Deep Impact (1998) -vs- Armageddon (1998)

Deep Impact vs Armageddon @ Movie Smackdown

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It’s the End of the World as We Know It. Back in 1998, during the Year of Lewinsky, Paramount/DreamWorks got into a game of chicken with Touchstone. The result was two disaster films about comets that were about to crash into the Earth and destroy all life. The two films could share a single log-line:

When a “planet-killer” sized comet is discovered to be on an imminent collision course with Earth, an international space effort — led by the United States — sets out to deflect the object by setting off nuclear weapons deep inside its core so that it will miss Earth and, therefore, save humanity.

I won’t tell you how the Earth fared yet, but I can tell you that the point of impact in the theaters was about two months apart. Talk about operational redundancy!

Deep Impact was the first in the theaters but it was Armageddon that won the battle of the box-office.  Armageddon grossed $553-million world-wide to the Deep Impact gross of $349-million.  Incredibly, IMDB (the Internet Movie Database) has it as a virtual tie with both films scoring a 5.9 out of ten audience rating.

However we split that atom, the point is that the summer of 1998 gave us a cinematic laboratory experiment in how the same story can yield entirely different results. I can vouch for this having watched these two films back-to-back. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… we have lift-off…

Deep Impact

Deep Impact made the first strike of the Comet Wars when it hit the theaters in May of 1998.  As scripted by able scribes Bruce Joel Rubin and Michael Tolkin, it starts when a teenage kid, Leo Biederman (Elijah Woods) discovers an unusual comet.  A year later, an MSNBC reporter Jenny Lerner (Tea Leoni) stumbles across the fact that the government’s been preparing for this challenge in secret.  She breaks the story of a lifetime and is rewarded with a plum anchor job (not kidding, that’s the storyline).  The President, played by Morgan Freeman, appears many times in his increasingly desperate national addresses.  Toss in Robert Duvall as the last man to walk on the moon and the guy chosen to fly the mission to save Earth, using a specially designed spaceship known as the Messiah. Ultimately, though, nothing works the way it’s supposed to work and the government selects a million citizens to put in an underground bunker where they can ride out the annihilation for two years.  The film, directed by TV vet Mimi Leder, is capped with an actual partial comet strike that wipes out the Eastern seaboard of the United States.

Armageddon

There are a lot of people out there who actually hate this movie — from Roger Ebert to about a thousand bloggers, all of whom seem to feel that director Michael Bay is the spawn of the Devil and that producer Jerry Bruckheimer has been his enabler. Among the handful of screenwriters involved here, there were some good ones, including J.J. Abrams. The plot is basically this: an asteroid “the size of Texas” is about to crash into the Earth and destroy all life. The only way to stop it, NASA reasons, is to blow it up before it hits and to do that they will need to send a team of oil drillers there with a hefty nuke to get the job done. Enter Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Steve Buscemi, Michael Clarke Duncan, and even Owen Wilson and they have names like Chick, Rockhound and Bear. Back at home, throw in Billy Bob Thornton (who plays the best NASA guy I’ve ever seen, in my opinion) and Liv Tyler (Affleck’s love interest and Willis’s daughter). These guys join up with some Russians and hitch a ride on a Space Shuttle that’s been configured to do things that no Space Shuttle could probably dream of and off they go.

The Scorecard

I don’t mean to claim to be an expert on disaster movies, but I did win a WGA award for writing one back in 2008, Pandemic, a project I did on the heels of the NBC miniseries The Poseidon Adventure.  And, back about five years before these two films came out, I wrote a Lois & Clark episode about Superman stopping a meteor from crushing the Earth, “All Shook Up.”  It was a re-imagining of that classic “Adventures of Superman” episode, “Panic in the Sky.”  So whether any of that qualifies as expertise or not, I’ll let others decide, but I’ve definitely spent time thinking about this topic.

So one of the most important things in a disaster film is setting up the stakes to extract maximum tension.  In Armageddon, there are numerous smaller chunks of falling space rock that show us how devastating the effects can potentially be when the big one gets here.  New York suffers greatly, and Paris is wiped out entirely.  In Deep Impact, however, there are no early strikes and the “planet killer” nature of the threat is never visualized. The former is visceral; the latter is cerebral.

The tension with the space crew is also important.  In Deep Impact, it’s eviscerated by the less-impactful storylines going on back on Earth.  Will Tea Leoni be up to the anchor’s job?  Will Mom & Dad get back together?  Will the geek get better sex?  In Armageddon, the job in space is Job One and everything is about supporting that piece of the film.  There’s a good preamble getting ready, but once they’re out there, so is the film.

While it’s true that on their most basic level they are the same plot, there’s also a world of difference.  Armageddon shifts the focus to space once its out there while Deep Impact tries to keep at least half as much action on Earth as out the void.  The best example of Deep Impact misfiring in this regard is that their POV into the crisis is primarily from the MSNBC newsroom.  They’re played like they’re the news leaders of the world (which they’re not) and, in any case, watching someone report about what’s happening in space just isn’t as compelling as watching the touch-and-go taking place out there.  The thing is, I kept asking myself why I cared if Tea Leoni got the “scoop of the century.” Really, reporter stories aren’t usually that compelling anyway but when
the fate of humanity is on the table, I don’t care if she beats CNN or not.  In contrast, Armageddon has NASA for its institutional POV.  And, as I said, Billy Bob Thornton has never, ever been better in a serious role.

From a scientific accuracy point-of-view, the call probably goes to Deep Impact but not by much.  Both of these films are wildly off in terms of how these space rocks would be sighted, how much time we’d have to prepare, and how prepared we’d be to do anything about them.  The thing is, if the drama in them makes you want to know more about the real situation, then there’s some great stuff to read out there.  These are disaster movies on a topic where even the scientists are divided about some key issues they address.  I know some of the flying around in Armageddon is a stretch but they do that stuff in Deep Impact, too.  It goes with the territory.

As far as character development goes, yes, it’s true that Armageddon has a group out there that probably would never have been sent, but you do get to know them and like them.  The Deep Impact team never comes alive at all and the people focused on at home do not rise to the occasion.  And, by the way, both films have Russians along for the ride but the guy on Deep Impact speaks maybe a sentence while the guy on Armageddon actually is fun and a has a role in the resolution of the story.

The rap on Armageddon is the idiot crew and while part of that is fair, the truth is that Deep Impact has enough idiot characters of its own.  There’s the idiot pilot who’d rather bitch about Duvall being on board than just suck it up and save mankind.  There’s the idiot reporter who can speak only haltingly on camera.  There’s the idiot kid who goes looking for his fiance in a crowd of millions and actually finds her.  Let’s call that a wash.

In Armageddon, people are giving up families, lovers, and life to give the world a chance to survive. Even when the action is over-the-top, these people are still behaving heroically.  In Deep Impact, there is no real connection between the people in space and the people at home (other than the obvious) until they utter tearful goodbyes at the end.  Armageddon earns the tears and Deep Impact doesn’t.

Armageddon has a great movie moment when William Fichtner’s Colonel William Sharp points a gun at Willis and makes him swear on the lives of his children that he can do what he says he can do with a drill. I always get goose-bumps because, crazy as that situation is, at that moment in the movie it’s real and you care.  I don’t recall any moments in Deep Impact where I actually felt the people on the ship were anything but good actors stuck in less-than-great parts. That’s really the big difference between the films. Armageddon has characters who actually, honestly feel like real people (given the heightened situation) who actually, honestly understand the stakes in what they’re being asked to do.  Plus, Armageddon actually manages to have some fun along the way, something that is completely missing in Deep Impact.

Armageddon is full of plot reversals where victories are short-lived, things that were supposed to go one way go the other, and so on. Granted, it’s contrived, too, but it works very well on its own level. Deep Impact ambles through its surprises without any discernible energy.

People have pointed out that they could probably have lived a full and complete life without seeing Ben Affleck eating animal crackers off of Liv Ullman’s belly in Armageddon and I won’t argue the point.

And the winner is…

The Decision

Armageddon is better written, for sure, and in terms of a crowd-pleasing vibe, it’s better directed.  I’m sure this is going to rile a few people up, but I’m not only saying Armageddon is the superior film but I’m saying it with emphasis!

Maybe no one will ever read another review I ever write after this, but Bruckheimer and Bay delivered the ultimate popcorn movie in my opinion. I’ve seen it probably six times, usually with my kids who, like me, just enjoyed seeing it repeatedly. We’ve gotten to the point where we can call out lines and start screaming before something happens.  For us, it works and works well. And the music is clearly superior.

Like I say, I know this will forever discredit my opinion to the Bay-haters out there but I would ask them to do what I’ve done which is to screen these films back-to-back ten years later.  Deep Impact turns out, on repetition, to be more like “Shallow Impact.”

Not every film has to work for everybody. This one just worked for me.  If you’re going to spend two hours at the end of the world, spend them with Armageddon.

Here’s the beauty of this Smackdown, though.  You get to express your own opinion.  Spread the word about this poll and let others vote.  We’re very curious to see what people think about these films now that they’ve had over a decade to let them cool.

Smack Classix Week: Rise of the Doppelgangers


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About Bryce Zabel

Drawing inspiration from career experiences as a CNN correspondent, TV Academy chairman, writer/producer and fast-food cook, Bryce is the Editor-in-Chief of Movie Smackdown. While he freely admits to having written the screenplay for the reviewer-savaged "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation," he hopes the fact that he also won the Writers Guild award a couple of years ago will cause you to cut him some slack. He's also a member of the Directors Guild, creator of five primetime network TV series, and author of a new non-fiction book about UFOs.
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82 Responses to Deep Impact (1998) -vs- Armageddon (1998)

  1. Bobby Joe Oatmeal says:

    Just saw Deep Impact for the first time! I must have been in a limestone cave all these years! Of course like most idiots I saw and enjoyed Armageddon several times, haha! Damn interesting to compare/contrast these two flicks since freakishly similar in basic plot but with such different treatments, tone, focus, etc. The estrogen/testosterone angle is a good generalization, but both movies offer a variety of chain-yanking, hormone stimulating appeals, as well as plot holes. The “hole” that stuck out to me the most in Deep Impact was how only Robert Duvall’s fatherly character (who reads a bed time story to the youngin’!) is able to think of using the other nukes—not any of the other heroes, not any of the engineers in Houston, not even Morgan Freeman! Anyway, Armageddon is like one rambunctious, kick-ass night in a bar with buddies compared to a four day family tourist vacation, which is to say there’s many more little tidbits in Deep Impact, even if they are at times milder and appreciated on a different level. I’d watch Deep Impact again. And all you Tea Leoni haters out there step aside and get out of my way…she’s one tall, uniquely beautiful babe!

  2. Chip Tarbutton says:

    Neither film is a”good film.” Both have gaping plot holes and scientific issues galore. Both are silly. But Armageddon is a much more enjoyable film.

    Deep Impact tries unsuccessfully to straddle the line between Hollywood blockbuster and serious movie. The space sequences aren’t nearly as compelling as Armageddon although I do think the resolution is more realistic than the absolutely ridiculous Armageddon. I’ve read some of the reviews here that praise Deep Impact’s “realistic” earth bound story line. That is were the movie truly fails. Bad dialogue, poor performances and a hackneyed story hamper the efforts of the serious portion of Deep Impact. A better treatment of the “we are all doomed” scenario is the classic movie “On the Beach.” Deep Impact never even gets in the same ballpark with that film in capturing human emotions. Deep Impact wants to be a good movie and ultimately fails….it wants to be a summer blockbuster and it also fails there….

    It wants to be really good but comes up short.

    Armageddon doesn’t seem to have such pretense. It just wants you to have fun and munch on popcorn.

    Armageddon happily shucks almost any hint of scientific reality and deeper meaning on it’s quest to entertain. Anything that bogs down the story is happily jettisoned, much like an external fuel tank.

    Sure it is dopey and silly but the story and characters plunge full steam ahead at a lightning pace and its an entertaining ride filled with lots of twists and turns with witty JJ Abrams dialogue and memorable characters.

    Suspension of disbelief is absolutely a requirement here, but Armageddon succeeds at being a mindless adventure yarn. Deep Impact fails on most levels.

    Armageddon wins….

  3. Andrew says:

    Armageddon is simply much better on virtually every level compared to Deep Impact. Special effects, soundtrack, action, acting etc…
    What I find amusing is that people are judging the movie based on the “science”, as though that was never a problem in other movies. These people must worship science as a religion (science is just a tool we humans use, a tool that itself changes overtime relative to the technology we develop, nothing more and nothing less).
    What’s even more hilarious is that most of these people just read that the science is not accurate and feel they must make a stand for science. I must say these are quite heroic individuals, they must feel they’ve accomplished quite a bit in life.
    Me on the other hand, I feel that they were beaten or sexually abused as children, in my opinion. What else could account for a such a sick mind?
    The mentally ill critic is a very serious individual.

  4. Chris says:

    Finally, a good analysis of the two movies, and one I couldn’t agree with more.

    In response to many of the statements regarding ‘Deep Impact ‘ as a more scientifically correct movie, this must be realized considering most of Deep Impact takes place on Earth, where sci fi special effects are not needed. Yes, Armageddon messes up science quite a bit more, but it’s not fair to say Deep Impact is more accurate concerning astrophysics when it doesn’t even take on that issue as much as Armageddon does. Armageddon takes on the challenge, with way more scenes in space, and sure they mess up the science, but at least they do it in a more cinematically exciting experience than Deep Impact did. Plus all the other stuff that everyone else said, Armageddon, in my opinion, is a way better movie than Deep Impact…

  5. Pingback: » Movie Review – Deep Impact vs Armageddon – It’s the End Of the World As We Know It! Fernby Films

  6. YnnaGH says:

    I watched Deep Impact last night and its so boring. I thought it was better bec. of good reviews and Armageddon “hate”. Armageddon is fun to watch and has more action and funny scenes plus they have better and fun characters, real tearjerker, never get tired of watching this. Deep Impact was the first one, Armageddon probably got an idea from the first movie but Armageddon did it better. So.. Armageddon wins for me! :)

  7. Glenn LeDrew says:

    As an amateur astronomer–actually, as one who possesses a reasonable sprinkling of scientific knowledge–some semblance of an adherence to the laws of physics counts for much in the movies. Most certainly where ‘science’ is part of the plot. This is why “2001 a Space Odyssey”, in spite of being released way back in ’68 (!), to this day arguably sits at the pinnacle of sci-fi films. (If for no other reason than that the Apollo hoaxers use it to ‘justify’ their assertion that Kubrik helped fake the missions.)

    “Armageddon” had me almost continually groaning and rolling my eyes at the flagrant violations of the laws of nature, some of which some grade schoolers could spot. Apparently, NASA folks have identified 168 technical errors, which is an average of more than one a minute. If we leave out obvious films of fantasy, sci-fi/horror, space opera, camp and low-budget dreck, “Armageddon” almost certainly leads the pack in the sheer density of outlandish departures from reality.

    It must be said that a movie has to be entertaining. And “Armageddon” certainly is. Mr. Bay knows how to engage an audience. At times I was caught up in the perils and reversals of the protagonists. I laughed. I even shed a tear or two. In spite of my all-too-frequently being yanked back to reality.

    “Deep Impact” was *much* truer to the science. Yes, there were necessary and unnecessary inaccuracies, but probably a full order of magnitude fewer than those riddling its rival. It was much more slowly paced, and uniformly somber in tone. But emotionally more realistically portrayed. A more cerebral treatment. I didn’t laugh here, but I did shed a few tears.

    If I were to choose for a school class the film which better conveys the likely scenario were an impact hazard to arise, “Deep Impact” all the way. But if I wanted to entertain those same kids, as much as my inner scientist rebels, it would–grudgingly–be “Armageddon.”

    In the final analysis, “Deep Impact” is the better film, from my point of view.

    • Carlos Sanchez Trujillo says:

      I agree completely with Glenn LeDrew; “Armageddon” is a film made just to entertain teenagers, with a complete disdain for scientific accuracy. “Deep Impact”, on the other hand, is a much more serious film, which presents a credible scenario and a more realistic end.

      Else, Bruce Wilis could not get rid of the epileptic scenes which he is so fond of, just to let him be the only (poor) character he can play in every single movie he has acted in.

      • Rob says:

        Not exactly. Though both show flaws in their science. Look at the main objects of the movie. The comet in deep impact is claimed to be about 7 1/2 miles long. While the impact would be devastating it would not cause complete destruction. The 1 mile piece that broke off would not cause an eruption that large, and when the comet was in the atmosphere was completely disproportional. Armageddon made a strong point that the sheer velocity of the Asteroid would ward off the effects of nuclear strikes. Deep Impact said fuck it, launch em. Armageddon had constructed vehicles built specifically for drilling. Deep Impact had….”moles.” The point of the Messiah mission was to use nuclear weapons to deflect the comet off it’s course, yet for some reason the explosion occurred in the front. Not to mention they were using 5 kiloton nuclear weapons….I mean the Russians did have a 50 kiloton nuke, that would have probably been fairly effective. Armageddon the mission was to drill deep enough so that the explosion could split the rock in two and deflect them away. As far as science and realism goes, I’ll give the nod to Armageddon. Also the shuttles are far more possible and plausible than the Messiah. Also note *blooper* they said the Orion was a nuclear reactor. Yet they said if they went back to destroy the larger piece they wouldn’t have enough fuel to get home.

  8. Chris Gagen says:

    Your take on this could not be more accurate.

  9. Mrs. P says:

    Though similar these movies couldn’t be more different. Everything from the genre, and overall affect of these movies are opposite. Armageddon has lively characters, lots of chuckles and some pretty good special effects and while Deep Impact has the infamous Morgan Freeman, Tea Leoni has got to be the worst actress alive. All the characters are somber (though it is a somber subject), yet there was very little personality or energy shown in any of the characters. Deep Impact did make me tear up while Armageddon felt more like an adventure. My final score is Armageddon but only because it covered more emotions, I laughed, cried, the action and effects were great. Deep Impact only made me tear up.

  10. Roguestriker says:

    Armageddon is the sort of movie you really need to park your intellect at the door before watching. It is pure gung-ho cartoon action entertainment. As Egbert put it, a 150 minute trailer or MTV video. As long as you understand that it becomes irritating rather than a movie that makes you want to throw something at the screen. Every cliche is chucked in, right down to the red wire/blue wire dilemma. I mean, space shuttles being launched in formation???? And can there really be any argument that the real heroic act would be an entire shuttle crew sacrificing their lives rather than Bruce Willis screaming yippie kay yeh you mf asteroid. Only in a parallel universe could Armageddon by seen as a better movie than Deep Impact.


    • Bryce, here. I don’t actually agree with you but I sure do like the quality of that comment and its good, clean writing style. Please keep coming back and join us on our Facebook page as well.

  11. Rick says:

    I like both movies, but for different reasons. Deep Impact makes me think, Armageddon makes me react (usually with chuckling). I agree with that “estrogen vs testosterone” comment. Deep Impact belongs on the Lifetime channel while Armageddon is better suited to Spike. Given a choice, I’d have to pick Armageddon. Not because it’s a better movie, but because the actors display a range of expressions. Tea Leoni appears to zombie around in a post-coital narcolepsy, but she’s like that in all her movies (the ones I’ve seen, anyway). Elijah Woods seems stuck in a wide-eyed, slack-jawed state of surprise/fear/confusion. Even the mighty Morgan Freeman wears the same deadpan look throughout the movie. Granted, they can’t be expected to do cartwheels and dance steps, given the subject matter, but those talking androids at the science expos seem more human. Advantage: Armageddon.

  12. Jesus H. Christ says:

    I thought this review was fair and accurate. I stumbled on this when I googled which one was released in theaters first as I was discussing both movies with someone and when I stated that “Deep Impact” was out in theaters first, I was met with the response “Didn’t you know that Deep Impact was the cheap rip off of Armageddon?”

    According to the release dates and the polls, I am not off base in my assertions that I think that Deep Impact was the better movie of the two, but that’s just because they failed.

  13. Kevin says:

    Everyone has got it wrong. BOTH of these movies suck. No need to explain why…it is simply fact!

    • Bryce Zabel says:

      Kevin… Honestly, I just can’t imagine a comment that I have less respect for. “No need to explain why…”

      The thing is if you think there is no need to explain why then you’re in the wrong place. This is a site where the reviewers and the commenters do actually need to explain why. That’s the whole idea.

      I’m glad you think your opinion is such a winning one that you have no need to even back it up with an argument, but that leaves me cold.

      Listen, we’re glad you came by and read the post, but why don’t you go ahead and join the conversation? That would involve explaining why you feel the way you feel about things, but give it a shot. :-)

  14. Kathleen says:

    Started watching Deep Impact for the first time, and the fact that I stopped the movie as they were reaching the comet to google `Deep Impact vs. Armageddon’ is probably all I need to say about how engaged I was in the movie. The fact that Bob Duvall is so pretty is all the kept me on board up to this point. Even Morgan Freeman looks like he’s choking back the impulse to start pounding his head on the podium to counteract the agony.
    To defend that which does not need defending: so damned what if Armageddon is telling a story told before? It worked for Shakespeare. This one actually hit all seven of Booker’s basic plots: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, Rebirth. Throw in a few of the complexities of plots: metamorphosis, transformation, maturation, love, sacrifice, wretched excess, ascension, descension (the last two literally), and you pretty much hit all the buttons we love having pushed. These stories have probably been told since we painted pictures on the walls of caves, and we’re still coming back for more, for a good reason. I suspect that Neanderthal souls soared just as ours do at the sight of a good hero walk. Our painted creatures dance in electrons instead of firelight, but the stories draw us together and expand our universe at the same time, just as I imagine they did then. And since Ben and Bruce are prettier, at least in sum, then Bob Duvall, and Liv Tyler rocked Tia Leone out of the park, I’m ambling off to re-watch Armageddon, throw popcorn at the comet, tear up when the lil’ guy’s mom says, “That’s no salesman, that’s your daddy,” and cheer at the defeat of our 21st century saber-toothed tigers.

    • dan says:

      Kathleen, whole-heartedly agree with you! I actually stopped watching the movie as well to google this smackdown page lol ^^

      • Eric Estrin says:

        Some movies were just made to be smacked down ;-)

    • Jennifer K says:

      That’s why I’m here too. I couldn’t remember which came out first, but now… every time I watch one of them, I’m reminded of the other.

      Honestly, I liked both movies. Though, I don’t think I would have stopped Armageddon to Google the two movies. So, advantage to Armageddon there.

      Another point in Armageddon’s favor was that there were more memorable characters. I kept wondering during my rewatch of Deep Impact if this was the movie with certain character, and honestly a little disappointed when I realized that the character I was thinking of was in Armageddon.

      That said, I still like both movies. But, I do give the advantage to Armageddon.

  15. Andrew Hows says:

    Despite both being meteor disaster movies, Armageddon and Deep Impact really aren’t about the same thing. Armageddon is saving the world by blowing up a meteor. Deep Impact is about how people act when they believe it’s all going to end.

    It seems to me that people who don’t like Deep Impact go into it wanting to see Armageddon. Hence, you get complaints about not enough special effects, too much talking, too much sentimentality, too much focus on earth and not enough on space, etc. In Deep Impact, the space mission is just one more examination of human reaction to death – heroic self-sacrifice in this case.

    I appliedt he same test as you did, but I get very different results. Sitting through Armageddon again, I’m bored. The story is simple and linear, I already know the ending, and the character’s don’t really strike a chord with me. All it has going for it after that is the special effects, and while they’re great, that’s not enough to keep me interested.

    Watching Deep Impact, I’m forced to wonder “what would I do in that situation?” Would I be one of the hoarders, scavengers or price gougers? Would I leave security and safety to be with someone I loved? Would reconciliation be more important to me than a chance of survival?

    Deep Impact has it’s flaws – Tea Leoni and Leelee Sobieski could have done better, for one – but if you score it on the drama scorecard rather than the action one, I think it rates better than what you gave it.

  16. Baptiste says:

    People love to hate successful people and like him ot not Bay is successful good at what he does and really could care less what critics think about his work. The box office serves him just fine. Armageddon all the way. There is a story line and a plot, the acting is more likable and the cgi is far, far better. Also, Deep Impact $350 million worldwide…Armageddon $554 million worldwide. Bay and his studio are very happy and could care less

    • Bryce Zabel says:

      Pretty much how I see it, too.

  17. Jack Matt says:

    A, really surprised that people compare Armagedon to Deep Impact,

    I saw both, i dont see anything good about Deep Impact except the idea of failing in the mission and showing the aftermath, but then when i completed the film i realized it was pooorly implemented.

    Armagedon 10/10 (never leaves you boared)
    Deep Impact 6/10 (Good idea,Bad Implementation)
    Please people dont compare awesome movie with a boaring one.
    Thank you

    • Bryce Zabel says:

      Our concept is to compare two movies against each other. But the winner we picked was the movie you liked. Did you vote in the poll, too?

  18. s jones uk says:

    Just watching Deep Impact (will I make it to the end this time?) and I thought “there must be someone else out there who thinks this is very poor in comparison to Armageddon” … then I found this review. Sums it up for me. Watched both films back to back when they came out and my opinion hasn’t changed. Deep Impact is shite, Armageddon is great on so many levels from the comedy to the suspense to the musc – and it made my cry (in a good way!) Love it…;-)

  19. rudy says:

    you only know deep impact was better because armageddon joked way to much about nothing.

  20. Mike McCarthy says:

    Deep Impact has next to near very little action to it. Mostly yadda yadda yadda. Kinda slow going. TOO emotional. Now, if they had done it in the same fashion as Armageddon, then it would have fared better.

  21. Pearl says:

    It’s simple. Armageddon has more action and romance in it, DeImpact involves more ‘real life’ drama. The only thing I was disappointed with is that Deep Impact has no tension between its scenes… ATTENTION! SPOILER! Don’t read if you haven’t seen it (although I can’t think why now, it’s a 23 year old movie).

    In one scene the astronauts are sitting in the bar drinking beer and have a conversation, the next thing you know they’re sitting in a space shuttle on a 30 second countdown then it cuts down to 10 second in the next scene. It just doesn’t add the suspense you get in most sci-fi action. I like both films though but Deep Impact is just more drama than adrenalin-kicking Armageddon.

    • Bryce Zabel says:

      Good comment, Pearl. Although I think the math is slightly off. Deep Impact and Armageddon were made 13 years ago, not 23. Still, most of the people who were gonna see ‘em have seen ‘em! :-)

  22. Claude says:

    Since we might have a close encounter with the Elenin comet in the fall of 2011, I rewatched the Deep Impact movie to get an a better feel of things that could happen to the earth. Since I was interested in the science aspect I have to say that Deep Impact is the better movie.

  23. Xavier says:

    I’ve nothing to add to what you’ve already pointed out in your piece, I totally agree. I have an emotional attachment to Armageddon that I could not and still have not developed for Deep Impact. Deep Impact kinda bores me and feels emotional detached. All I can say about criticisms is that people are different, we have to live with that and agree to disagree peacefully on this and other topics.

  24. bart says:

    deep impact for the emotional- sentimental group ..armageddon for the action testosterone group .is that a better filter for ya?

    • kk says:

      deep impact is not only emotional, but also more realistic. End of world itself is emotional.

      In DeepImpact, they use external nuclear propulsion system to make it all the way to comet. and use the”Bipod” to execute the landing mission. very detail and well considered.

      on the other hand, Armageddon. Minigun in space ?? Really ?? Seriously ?? They use normal space shuttle, which knew as only has enough fuel to reach International space station. And yet, they put some minigun onboard !!

      Conclusion, Armageddon is just like another Jacky Chan movie. ha ha ha ha and have a good night.

      Just like many other people here, “I have to say that Deep Impact is the way better movie.”

  25. Pingback: Bruce Willis | Essay Company Reviews

  26. Ben says:

    Deeeeepp Innnpaaaacttt Is much better

    • Ben says:

      Armageddon has no plot what so ever and is so unrealistic

      • Jamal Hadri says:

        Armageddon is so baad

      • Jamal Hadri says:

        Armagedon is so blodding rubbish

  27. Kevin says:

    It’s probably silly to even make this comment, but really??
    I’m not a Bay-hater. I actually like him, generally. That said, between these two movies, “Deep Impact” is WAY better. It’s clearly the more realistic. (Assuming a comet is able to get that close without us noticing, obviously.) You wouldn’t send an oil rig crew to outer space. Overweight, under-intelligent people don’t make for good astronauts. Astronauts make good astronauts. And, realistically, that mission would be a suicide mission.
    On the issue of heroism, I completely disagree with the author of the article. Bruce Willis acts “heroically”. He also acts ridiculously predictably. But that is pretty much it. Meanwhile, Tea Leoni gives up her seat for Laura Innes, and then goes to the beach to wait for the tidal wave with her father whom she finally forgives. Elijah Wood goes back and saves Leelee Sobieski and her baby brother, but her parents are forced to let stay behind on the crowded highway. The one astronaut never gets to see his baby.
    And, for me, Deep Impact had a much better character connection element. Armageddon is all about the space mission. I’m not on a space mission. I never will be. I would, however, in this situation, be back on earth, trying to figure out a way to survive. Deep Impact gives me an idea of what that would be like.
    Armageddon is all about the flash, the bang, the boom. Deep Impact is about what could actually happen. Armageddon is the better movie to summarize in 30 seconds or less and watch mindlessly later. Deep Impact is the better story.

    • al viola says:

      I just want to say first, forgive my grammar as i would forgive yours. In this case, its no measure of intelligence. Having said that, Armageddon is the better film, absolutely. I can get very analytical if I wish, but I’d rather do a pros/cons list. Armageddon will be judged with respect to Deep Impact. THE PROS are (1) BRUCE WILLIS! He’s a world-class action star! If you switch the main actors, Deep Impact probably wins. (2) Despite how much I hate it, that Aerosmith song was huge! It brought much more publicity and it was another pop-culture hit that was tied directly to the film. (3) Armageddon was much funnier. It was a constant sway of emotions. It got tense and bleak, and then switched to “they’re gonna make it!”, and back and forth. (4) The romantic element was sorely missed in Deep Impact. Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler were missing from Deep Impact. Also, the chemistry of Bruce Willis and Liv Tyler was missing from Deep Impact. (5) The sacrifice of Bruce Willis was much more dramatic than the Deep Impact sacrifice. Bruce’s sacrifice meant more because the conflicting relationships of him and his daughter and her boyfriend developed fruitfully and dramatically. AND FINALLY THE ONLY CON FOR ARMAGEDDON (1) There was no impact sequence! Deep Impact sold it well. For all of its shortcomings, Deep Impact’s ending was insane. It looked authentic, especially in ’98, and I’d never seen anything like it. Everyone who saw it in theaters knew that it was gonna happen, which is a slight flaw in itself, but not for the box office. END OF DEBATE. Armageddon wins! Armageddon had a lot more uppity scores and complex relationships./ Armageddon spawned many more careers. Armageddon had a blockbuster action star! And Bruce Willis isn’t simply a world-class action star, he may be the greatest action star of all time! Throw in the pussy Aerosmith song and you got a summer blockbuster, end of story lol. That song was okay i guess…

      • skunk says:

        This reply may be three years late, but I *still* want to say what needs to be said:

        Your arguments pro-Armageddon and contra-Deep Impact are…

        1) An Actor
        2) A cheesy song
        3) Jokes in a catastrophe-movie
        4) You’re saying there’s no romantic element in Deep Impact
        5) Bruce Willis’ predictable, lame exit

        Wow, you’re easily impressed. And by the wrong factors, too.

        Deep Impact get 85% of the science right, whereas Armageddon doesn’t even try.

        Deep Impact feels somber, which may be due to impending doom, while Armageddon feels shallow and dumbed-down.

        If CGI and mindless action are your thing, stick to Armageddon.

        For me, Deep Impact is the clear winner by at least one order of magnitude.

  28. Jo says:

    Armageddon is one of my favourite films, and after watching it many times, as well as couple of repeat veiwings of Deep Impact, I conclude that Armageddon is the better film. The characters are so much more watchable, the storyline is tight, and the action is much better. The science is terrible- of course, but that is ok with me- I am a biogeochemist, and have published on mass extinction events, so am pretty familar with the science of comets and asteroids. But if it gets people interested in our solar system, extinction events and space exploration then that is great.

    • Jennifer K says:

      Honestly, I didn’t watch either movie because I thought it would have realistic science. You make a good point that neither movie is about the science – it’s about the action (in Armageddon) and the drama (in Deep Impact). So, while they have a similar plot (comet is headed toward Earth), each film had a different purpose. Which has me thinking, do our preferences for one of these movies over the other reflect our preference for action vs. drama? I do think that Armageddon delivered better action when compared to Deep Impact’s delivery of drama.

  29. P. Escobar says:

    For those who enjoy a slightly more realistic movie, go with Deep Impact. I know, I know… neither of the two is really THAT realistic, but, COME ON, a space shuttle that reaches the moon in minutes and whips around it in seconds??? All Bay/Bruckheimer movies are 100% high fructose corn syrup eye candy. No substance. The only highlight: O. Wilson asking, “Have you ever seen Star Wars?” For some reason, I laugh every time I think of that. I’m not saying that Deep Impact was steak. But it was at least a greasy cheeseburger.
    Just because you and your kids memorized the lines doesn’t make it Gone With the Wind. My brothers and I know all the lines to Teen Wolf, but we don’t think that it’s better than the original Wolfman.

  30. T-Mac says:

    Good to know your vast experience as a movie theatre employee gave you such compelling insight into the goings-on at Paramount. I better go get a job at Cinemark so that I can find out what Spielberg’s next big move is!

  31. tristanmcgrath7@gmail.com says:

    “Billy Bob Thornton has never, ever been better in a serious role”??? Have you ever SEEN Sling Blade? Did he play a man with developmental disabilities? Yes. However, that WAS a serious role, and it will go down in history as his best one and one of the finest performances in the history of the cinematic arts.

  32. Ed says:

    Being someone who worked in a movie theatre at the time, I can tell you the studios started showing trailers for Armageddon over a year before its release, designed to be a 4th of July release. In their desperation, Paramount slapped together their own asteroid movie and released it in May to try to steal the thunder from Armageddon.

  33. Spider34 says:

    Sorry just wanted to make the comment that in Deep Impact it’s a comet and in Armageddon it’s an Asteroid and there ir a big difference. Love Armageddon but I like that in deep Impact the earth doesn’t get away unscathed.

  34. Bryce Zabel says:

    M.G. — You just might have boiled this debate down to its essence and explained the continuing, persistant tie in the poll and the deep divide between audiences over which is best. Estrogen -vs- Testosterone.

  35. M. G. says:

    Agreed. ‘Deep Impact’ is nothing more than the ‘feminized’ version of ‘Armageddon’…or, to make it plain, ‘Deep Impact’ is fueled by estrogen, while ‘Armageddon’ is fueled by testosterone. The dividing line is how those in space doing the work are handled…pros vs. joes. Armegeddon crews are the joes…and they ROCK!

    • dan says:

      Armageddon is a total chick flick. I’m sorry but if you think Ben Affleck running an animal cracker up a girls stomach is manly, you need to re-evaluate things. They are both good movies but Deep impact has a bit less Estrogen.

  36. Tung Yin says:

    Phil Plaitt’s Bad Astronomy site does an excellent job of dissecting the horrible “science” in Armageddon, but for some reason, I still find Armageddon high in re-watchability. Michael Bay has his limitations as a director, but one thing he seems to do well is stage scenes that drive home the emotional impact of facing impending death. The sequence where the second shuttle gets hit by pieces of the asteroid and loses power is pretty intense from the POV of the doomed shuttle pilots. It reminded me (in emotional feeling) of the set piece in The Rock where the Navy SEALs find themselves trapped in the bathroom.

  37. Me says:

    Funny, I was thinking almost the same thing about Armageddon, which seemed like Anime without the animation. After 40 minutes it became apparent that the only thing the guys on the spaceship were lacking were six-shooters that never ran out of bullets and horses. In fact, it might have been a better movie had they had those. “Let’s ride out to that thar asteroid and rope that dogie in.”

  38. Me says:

    I have seen Armageddon one and a half times. I had to quit watching the second time because it just seemed to stupid to keep watching. I enjoy Bruce Willis, but being in this atrocity was too much.
    On the other hand, I have seen Deep Impact several times and see something different each time.
    Is there a reason I pick one over the other? Perhaps a couple of reasons. Bruce Willis looks like he should be barefoot and blowing up bad guys in an elevator instead of on an asteroid. The outer space stuff was nearly as bad as the space scenes in Moonraker. The other thing I thought Deep Impact did better was figuring out what would happen if we had to prepare for a big rock hitting the earth. While that part might be boring, it was certainly interesting to me.
    Lest we forget, while Armageddon did better at the box office, it also cost like twice what Deep Impact did. Did it make twice as much money? Nope.
    Also note that the vote is about even, at least on this web site.
    What about that Rotten Tomatoes score? 41 for Armageddon and 46 for Deep Impact.
    How about those astronomers weighing in on this debate? Astronomers give the nod to Deep Impact for greater accuracy over Armageddon.
    Lastly, let’s give a comparison to Radar Men on the Moon. Which movie is closer to Radar Men on the Moon. The winner is, which all sorts of sound effects and cowboys in space, Armageddon. Commando Cody would have been proud, I am sure.
    So, which movie wins? Easy answer. For slightly more than half the country, Deep Impact. For slightly less than half the country, Armageddon.

  39. Peter says:

    People who can sit through Deep Impact is beyond me….after the first 40 mins it became apparent that the film had no suspense and drama whatsoever…
    The film is suppose to be about the destruction of Earth by a comet, what the hell is MSNBC doing as part of the main storyline….its utterly ridiculous…
    Deep Impact felt like a B-movie on a TV-channel with its poor special effects compared to Armageddon

  40. Bimpe says:

    Armageddon is definitely more engaging! Thoroughly enjoyed watching it.

  41. Sherry Coben says:

    Or perhaps J.O. thinks you like movies pertaining to:
    shin·ny 1 also shin·ney (shn)
    n. pl. shin·nies also shin·neys
    1. Ice, street, or field hockey played informally with a ball, can, or similar object.
    2. The stick used when playing this game.

  42. Bryce Zabel says:

    Tallian… I take your point, but Movie Smackdown is also meant to give voice to different reviewers who each add their experience, personality and opinions to the content of the films they review. Besides, it’s hard to ask a writer not to write about something he has spent a year studying (extinction events). Most of our reviews should be more to your liking. Still, on this one, which did you prefer, DEEP IMPACT or ARMAGEDDON? Bryce

  43. Tallian says:

    I have to say… Reviews are much better if half the review isn’t the reviewer shamelessly promoting himself….

  44. Bryce Zabel says:

    I didn’t so much dislike her performance as the character she played. I just found that seeing this event through the eyes of an MSNBC novice seemed odd and kind of goofy, given the material.

  45. Allen2saint says:

    I’m not sure what people dislike about her, but I found Tea’s performance natural and unaffected. If you consider the script and the character she was handed, she told a lot of the story with her acting.

  46. mike s. says:

    Whatever the shortcomings of Deep Impact (the inexplicable casting of Tea Leoni the big number 1), Armageddon is incomparably worse– completely ridiculous story and plot, annoying cast, and zero science.
    One of the worst sci-fi movies I’ve ever seen. Not worthy of contrarian-based affection.

  47. Allen2saint says:

    And the “reporter as storyteller/exposition device” worked well in this film as it did in( of all things) the American version of the 50s Godzilla. Geekish, yes, but it’s still a good dramatic device.

  48. Allen2saint says:

    I prefer Deep Impacts low key approach. When I first saw them I thought if you combined both films best attributes you’d have a classic.

  49. ss says:

    That’s right. Lots more explosions, no need to think about credability, totally cartoon like characters, so that you don’t need to worry about them. It’s a no brainer that Armageddon is the better movie…..no truely a NO BRAINER.

  50. J.O. says:

    Your entire review, is a statement of your falling ability to understand anything except what’s shinny and explosive. So what are you talking about?
    Maybe I should go and work in the sates, where apparently even idiots can get nice paying jobs.

    • Joe says:

      i know this is two years old but I couldnt resist.
      Your post shows that you openly admit that you are an idiot.

      • Bryce Zabel says:

        By all means, Joe, please share your wisdom, knowledge and certitude with the rest of us mere mortals.

      • Pulpfictitious says:

        Haha I get it. Because if he wasn’t an idiot then the idea of idiots being able to get well paying jobs wouldn’t matter to him.


  51. Which 1 disaster scene in Armageddon are you referring to? Paris blowing up? Part of China blowing up? The orbiting earth satellite blowing up? Bits of New York blowing up? Your comment makes no distinction.
    Plus, we had to wait a good two hours before Deep Impact fired up with any decent carnage….

  52. Ryan Bradley says:

    well I dunno about u guys but deep impact has more distruction and those who like destruction would want to c it.
    Armageddon is ok but u only c 1 disaster scene whether in deep impact u c like 12


  53. “Most of the members of the masses are idiots with short attention spans and little grasp of reality.”
    Seriously? Sweeping generalsiations are the only arguments you can make for Armageddon? As part of the masses, and as somebody who is not an idiot (accoriding to my friends, ie, those who KNOW me) I think your “argument” indicates just where your knowledge of film lies.
    The concepts in Deep Impact are not beyond my ability to grasp, although what concept might amuse your obviously superior mind beggars comprehension.
    The bottom line is that Armageddon, while certainly pandering to the more cerebrally shallow, was always going to be the more commercially successful, but does that automatically ensure it’s the “better” film. I think Bryce’s analysis supports the theory that while in this case it might be that way, it’s not ALWAYS the case.


  54. You certainly have a right to favor one movie over the other, but I think arguing that “Deep Impact” is beyond my ability to grasp its quality elements and that the only reason I like “Armageddon” is because I’m part of the idiot masses… well… THAT truly seems idiotic.

  55. killermist says:

    Armageddon is more loved by the masses. And therein lies the problem. Most of the members of the masses are idiots with short attention spans and little grasp of reality.
    I can’t honestly say that I’m surprised that so many people love Armageddon. Minds not familiar with any concepts of critical thinking gravitate to the more shiny, explodey stuff because many of the really quality elements of Deep Impact are beyond their ability to grasp.


  56. Armageddon is just a more satisfying movie for more people and, although I don’t support films being built by marketing departments (think Transformers), I just liked this version a lot better. I do think they were apples and apples, though. Two movies about an asteroid impact made in the same year… man, this is what Movie Smackdown lives for! Anyway, thanks for leaving such a well-written comment (and I don’t mean by a marketing department)…

  57. SiliRat says:

    If by ‘better written’ you mean ‘more precisely following the forumla to make a cookie cutter action comedy film about a rag tag gang of misfits and ne’r-do-wells who prove that they have the hearts of heroes’, then I suppose you have a point about Armageddon.
    The problem with the film is that it is too cartoony. From the first few minutes of the film, you know that Bruce Willis is the hero, and Ben Afflek is his Robin, one of them is going to sacrafice himself and that the Earth is going to be saved. Following some explosions. Yippie-Kay-Yay.
    This doesn’t make it a bad movie. There’s nothing wrong with dumb fun. I’m of the opinion that Deep Impact is the significantly better film, although if you were to ask me which one Joe Normal would prefer, Armaggedon is the clear winner. I just don’t feel that it was written so much as built by a marketing department, and I’m not sure you are comparing apples with apples.

  58. Bryce Zabel says:

    Do we really think that MSNBC is where the action is if a comet is going to hit the Earth? And does it really matter if Tea gets the scoop or not? I really think DEEP IMPACT blows. It’s ham-handed directing, indifferent plotting and off-the-point drama.


  59. Armageddon has more explosions, but I tend to think Deep Impact has more emotional resonance…. everybody in Armageddon is a cheesy, cardboard cutout character, while at least they tried to shoehorn characters into Deep Impact.
    I still thoroughly enjoy watching Armageddon, but only because I can’t really handle Tea Leoni.

  60. Andrew Le says:

    I totally agree with you. It’s simple; Armageddon is better than Deep Impact because of what you stated in your essay.


  61. That actually makes sense to me. If you make a movie about the end of mankind that’s slow and silly like “Deep Impact,” you can’t attack the other film just because it’s got more pacing. A better film is still the one that’s the most fun to watch.

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