Deep Impact (Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray)

A comet is discovered to be on a collision course with Earth. As doomsday nears, the human race prepares for the worst.

April 27, 2023 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Oh Hollywood, will you ever learn? It’s been said that there are no original ideas when it comes to books and movies, namely because Shakespeare did them all. I don’t know if I totally believe that, but I will say that some of the “coincidences” with similarly-themed films is somewhat…uncanny. And genre isn’t a deal-breaker. We’ve had Wyatt Earp and Tombstone, Dante’s Peak and Volcano, Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line and perhaps the most famous of them all – Deep Impact and Armageddon. You’d figure there would be somewhat of a grace period with movies that, by and large, share the exact same plot. At any rate, this was 1998 and the world was still high on Titanic, which impacted (sorry, couldn’t resist) the plot of this film. If Armageddon was all about glamour and glitz, Deep Impact tried to show a more human side of what would happen if the world were to get hit by a comet. Ready for the end of the world? Neither were the characters in this film.

When a comet headed on a collision course for Earth is discovered, world governments go into secret preparation to find a solution that may save life on the planet. Meanwhile, an ambitious journalist (Téa Leoni) pursing a story she believes points to a sex scandal in the President’s cabinet, discovers what she thought was a woman (“Ellie”), is in fact government code for an ELE (extinction level event). The U.S. President (Morgan Freeman) is leading an international contingent with what they hope might be a species saving offense: sending astronauts to plant nuclear charges in the comet to either destroy it or change its trajectory from that of our planet’s orbit. And so the world sends their hopes up with the brave crew (led by Robert Duvall) of the spaceship Messiah, while bracing themselves for what could be the end of all human life.

As I mentioned earlier, there are some more “human” elements at work here. Ben Affleck isn’t trying to romance the daughter of Bruce Willis. If that’s your thing, you know what movie to watch. I’m sure that if this were to happen, I think we’d all be toast. Can we really set aside our differences and unite to find a common enemy?  I doubt it. Even with a global pandemic in Covid, we had division. Facts were right there, yet politics led the way. Go figure. But as many heartstrings that the film tried to pull on, it’s a science fiction movie first and foremost. Director Mimi Leder (The Peacemaker) assembled a great ensemble cast and the film wasn’t the flop that folks thought it’d be. It earned over $350 million worldwide (these are 1998 dollars, by the way) and though Armageddon beat it out, I think this one stood the test of time.

Video: How’s it look?

The last timeI saw this movie was in theaters in 1998. Yes, I realize it’s been on DVD and Blu-ray (and now 4K) for quite some time, but this is one that’s simply eluded me throughout the last quarter of a century. That being said, I really don’t have any basis of comparison other than the included Blu-ray. And why watch that when I’ve got a nice, shiny 4K disc? That said, Paramount has been a bit hit and miss with some of their catalog titles debuting on 4K. I was dubious, to be sure, about what this might look like but thankfully my tension was relieved about 23 seconds into the film. It’s beautiful. It’s gorgeous. And it’s in 4K. There’s a clarity that I wasn’t expecting and the 2.39:1 HEVC 4K image certainly pulls no punches. HDR is at work here, offering up deeper blacks and more colorful scenes all around. I’ve seen films from the early 2000’s on 4K that looked pretty dicey and I’ve seen them from the 50’s and 60’s that look absolutely stunning. Deep Impact is one of those titles that benefits from the 4K upgrade.

Audio: How’s it sound?

The lack of a Dolby Atmos track will be disappointing to many, for sure – though the included Dolby TrueHD track is no slouch. We have no antecedent as to what a comet hitting the Earth would sound like, but I have to imagine that the filmmakers gave us a pretty good impression. Surrounds are particularly active, especially during the “money shot” sequence. I used to demo Independence Day for my fraternity brothers (with my then limited sound system). It’s too bad that Deep Impact came out four days after I graduated as I’d have a new demo track for the guys. Oh well. Suffice it to say this one could have been a bit better with the addition of an Atmos track, but what’s included isn’t too shabby – not in the least.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Audio Commentary – Director Mimi Leder is joined by VFX Supervisor Scott Farrar in this “legacy” commentary. Admittedly, it wasn’t that bad and it’s full of tidbits of information about the shoot, some of the visual effects involved (obviously) and the overall allure of the project.
  • Preparing for the End – Some clips from the film are shown as are some interviews with the screenwriters as well as some footage from scientists who give us the low down on if this could actually happen or not.
  • Making an Impact – An overall look at the film, shooting some of the scenes, the effects for the comet sequence and some other assorted bits that surround the movie.
  • Creating the Perfect Traffic Jam – I can only imagine how stressful the end of the world might be if you’re stuck in traffic. We get some logistics of what it took to create this sequence.
  • Parting Thoughts – Basically, just that. We get some parting comments from all those involved (in the above featurettes).
  • Photo Gallery

The Bottom Line

There are no shortage of “end of the world” movies to choose from, but when it comes down to Deep Impact vs Armageddon, odds are the lines were (and have been) drawn for decades. I personally prefer this one. To me, this film has held up exceptionally well, though it did make me scratch my head and wonder whatever happened to Téa Leoni, Ron Eldard and Leele Sobieski. Paramount’s disc excels with a new 4K image, though it’d have been nice for some new supplements and an Atmos track. Maybe next time.

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