The most disasterous disaster film…Deep Impact. As a follow on from Mark’s note about missing Armageddon (how does he fashion these nuggets!) he unfairly lumps Deep Impact in with a whole load of 96-98 disaster epics. On the surface it fits. It has after all almost an identical scenario to Armageddon. Except Deep Impact tells the much more likely story of the five million to one shots strung togther by Willis & Co failing. The asteroid is deflected only slightly and will therefore still make the Deep Impact of the title. Then what?
Well then it is a matter of in God we trust. Or in this case God’s representative in the White House, Morgan Freeman. Say what you like about US racial politics, but no-one blinked an eye when it was suggested that Freeman could be president. He has the gravitas. (Neverthless perhaps it says something that he is the president who fails, compare this to Bill Pullman’s fighter pilot Independence Day Prez). The hard decision starts here. Who do we save? What happens if we are saved and our love ones aren’t. And there really is no room for dogs.
This did not make for prime time joy. Concentrating on a bunch of people hand wringing over scientists/artists and the sure fire death of much of the population did not ring the cash registers. Sure the film had plenty of great destruction scenes – but this time we were all being destroyed. The only way to survive was to be
a) exceptional and needed (top biologist or engineer seems to win through here)
b) win a lottery.
Look at the audience demographics and weep for the box office takings.
Even Terminator 3, which has its own apocalypse, shies away from considering the lot of the survivors. John Connor and hastily invented future madonna of the machine wars are trapped in an archaic nuclear bunker as the world they knew is utterly destroyed. A few games of scrabble later and where are we. Fighting a war it is impossible to win. Machines have it, just because without machines we could not destroy Manhattan, Paris or whichever new city gets destroyed in the next big celluloid disaster movie. As long as someone can walk away, alive and preferably not in a hole in the ground, the films will always be about them.