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... See full summary »
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Richard C. Sarafian
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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
A small piece or rock or metal drifting through space is called a meteoroid. A meteoroid that enters Earth's atmosphere and burns up is called a meteor; the terms "meteor" and "shooting star" are one and the same. Most meteors are tiny, not much larger than a grain of sand. A meteor that does not burn up all the way and hits the Earth is called a meteorite. An object five miles wide would never be referred to as a "meteor", especially by astrophysicists. It would still be called an asteroid. See more »
It all started off so nicely... "Airport", "The Poseidon Adventure" and "The Towering Inferno" bringing amazing casts to the screen, making loads of money at the box office and getting nominated for and winning Oscars. ("Airport" and "The Towering Inferno" were even nominated for Best Picture!) Then it all started to shift and what was once high-powered, if escapist, entertainment soon slid into campy, tacky box office poison which eventually caved in on itself. "Meteor" was one of the last disaster films to come out of the 1970's cycle and demonstrates much of what was bad about it. This one went beyond the usual domestic disasters and focused on a threat from outer space (no doubt to cash in on the sudden success of several science fiction films just prior to this) and becomes a sort of hybrid sci-fi/disaster "epic". The film kicks off with title credits which manage to rip off both "Star Wars" and "Superman", then settles into the familiar territory of setting up the characters and the impending doom. Connery plays a scientist whose satellite defense system (meant to ward off meteors) was taken from him and used as potential weapon against the USSR. When a massive meteor closes in on earth, his old boss Malden calls him in to help figure out what to do. Eventually, it's learned that, even if they can realign the defense system, it won't be enough to stop the title rock, so they'll have to work with the Soviets. This being filmed during the Cold War, much is made about the mutual distrust between the USA and the USSR, though the film tries to depict the possibilities of international teamwork, despite their differences. Keith plays a visiting Soviet scientist who brings along interpreter Wood. There's also a battery of military and scientific types rounding out the cast as they watch and wait for the mammoth chunk of debris to near Earth. However, even the might of the satellite missles can't prevent the smaller bits of meteor that surround the big one from plummeting down and knocking out various cities and geographic areas. Connery looks embarrassed at times and should be, though he does invest his character with some welcome sarcasm and spunk. Malden does a great job, under the circumstances, of creating a character and he and Connery create some decent chemistry together. Keith is at once enjoyably hammy and credible, admirably speaking all of his lines in Russian, but with a glint in his eye. Wood has little to do but interpret Keith's lines into English and try to convince the audience that she's a young widow, fresh out of college. She comes off as rather silly at times, politely accepting a scarf from a colleague and nibbling on salad with Connery while the earth is about to be demolished. Landau overacts outrageously as a dethroned Major. Howard barely appears and does virtually every scene from a TV monitor! Fonda (a particular victim of the '70's disaster cycle, appearing here and in "The Swarm" and "City on Fire"!) appears blandly, but admirably as the President. (Amazingly, Fonda, Connery and Landau were able to rebound from this turkey and win Oscars AFTER this film!) Many other familiar TV and movie faces pop in including Besch in a cameo as Connery's estranged wife and "Guiding Light's" Zaslow as a chief technician. A riotously lame romance comes in the form of De Hetre and Richardson, two secretly pining technicians. The special effects run the gamut from awful (as in the superimposed shots of the meteor) to phony (the obvious models of the defense system) to hilarious (all of the tacky effects from the smaller crashes including an avalanche, a tidal wave and a firestorm) to jaw-dropping (as the cast is covered in brown slime while trying to escape a muddy river which is closing in on the command center!) Pointless characters are introduced just before death in an effort to make the drama more meaningful. The film throws in everything but the kitchen sink to please the audience and still flopped. Aside from some deadly dull shots of the meteor and the missles, the film can be enjoyed today as a campfest with a star cast, some amusingly bad dialogue and a buffet of smilingly shoddy disaster effects.
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