoted to Extra: Dougray Scott appears intermittently throughout the start and middle of the film. At the climax drawing straws for the last seat on a helicopter their seems to be the implication he and Tea Leoni's character are in some sort of romantic relationship, despite no prior build up. Implying this ended up on the cutting room floor.
  • Deus Ex Nukina
  • Disaster Movie
  • Driven to Suicide: Implied with Jenny's mother.
  • Dueling Movies: Set against Armageddon.
  • Dull Surprise: Andrea, as they fly up to the comet. "Look at them [the rocks barely missing the spacecraft], they're the size of houses.", yeah, and you sound really concerned.
  • Earth-Shattering Poster
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Created to put a million people underground for 2 years.
  • Emergency Presidential Address: The President makes the announcement about Wolf-Biederman, and then makes another announcement that the Messiah has failed, and that disaster is coming -- and if anyone has any way at all to get out of the path of destruction they better get going.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: The astronomer's ride couldn't just get hit by a truck, nooooo...
  • Face Death with Dignity: "Look on the bright side. We'll all have high schools named after us."
  • Failed a Spot Check: When the tsunami hits Manhattan, we see a man in a park reading a newspaper who doesn't notice the massive wave destroying the city until it swamps him. Doubly hilarious because everyone knew the asteroid was supposed to hit on that day, so even assuming someone did print a newspaper that morning, there would be nothing else worth reporting.
    • Considering he looks over 70 and wouldn't be eligible for the Ark as a result, it looks more like another instance of Face Death with Dignity.
  • Fatal Family Photo
  • Follow the Leader: Part of the disaster movie revival of the 90's.
  • Fulton Street Folly:Justified, in that the tidal wave naturally takes out the part of Manhattan Island that faces the bay.
  • Government Conspiracy: Played more realistically than most, they can only keep it secret for about a year. But still Constructing a massive Underground base requiring thousands of people and a new spacecraft. Surely someone would have blabbed sooner.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Though the crew of the Messiah counts (see below) counts, it's more about Jenny's last-second choice to give up her space on the Ark to a coworker and her baby daughter. This allows her to finally reunite and make peace with her father.
  • Hollywood Science: Deep Impact was lauded by critics and astronomers as more scientifically accurate than its rival, Armageddon. That's like saying Jurassic Park was more scientifically accurate than Godzilla.
    • You cannot determine the course and speed of a comet from one picture.
      • It is possible, sort of. Blue- and Redshifting occurs where the light from an interstellar object shifts slightly towards the blue end of the visible spectrum (implying that it is moving towards the observer, and therefore Earth) VS towards the red end of the visible spectrum (implying that the object is moving away from the observer, and therefore Earth), respectively. However, neither one is mentioned in the movie.
    • The gas on a comet does not start igniting the second sunlight hits it. For that matter, why is a comet (made of dust, ICE and small rocks) creating gas that ignites in space?
    • The blast from the first nukes cause damage to the ship when it's several miles away, meaning those are not low yield bombs, but somehow all that energy at ground zero of the blast just cause a clean separation of the comet into two. Then ICMBs launched at the comets later on fail to divert them, even though those missiles are powerful enough to level cities, which neither comet is bigger than. The comets aren't even solid rock. They're made of bits of rock in a bunch of gas and ice, the latter of which would be vaporized by the heat of a nuke. Of course this is for the sake of the story, but worthy of praise of scientific accuracy?
      • Consider that a city is gone when all its buildings are destroyed, not when there is a crate 500 feet deep and a few miles wide, which is something a nuke can't even come close to producing.
    • The tail of the comet is always shown trailing after it, because people think that's how comets look. Actually the so-called tail is always on the opposite side from the star the comet orbits.
    • Anyone close enough to see the comet's entry into the atmosphere would be pulverized from the soundwaves alone. Nobody on that Virginia highway would be alive to see the tsunami coming for them.
    • In reality, shattering the comet into many smaller pieces would make little difference. Would you rather get hit by a bowling ball thrown as fast as a car or the same bowling ball broken into chunks going as fast as a car? BOTH options HURT. Even if all those chunks burn up in the atmosphere, that's a lot of things burning up in the atmosphere in the same place at the same time. It still would be unpleasant for the planet.
    • Impact-induced waves don't travel like tsunamis do-they're a different type of wave, and they tend to peter out before they go more than a few dozen miles, a few hundred tops. Plus, waves have a hard time traveling very far inland because they're fighting gravity and friction with the ground along the way. This means that while Biederman would have doomed large swaths of Virgina, Maryland, North and South Carolina, and Delaware, the rest of the country and the world would have been fine.
      • The wave itself has a serious case of Hollywood Density. Water is heavy-a cubic meter weighs a metric ton, which is 2,205 lbs. At the bottom of the 3500-foot wave, the pressure would be 1,520 pounds per square inch. Every single skyscraper in Manhattan would have torn off its foundations and broken up into very, very small pieces.
  • Idiot Ball: The astronomer in the beginning panicking about his discovery. He knew the world had well over a year until impact, yet still drove recklessly despite how precious his cargo of information was.
  • Indy Ploy: The Intrepid Reporter thinks she's investigating a sex scandal involving a woman called Ellie...until the moment the President of the United States enters the room and demands "What do you know about E.L.E?" She has to bluff out a response on the spot.
  • In Space Everyone Can See Your Face: Averted. As the astronauts worked on the dark side of the comet their face shields were open, only closing them as the Sun approached the horizon. This scene also realistically portrays the effects of failing to use face shields when one astronaut fails to close their shield in time. The exposure of only a few seconds results in immediate permanent blindness and severe sun burn.
  • Made of Explodium: The astronomer's jeep, which is run off the road by a semi and explodes in midair.
    • Not to mention that his phone somehow broke at a convenient moment, leading him to take a high-speed chase to deliver the information; since of course seconds counted in stopping the comet-- and yet the crash delayed the discovery by over two months.
    • And the afore-mentioned space shuttle, which was more effective than all the nukes on earth at blowing the comet to pieces.
  • Mood Motif: Cue the tense strings...
  • Television Geography: It's to be expected in a film of this size.
    • Sarah's family is fleeing inland from Richmond, Virginia - stuck on the highway by a sign saying "Virginia Beaches 6 miles". Richmond is MUCH farther than 6 miles from the coast.
    • Along those same lines, there are no big hills such as the one Leo and Sarah find safety on within 6 miles of the coast there.
  • The Mountains of Illinois: Well, at least it was the same state...
    • The hill Leo proposes to Sarah on is rather obviously in Southern California.
  • Orion Drive: the Messiah has an Orion Pulse Drive.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Or tsunami in this case.
    • The force of the waves smacking off of the hills in the background should have shook the ground and made it difficult to run.
  • The Peter Principle: Jenny Lerner wasn't exactly a great reporter in the first place but got very lucky - and ended up being a stiff, nervous anchor.
  • Product Placement: For MSNBC. Leoni's character was originally supposed to work for CNN, but they rejected the offer, saying it would be "inappropriate." MSNBC jumped at the opportunity, since their network had only just been founded and wanted to get exposure.
  • Soft Water: A wave that tall would have scoured the entire East Coast to the bedrock.
  • Someone Has to Die: The crew of the Messiah sacrifice themselves so that everyone on Earth can survive.
  • Space Is Slow Motion
  • Suicide Mission: The crew of the starship Messiah assign themselves one last mission, well aware of the fact that they don't have enough fuel to get away after they they activated the nuclear bombs.
    • Surprisingly, no mention was made of the fact that, since their spacecraft uses an Orion Drive, its fuel supply is nuclear bombs.
  • Taking You with Me: Done to the comet.
  • The Messiah: In a literal and symbolic sense, the Messiah really does save the Earth with its final Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Sarah's parents. They let their child refuse to go into the ark tunnel and then when Leo comes back for her, they don't try to follow on foot just because he has a motorbike.
  • What Could Have Been: Producer Steven Spielberg expressed interest in directing early on.
  • While Rome Burns
  • Your Days Are Numbered: As soon as the Wolf-Biederman comet is revealed to the public, the world is told the projected timeline for the impact. First, the countdown to the Messiah mission begins, then to the actual catastrophe.
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