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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Deep Impact (4K Ultra HD Review)


The Film
The Video (Overall)
HDR Effect
The Audio
The Supplements


With a comet hurtling towards Earth, a crew of astronauts must head out into space to save Earth as the people on the planet come to terms with imminent death.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Deep Impact hit theaters in 1998 as part of what was a swell of disaster films in the 1990s that included such forgettable, mildly thrilling fare as Armageddon (1998), Dante’s Peak (1997), Volcano (1997), and Twister (1996). More films in the subgenre would follow as the 2000’s arrived, but eventually the craze would slow to a trickle of films.

Many of these films shared eerily similar plots and Deep Impact was not one to escape this, let’s call it, “coincidence.” Like Armageddon which concerned a massive asteroid hurtling its way towards Earth and a global, U.S.-led effort to avert the catastrophe, Deep Impact swaps the asteroid for a giant comet. Téa Leoni plays a reporter who uncovers the secret the government has been hiding before the President, played by Morgan Freeman, announces to the world what is happening.

A team of hot-shot astronauts are assembled with a veteran (Robert Duvall) to lead the mission. A super-spaceship has been built clandestinely to send the team to the comet and destroy it with a payload of nuclear warheads. The mission, as one might guess, does not go as smoothly as planned. Meanwhile, the people back on Earth must come to terms with facing possible extinction and death as a lottery is implemented to take those deemed qualified and necessary to the survival of humanity to a safe, underground bunker deep under the mountains. Young high school student Leo Biederman (Elijah Wood) whose amateur photo helped find the comet, must try to get his family and his girlfriend’s (Leelee Sobieski) family saved.

The direction from Mimi Leder, known mostly for directing TV movies and television series, takes the screenplay from Bruce Joel Rubin and Michael Tolkin and infuses as much thrills as possible. The best sequences come when we see the crew of astronauts (who include alongside Duvall, Jon Favreau, Mary McCormack, and Blair Underwood) approach and land on the comet and afterwards as disaster strikes their mission. There is an appropriate amount of tension and Duvall takes commanding control of the scenes.

Unfortunately, the film also bogs down in maudlin self-reflection. There are many scenes of self-sacrifice, some perplexing if we are all being honest, and philosophizing on life, religion, and heroism. This does nothing to drive the action of the what should be an easy-viewing popcorn film.

The visual effects for this film have not held up well over the years. Without giving anything away, let’s say that some scenes of water and crumbling buildings look very artificial – and this is just a year before The Matrix revolutionized CGI in film. As disaster films go, this plays all the basic notes, just a bit out of tune.

  • Deep Impact (1998)
  • Morgan Freeman in Deep Impact (1998)
  • Elijah Wood and Morgan Freeman in Deep Impact (1998)
  • Morgan Freeman in Deep Impact (1998)
  • Elijah Wood in Deep Impact (1998)
  • Téa Leoni in Deep Impact (1998)
  • Deep Impact 4K Ultra HD Combo (Paramount)
  • Deep Impact 4K Ultra HD Combo (Paramount)

The Video

Deep Impact comes to 4K Ultra HD with what Paramount says is “Fully remastered and boasting Dolby Vision and HDR-10.” The transfer is in 2.39:1 HEVC 2160p (4K UHD) Dolby Vision. The source looks clean and there is no worry with scratches or dirt even as the grain stays mostly organic and crisp. Some backgrounds appear to be a little smooth, but the overall look is pleasing. The Dolby Vision coding gives excellent specular highlight ‘pop’ particularly in the scenes set in the spaceship and around the comet. Be prepared for the additional resolution in 4K to reveal some less-than-stellar VFX that do not hold up well, especially when comparing this film to something like The Matrix which released a year later.

The Audio

Deep Impact comes with the original Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix that it his Blu-ray with in 2015. This mix still holds up well with lots of resounding bass and full use of the surround channels. Dialogue has good clarity with no hints of clipping.

The Supplements

Deep Impact comes with a collection of previously released bonus features, including an audio commentary with Leder. They all reside on the included Blu-ray.

  • Digital Code
  • Non-remastered Blu-ray with Feature Film and all Bonus Features
  • Commentary by Director Mimi Leder and Visual Effects Supervisor Scott Farrar
  • Preparing for the End (SD; 00:08:56)
  • Making an Impact (SD; 00:12:08)
  • Creating the Perfect Traffic Jam (SD; 00:06:14)
  • Parting Thoughts (SD; 00:04:50)
  • Photo Gallery (1080p)
  • Teaser Trailer (1080p; 00:02:06)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 00:03:42)

The Final Assessment

Paramount has given Deep Impact a solid 4K release that exposes some of the flaws in the CGI from this 1998 disaster flick. Regardless, it works to pass the time and has some exhilarating moments.

Deep Impact is out on 4K Ultra HD Combo May 2, 2023 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

  • Rating Certificate: PG-13 (for intense disaster related elements and brief language)
  • Studios & Distributors: Paramount Pictures | Dreamworks Pictures | Zanuck/Brown Productions | Manhattan Project | Amblin Entertainment | Paramount Home Entertainment
  • Director: Mimi Leder
  • Written By: Bruce Joel Rubin | Michael Tolkin
  • Run Time: 121 Mins.
  • Street Date: 2 May 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K UHD)
  • HDR Format: Dolby Vision
  • Primary Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
  • Secondary Audio: German DD 5.1 | Spanish (Castilian) DD 5.1 | French DD 5.1 | Japanese DD 5.1
  • Subtitles: English | English SDH | German | Spanish (Castilian) | Spanish (Latin American) | French | Japanese

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With a comet hurtling towards Earth, a crew of astronauts must head out into space to save Earth as the people on the planet come to terms with imminent death. Deep Impact (4K Ultra HD Review)