Asteroid Review and Opinion

2019/06/30

Asteroid (1997)
Director: Bradford May

review by Steven Hampton

While big-budget SF blockbusters Armageddon and Deep Impact were hitting cinemas, TV offered us this similarly themed mini-series, now condensed to feature-length from its original three hours, for DVD release. The leads are an unusual pairing: Annabella Sciorra (pron: she-ore-uh) plays astronomer Dr Lily McKee, Michael Biehn fills the standard gung-ho action hero role as hands-on FEMA boss, Jack Wallach. The main plot sees a comet perturb the orbits of large asteroids, Helios and Eros, launching them both towards Earth.
   The disaster starts with the destruction of a dam causing massive urban floods, and proceeds apace to smash a major American city, when USAF operation Auger (involving laser beams fired from jet fighters) fails to destroy the asteroid threat. In the film's climax, bits and pieces of a shattered space rock rain down for hours.
   It must be said that although the visual effects for this catastrophe are superior to most films in this genre, the script of Asteroid is pure B-movie schlock, with a number of underwritten roles and some awfully expressionless dialogue. Biehn's fearlessness as a director of Federal Emergency Management Agency (a real-life US organisation, also at the centre of events in disaster movie, Volcano) is faintly ridiculous, perpetuating the modern American myth that bravery will always win the day - even if you're falling helplessly into a vast impact crater.
   Probably the best sequences, apart from the spectacular optical and miniature work, see the distraught Dr McKee searching for her father and son through a ruined Dallas, lit only by fires at night. These deliver haunting nightmare images of a post-holocaust cityscape on a frightening scale.
   Asteroid is a reasonably entertaining, if unexceptional, couple of hours for all action fans - if you don't mind the inevitable happy ending.previously published online, VideoVista #28

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