Monday, September 21, 2009

Jay's Review: Impact (or: "I Do Loves Me A Disaster Movie")

There's nothing like a disaster movie, and I do love me a disaster! Check me out on



A rogue asteroid smashes into the moon in a tremendous explosion of rock and debris. Within, days, disastrous abnormalities start happening on Earth. What started as the most beautiful and the largest meteor shower in 10,000 years unexpectedly becomes the catalyst for a potential collison (sic) between the moon and planet Earth. The world's leading scientists, Alex Kittner (David James Elliott, TV's Jag) and Maddie Rhodes (Natasha Henstridge, Species) have 39 days to stop the moon's course or the Earth - and all of mankind - will perish. Also starring James Cromwell (W. and The Green Mile). The countdown is on.


If you enjoy a good disaster movie, you’ll probably find a lot to like here. The formula for these pictures is a big, huge impeding disaster counter pointed by your hero’s humdrum domestic squabbles. Impact doesn’t disappoint. Our dashing lead is David James Elliott as Alex Kittner. Sure, he’s a whiz at electromagnetism who worked for NASA, but more importantly for our purposes he’s a widower with 2 kids he’s loathe to leave and a Father-In-Law who’s agoraphobic (James Cromwell at his crustiest). When he gets a call from Natasha Henstridge’s Dr. Maddie Rhodes - perhaps the world’s most stunning Astronomer - to come help save the world from a Moon that’s breaking ALL the laws of Physical Science - he’d like to help... but he just can’t leave his kids. Even his shared past of near-romance with Maddie, who comes saddled with a tabloid journalist Ex and Doubting Thomas assistant (they discuss faith v. reason three times in some desperate attempt to give the story depth), almost isn’t enough to convince him.

But of course he helps. How can he not when Europe and America are effected by incredibly silly gravity issues and static electricity surges? Steven Culp shows up as The President mostly just to ask the scientists on behalf of the audience to dumb down the elaborately silly sci-fi babble this flick keeps throwing at us. In the end they’ll team with Benjamin Sadler as a German Scientist who’s been neglecting his plucky, knocked-up fiancĂ©e to save the world and maybe, just maybe, blow up the moon.

It’s long, it’s fun, it’s got decent special effects. The cosmic shots of a crumbling moon and showpiece train derailment are more accomplished than I’d expected out of a TV movie. You’ll also see children act badly as they weep over loss and the world come together, united in multi-national harmony as it preps astronauts to tackle a threat from outer space. Mostly, you’ll go through 2 bowls of popcorn as you enjoy a pulpy, sci-fi miniseries that satisfies...along as you don’t think too deeply about the science.

The DVD splits Impact into Parts 1 and 2 without offering a continuous play feature. You've got the option of English subtitles, Dolby 5.1 Audio, separate Scene Selections for Parts 1 and 2, and a trio of special features:
-"Making of Impact" is a 25 minute press-kit behind-the-scenes promo feature. You’ll probably find James Cromwell less compelling when he’s not acting, and Natasha Henstridge charming.
-"Creating Zero Gravity" is an 11.5 minute feature going behind the scenes on the various gravity-bending FX shots in the mini-series. Interesting to anyone who likes a "how'd they do that" explanation.
-3 "Deleted Scenes"

190 minutes of 70s style disaster-movie bliss, though perhaps a little more focused on big cosmic scientific problems than domestic issues, Impact is a excellent “snow day” title. It’s a little padded and pokey in places, but easy to follow and as clear as purposely opaque made-up science is going to get. B- stars and B+ effects come together in an enjoyable mini-series that can be enjoyed by older kids up to adults.


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