Deep Impact - Special Collector's Edition Studio: Paramount Year: 1998 Rated: PG-13 Length: 121 minutes Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1, anamorphically enhanced Audio: English & French Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround English subtitles; Closed Captioned in English Special Features: Commentary by Mimi Leder and Scott Farrar; four featurettes, photo gallery, teaser trailer, theatrical trailer Release Date: October 5, 2004 Deep Impact came out at about the same time as a very similar film about the same subject - Armageddon. They are both “end-of-the-world” disaster films about a comet impact threatening the continuing survival of life on Earth. While Armageddon showed more style and humor, Deep Impact is arguably the better film. Performances are less of the comic book style, and the science is a bit more realistic. Deep Impact takes itself seriously, rather than being a tongue-in-cheek disaster film like Armageddon. The film follows the lives of different people as they prepare for the coming doomsday. Leo Beiderman (Elijah Wood) is a high school student and amateur astronomer who discovers the comet. Tea Leoni is an MSNBC reporter who uncovers the impending doom that the White House wants to keep secret. Morgan Freeman is the President. In space, we follow Robert Duvall and a group of astronauts as they rendezvous with, and attempt to destroy or deflect, the comet before it impacts Earth. Deep Impact is a competent blend of sci-fi and disaster. Video Deep Impact is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and it is anamorphically enhanced for widescreen televisions. Most of the film displays good detail, though there are a few scenes that come across as rather soft. Edge enhancement doesn’t appear to be a problem. Colors are true and accurate, and are well saturated. The image has good contrast, with only an occasional and slight lack of detail in shadows. A few scenes come off as very slightly muddy in appearance, perhaps a result of the original photography. Grain is mild to nonexistent. Occasional moire effects appear, but infrequently and not to the point of distraction. The print is clean, showing only an occasional speck of dust. There are no visible sharpening or compression artifacts in the transfer. This is, overall, a good and clean anamorphic transfer of a clean print. Audio The Dolby Digital 5.1 track offers up adequate channel separation, delivering good spatial cues in a fairly open soundfield. Low Frequency Effects are impressive, when called for, delivering a window rattling experience. Occasionally, though, there is low frequency information that isn’t really called for, and that can be a mild distraction in a couple of spots in the film. Dialog is consistently clean and clear. Sound effects are sharp and detailed. Music comes across cleanly. This is an adequate soundtrack with decent surround effects and strong LFE, though it doesn’t really “wow” me with spatial detail and surround effects. I would rate it at average or slightly above for a film of this type. Special Features Commentary with Director Mimi Leder and Special Effects Supervisor Scott Farrar Right off, they talk about Deep Impact being more scientifically accurate than the other comet disaster film to come out around the same time, Armageddon. Certainly, there is a lot of scientific license taken with this film, but it definitely takes itself more seriously than Armageddon. Discussion covers everything from effects shots to production schedules, budgetary consideration, location shooting, etc. Neither participant is overly animated in this commentary, but there is some good discussion on various aspects of the film. Overall, the commentary is broad, but not deep. As far as commentaries go, this doesn’t rate very highly. Those who are big fans of the film may want to give it a listen, though. Preparing for the End (8:56) Discussions of commentary impacts by scientists in 1994, focusing in the Jupiter impacts, are intercut with screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin’s recollection of being approached by Steven Spielberg to write an epic remake of George Pal’s When Worlds Collide. Mimi Leder talks about coming on board, with no previous science fiction interest or experience. Further, she discusses the casting for the film. Making an Impact (12:09) This featurette jumps around for a couple of minutes, before landing on its focus of visual effects. Storyboards, animatics, CGI, practical effects, and set design are discussed. 12 minutes is just enough time to gloss over the high points. It is not long enough to go into detail on the visual effects. Creating the Perfect Traffic Jam (6:14) An interesting short piece on the logistics of bringing over 2000 extras, 1000 vehicles and over one mile of abandoned highway together for the traffic jam sequence. One of the more difficult aspects of the shoot was directing and communicating with so many people over so large a space. The production team actually utilized an AM radio frequency for one-way communication with all the extras. Feeding and hydrating 2000 people on a hot day is also discussed. Parting Thoughts (4:50) This is a discussion of the test screenings of the film, and the cuts that resulted from the early reactions to the film. We see a few brief clips of some of the cut sequences. Considering that about 45 minutes was cut from the original screening, it would have been nice to have a collection of some of the more pertinent deleted scenes as their own special feature. Photo Gallery Teaser Trailer Theatrical Trailer Final Thoughts Deep Impact is enjoyable fluff, a good night’s entertainment for disaster film and sci-fi film fans alike. A so-so commentary and a little over thirty minutes of mildly interesting special features round out this special collector’s edition.