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After a collision with a comet, a nearly 8km wide piece of the asteroid "Orpheus" is heading toward Earth. If it hits, it will cause an incredible catastrophe which will probably extinguish mankind. To stop the meteor, NASA wants to use the illegal nuclear weapon satellite "Hercules," but soon discovers that it doesn't have enough firepower. Their only chance to save the world is to join forces with the USSR, which has also launched such an illegal satellite. But will both governments agree? Written by
With the hoopla surrounding the 1998 releases of 'Armageddon' and 'Deep Impact', many have forgotten that Hollywood had done a previous big screen version of the 'Asteroid on Collision Course with Earth' premise, the 1979 Samuel Z. Arkoff production of 'Meteor'. Panned when first released, the film is dated (Cold War tensions with the Soviet Union are a major plot device), and has some unintentionally campy moments, but is still GREAT fun, with a fabulous cast!
Sean Connery stars, as an American scientist who had left NASA when his designs for a 'asteroid-killer' space missile platform were turned into a weapon aimed at the Soviet Union. After a comet passing through the Asteroid Belt collides with a a city-sized chunk, releasing a five-mile large rock, and launching it towards Earth, he is drafted into leading the American team assigned to turn the platform around, and fire our missiles at the deadly visitor.
Unfortunately, the combined nuclear capacity of the U.S. space arsenal isn't great enough to deflect it from it's path, so an uneasy alliance with the Russians, who ALSO have illegal strategic missiles in space, is achieved. It then becomes a race against time, as pieces of the asteroid obliterate various parts of earth, to coordinate the two missile systems, and launch a strike at the huge rock.
The cast is first-rate; Natalie Wood (in one of her final roles) plays a Russian scientist/interpreter, who is romantically drawn towards Connery; Brian Keith nearly steals the picture as the gregarious Russian team leader; Karl Malden is warm and winning as Connery's best friend, and NASA liason; Martin Landau does a campy bit as a paranoid military liason; and Henry Fonda, looking haggard, appears in a small role as the President. Watch for Sybil Danning (before B-movie stardom), in a cameo, as a doomed Swiss skier!
The FX range from excellent (some of the space scenes), to hokey (the tidal wave in Hong Kong); among the film's pluses is a stirring, beautiful (if at times, overpowering) score by Laurence Rosenthal ('Fantasy Island').
Is 'Meteor' a classic? Certainly not! But it is no worse than the later asteroid films, and Sean Connery is ALWAYS a joy to watch! Take a chance on 'Meteor'...I like it, and I think you will, too!
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