Article 3813 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-12-2012
Posting Date: 1-22-2012
Directed by Ronald Neame
Featuring Sean Connery, Natalie Wood, Karl Malden
What it is: Disaster movie
A comet hits an asteroid, causing a huge piece of it to break off and head on a collision course with Earth. The only way to keep the meteor from hitting the Earth is to use nuclear weapons aboard satellites that aren’t legally supposed to be there. Can the Americans and Russians come to an agreement to save the world?
I went into this one expecting the worst, but I found myself enjoying it a lot more than I expected. Which is not to say that it doesn’t have its problems; for example, Connery’s character has a very bad case of Mamet Dammit (i.e. painfully bad cussing), and the movie occasionally gives into its worst melodramatic impulses, with the result that certain scenes are truly embarrassing. Yet I like the fact that, in comparison with other disaster movies, it keeps the soap opera aspects in check; they’re there, but kept to a minimum. I also actively enjoyed the game of diplomatic chess between the Russians and the Americans in which they jockey for a way for each side to save face to ensure cooperation. I also like the fact that the movie was aware of the dramatic problem of having the big climax involve a lot of waiting for something to happen, and got around that by dovetailing a secondary crisis to keep the movie from getting too tedious towards the end. Still, it does have a major problem in that some of its special effects aren’t up to snuff; the splinter meteors look more like glowing lights, and, despite the wealth of explosions, the climax doesn’t have a whole lot of bang to it. But as far as movies go, I’ve seen a lot worse… and some of it very recently.