A Somber Collision

Through all the times Irwin Allen destroyed cities in his ‘70s era disaster films, and as many times as Hollywood took out humanity through climate-based disasters or alien invasions, none did it better than Deep Impact. Not for the destructive spectacle; Deep Impact has surprisingly little, and the visual effects lack the sizzle they once carried.

Instead, it’s because of Tea Leoni, standing in fear on the seashore with her previously disowned father, waiting for a cataclysmic tidal wave to end their lives. Rarely does disaster claim the lead actor’s life. Here, she’s obliterated when humanity fails. There’s something inherently human about the acceptance, the defeat, and reality that drives Deep Impact’s drama to that moment (even if Leoni’s broadcast journalist shtick before lacks the same real world conviction).

Deep Impact’s faults happen only when trying to copy the genre’s soapiest elements

Morgan Freeman too, playing a level-headed, authentic, and dignified leader, truthful to the tensions of such a moment. If only, were Deep Impact’s scenario ever to become real, we’re fortunate to have a President with his grace, then as world we can consider ourselves lucky.

Deep Impact’s faults happen only when trying to copy the genre’s soapiest elements. Leoni’s feud with a rival anchor seems awfully tiny compared to a planet killing rock, and Elijah Wood’s romance alongside Leelee Sobieski at the end of civilization seems more driven by Deep Impact’s date night marketability than reality. However, it’s not without payoff, aiding the dramatic, emotional flux as the comet begins appearing in Earth’s daylight skies; that visual too holds more nuance and conveyance of looming extinction than anything prior.

The industry’s brief flirtation with resurrecting the disaster genre (pre-9/11, before such images were rendered more cautiously) led to numerous takes on these events. Of course, Armageddon cozied up to a pop approach, soundtrack and all as Bruce Willis saved the Earth to a point of parody. Volcano and Dante’s Peak went for volcanic catastrophe, and one of those saw Tommy Lee Jones jumping into hot lava flows for its major action set piece.

There remain two ways to court audiences to watch their possible demise. One uses truthful melodrama, the other outrageous imagery. Deep Impact is the former, a rarity because most executives and producers know the selling point lies in watching skyscrapers collapse. Deep Impact holds that until the final frames, and does so with a moment of wishful hope, even after losing the star character. It’s not so much about saving the world as compared to celebrating what’s left.


A flawless stunner from Paramount, this is their best catalog effort in a while. No noise reduction, filtering, or processing is noted. Deep Impact’s film stock breathes freely, and the pristine 4K scan is lush in detail. Texture astounds behind a crisply resolved grain structure. It’s some of the purest, most convincingly film-like ’90s catalog title on the format to date.

Masterfully rendered color doesn’t show any digital tinkering either, leaving flesh tones pure, primaries glowing, and absolute vividness where allowed (explosions, for one), giving Deep Impact endless purity.

Black levels? Check. Their density and deepest levels spare detail to avoid crush while still delivering the tightness needed. Peak contrast holds until the required moments, which again, is explosions. The fireballs allow a blindingly bright high point.


Sadly, Deep Impact features a copycat Dolby TrueHD track pulled from the Blu-ray. The choice, while disappointing considering the Atmos/DTS:X potential, doesn’t alter the fantastic soundstage. Ambiance before the destruction captures the cityscapes and roadways naturally. Deep Impact always makes sure to have something moving about the speakers.

Come time for the major blasts, LFE erupts, rumbling the room and convincingly (in a simulated way) the planet. Subwoofer support makes the most of the available range, the shaking beefy and satisfying.


Extras copy the original Blu-ray – and only on the Blu-ray. A commentary comes from director Mimi Leder and visual effects supervisor Scott Farrar. Three featurettes focus on the various parts of development, Preparing for the End detailing the conceptual origins, Making the Impact on the locations, and Parting Thoughts on various post-production topics, including the untimely death of cinematographer Dietrich Lohmann. Creating the Perfect Traffic Jam is an additional piece focused on the complexity of shooting the final scenes and keeping extras in line. A photo gallery and trailers remain.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Deep Impact
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Authentically dramatic even against bunk science, Deep Impact remains the best killer-rock-from-space movie ever made.

User Review
3 (2 votes)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 47 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:

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