Deep Impact

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Deep Impact

a reveiw by Ari Armstrong

There are a lot of things I like about the film Deep Impact. It's a story about a comet on a collision course with Earth.

I like Morgan Freeman as the President. He is calm and respectable. I think I could almost admire a President like that (except for the actions I'll soon describe). I also like the sub-story of how a team of astronauts seeks to save the planet by blowing up the comet. It is a story of heroism. It reminds us, like Apollo 13, that even people working for the government can be good and noble and can get things right.

Some of the special effects are pretty good, though I don't much like the directing and/or editing; the film seems choppy and it doesn't always flow well.

What I most hate about the film are its strong Statist undertones. At first the viewer is relieved to learn that an alleged sex-scandal touching the white house is really just in important matter of "national security," a far cry from the actual state of Bill Clinton's presidency.

But then we learn that, what is mistakenly interpreted to be a sex-scandal, really is a government cover-up of the comet's approach and potential destructiveness. The government knows for a full year that the comet is on a collision course with earth, and yet it does not reveal this information to the public. Of course, this is totally unrealistic, as scores of astronomers would discover such a comet long before the point at which it is discovered in the film. But in the movie, the government knows, and keeps the information secret.

Obviously, this secrecy would have the effect of leaving people greatly under-prepared for the calamity. The government does develop plans both to destroy the comet and to save a million Americans during this year of secrecy, but this implies that it is solely the government's job to provide for our safety and that the government can properly prevent us from providing for our own safety. Out of the million people the government plans to save, a full fifth are to be government-picked (with the rest picked at random).

In addition to sealing crucial information, the President freezes wages and prices. "There will be no hoarding," he says. Well, that's easy for him to say, as he is fully prepared for the emergency. But the price freezes would only have the effect of creating horrible shortages, as anyone with a lick of economic sense knows, and preventing adequate production of survival goods. So, in the film, the government does everything it can to make sure everyone in the country dies, except for the lucky million.

Yet, at the end of the film, the first building shown to be rebuilt (after the entire East Coast is flooded) is the Capitol. Go figure.

Apparently, though, in the original screen-play, the government doesn't keep the information secret, because the comet bounces off a moon of Jupiter and spins off into Earth. A science advisor told them this was impossible (the comet would merely disintegrate), so, I'm guessing, this is when they added all the secrecy into the story. Too bad; they should have figured out some other way to make the comet unexpectedly veer off course; it would have made for a much stronger (and much less detestable) film.

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