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I have to admit, I love 70's disaster movies. They wallow in so much camp,cheese and sheer tackiness that they're fun. . But Meteor isn't really campy or entertaining. It's really pretty boring. The special effects are laughable. No literally, I laughed up strawberry yogurt all over my boyfriend's couch at the sight of the meteor. Or make that old bread or rock or what ever that was. The great cast give apathetic performances. "Why am I here" seem to be going through their heads. Not that I blame these great actors one moment. Martin Landau's over acting is pain full to watch. The climax is not exciting. There just seems to be no suspense built up in the movie. Over all, not a bad movie. But just a very boring one.
Sean Connery is famous for everything from James Bond to Highlander and the Rock. This film he'd want wiped from his record. Talk about cheese on a stick! Utter nonsense from the 70s disaster movie genre, this is bandwaggon jumping if ever I saw it. Particularly annoying was the 'drama' music every time the meteor appeared on screen. By the end of the film I wanted to chuck something at the telly it got on my nerves so much.
It really isn't very good, there is no way of getting around the fact
that this splendidly cast disaster picture is a ropey looking cheesy
piece of cinema. But to pour vitriolic scorn on it like many other IMDb
and Amazon reviewers have is going a touch too far, for one thing it's
overlooking the fact that the film does have good points and is not
short on bright moments.
Bsically a meteor the size of Brazil (for example) is heading towards Earth and one can safely assume it's a global killer that will be the dawn of a new ice age. The Americans (bless them) have a nuclear defence weapon in space called Hercules, which apparently was put up there to avert any threat from those pesky Russians. Thinking that Hercules could knock out the meteor before it dooms us all to worm bait, the Americans assemble a cunningly intelligent team to asses the possibility, trouble is is that Hercules doesn't have enough power for the job. Enter the Russians, who of course have their own nuclear weapon in space (bless them) that really wasn't put up there to avert any threat from those pesky Yanks, can the might of the East & West unite and save the world?
The effects look dated and weak but it's still a hell of a lot of fun watching a 1979 disaster film try so hard to entertain us. The film contains an avalanche sequence that is highly entertaining (not intentionally it should be noted!), a sequence of our hardy band of smarties down in the broken sewers is also well worth the wait, and of course the cast is definitely worth an interest. Sean Connery (saying one of the best lines ever written), Karl Malden, Natalie Wood, Martin Landau, Henry Fonda (all too small a role tho), Richard Dysart and Trevor Howard, not bad really. The writing also stands up to scrutiny, a nice line in tension as the Russians and Americans try to come together in spite of mistrust and an unwillingness to show their hands.
All in all it's one to pass the time of day away with if you aren't in a particularly demanding mood. 5/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Brief and to the point: "Meteor" is a lousy film! I normally am into 70's Sci-Fi and apocalyptic epics but this screenplay is really inept and actually more like a lame excuse to present a sad world-peace moral. Some intergalactic forces went berserk, and an asteroid of nearly 5 miles wide is heading straight for earth at an enormous speed. Why all the fuss over a little space-stone? Well, apparently because its impact would mean the end of the world and the only way our beloved planet can be saved is for the USA and Russia to combine forces and blow the asteroid to little pieces using their nuclear weapons. Problems occur, of course, when neither one of the world powers wants to admit they actually HAVE the weapons. It's truly pathetic to see how the writers out their Cold War protest into what should be an entertaining SF film and therefore the story totally doesn't convince. The "United-we-stand" message is shoved down our throats even more when US NASA genius Connery falls in love with the Russian interpreter Wood and when the whole bunch boozes vodka together. The special effects and visuals are cheesy and awfully dated, but that didn't bother me too much. In fact, the sequences in which the "asteroid-splinters" prematurely hit earth-regions are the only worthwhile moments in this dire film. The coolest footage is borrowed from the 1978 "Avalanche", by the way. The acting is mediocre over the entire line and the only performance worth mentioning is given by a terribly age Henry Fonda as the US President.
Even Sean Connery lowered himself to appear in a 70's disaster film, and it was a really bad one too. The effects were terrible, laughingly bad even for 1979. This film was so bad even Sean's wig refused to appear. As I watched it I have expected Roger Moore's 007 to blow up the Meteor on the Space Shuttle he had in Moonraker, to put the real James Bond 007 (Sean) out of his movie misery. Luckily Sean would bounce back in the likes of The Name of the Rose, The Untouchables, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Rock etc. The Meteor must be his worst film by far.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie is, above all, an egregious waste of a world-class cast. Did
the producers spend all of their money hiring the cast and have nothing
left with which to build a decent vehicle for them? That seems to be
the only explanation. Everything about 'Meteor' is cheesy: the
dialogue, the 'special' effects, the plot, the direction, the music,
the editing. Most of the actors look as if they are sleepwalking
through their scenes; as if their awareness that they are participating
in cinematic malpractice is creating an apathetic milieu. The only
bright spot is Brian Keith, who speaks all of his lines in very
convincing Russian. He must have worked very hard to pull that off.
Natalie Wood also converses in Russian, but this was almost her native
tongue, so it comes naturally to her.
SPOILER: Very little in 'Meteor' makes sense. Missiles launch in slow motion; people run downhill to escape a tsunami; scientists say that all of the missiles MUST arrive simultaneously in order to have the desired effect, but success is achieved when they arrive at separate times; the subway floods at the end because of 'the river'(?) but more likely because the producers wanted to add another element of danger and a few more minutes to the running time.
All in all, 'Meteor' is a total waste. It is only memorable as a small monument to ineptitude.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In response to comments by Jonathon Dabell, relativity has nothing to do with it. I guess not everyone took physics in high school. An object in space may be "weightless". "Weight" is a property of an object when acted upon by a gravitational field. But it still has mass. The mass of an object is independent of gravity. An astronaut on the moon may "weigh" less, but his mass is the same as it was on earth. A mass in motion has momentum (momentum = mass x velocity), in space or anywhere else. According to Newton's first law , the law of inertia, an object in motion will continue moving the way it is moving unless it is acted upon by a force to change its motion. Since space is a vacuum, there is no air resistance, and so the velocity of an object set in motion in space will remain constant unless a force acts to change it. Consequently, an asteroid headed toward earth would continue along the same path and at the same velocity until it began to be attracted by earth's gravitational field. At that point it would begin to accelerate toward the earth. To prevent a collision, a force would have to be applied to the asteroid to change it's direction and/or velocity, and the force would have to be sufficient to overcome its momentum and inertia to stop or redirect it. Thus the movie was correct in portraying that a huge force would have to be exerted on an object that size and mass to change its course. Blowing it up may or may not be a solution. As has been shown in other more recent movies, the blast might redirect some of the resulting fragments into harmless directions, but unless the blast was sufficient to overcome all of the momentum and inertia of the asteroid, other fragments could continue along the same path as before. They might initially have a lower velocity, depending on how much momentum was overcome by the blast, but, once in the earth's gravitational field, the fragments would accelerate again. Small fragments would burn up in earth's atmosphere, but larger ones could get through and still cause a lot of damage (as was shown by the "splinters" that hit the earth). Of course, if the asteroid was completely obliterated and converted into dust, then any of it still on a trajectory toward earth would burn up harmlessly in the earth's atmosphere. And that, dear friends, is fortuitously what happened in "Meteor". Yay! Earth saved again! Having said all of that, whether the science was correct or not, it was still a terrible movie.
It's a shame that the effects aren't of a high quality and that the movie isn't realistic anymore because of the ending of the Soviet Union and the cold war. Anyhow, it has a very good story and with Sean Connery in it I think it won't be a waste of time to watch it. An absolute must for fanatics of classic Science-Fiction.
Like many of its predecessors, "METEOR" was another run-of-the-mill 70's
'disaster' flick which tried to cash in on the dying genre with the rather
tired scenario of the threat of a meteorite hurtling towards Earth with no
one other than a handful of American and Russian scientists there to try and
Sean Connery and Karl Malden play the American NASA scientists assigned to team up with Russian counter-parts, Brian Keith and Natalie Wood to try and figure out how to prevent the meteor from colliding with Earth. Smaller roles are portrayed by Martin Landau as a megalomaniacal military officer, Trevor Howard as a British correspondent and Henry Fonda as 'the President of the United States'.
Although a respectable and credible actor, Henry Fonda chose several 70's disaster duds to star in, each one having him credited as a 'special star'. For example, there was "THE SWARM" which stated.. "and Henry Fonda as Dr. Krim"... and then there was "CITY ON FIRE" which stated.. "and Henry Fonda as Chief Albert Risley" and the highly overlooked "ROLLERCOASTER" where he is introduced as "Simon Davenport". The opening credit sequence for "METEOR" looks quite cheap. A smoke machine spews a steady plume across a shot of the galaxy as yellow letters spring forward introducing the 'big-named' stars, concluding with "...and Henry Fonda as The President". Unfortunately, that is one of the first signs that you will see that will prove this film is a turkey.
As was the format for the 70's disaster film, the plot involved the main disaster itself, a handful of small 'disaster sequences' to keep the audience interested and a sub-plot involving either one or several romantic leads that connect the 'big-named' stars together. For 'EARTHQUAKE', it was Charlton Heston and Genevieve Bujold, with Ava Gardner on the sidelines. In 'THE TOWERING INFERNO', there were two leads... Fred Astaire with Jennifer Jones, and Steve McQueen with Faye Dunaway. In "METEOR", attempts are made to ignite a dead flame between Sean Connery and Natalie Wood which just doesn't quite work.
Putting the romance aside, we're left with cheap special effects and the 'ego' chemistry between Martin Landau and Sean Connery. The special effects themselves may have been top-of-the-line for 1979, but by today's standards, they are quite laughable. Scenes of a small asteroid impacting with a Scandinavian ski resort are of note. A 'red light' that is almost 'UFO-like' strikes a snow-capped mountain which explodes like a volcano and has the residents of a ski-village running for cover while stock footage of avalanches are entwined with the film. You can even see the outline of the avalanche print that has been placed onto the final film edit! Another small scene towards the end of the film has Sean Connery leading a group of people through a subway below the Hudson River that is in danger of flooding. Brown water oozes in through the walls as the group of survivors make their way out, but the whole thing comes off like a scene taken out of "WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY".
The biggest fault here with this film was the lack of interesting characters. We discover that Sean Connery is 'separated' from his wife and that his character will be prone to a romantic connection in the film, but the viewer is given no information about Natalie Wood's past except for the brief information that her husband was killed in an accident and the scenes that the two leads share together are quite dull and transparent. Karl Malden brilliantly makes the best of what he can with the material he is given and I felt that he was the most convincing character among them all.
Although this film has its faults, there are indeed some good things about it. The idea that both Russia and the U.S. had satellites orbiting each country armed with nuclear missiles is certainly food for thought, especially stemming off the Cold War which was still an issue at the time. Also the fact that neither country wanted to admit that they had them up there in the first place until a disaster forced them to was also a good idea. Natalie Wood in one of her final film roles was quite convincing as a Russian translator and it is always a pleasure to see her on the big screen. What convinced her to star in this film though, I will never know.
While not as awful as "CITY ON FIRE", "THE SWARM" and "WHEN TIME RAN OUT", this film was certainly a contributing factor to the downward spiral of the dying fad of disaster films.
I give "METEOR" 5 stars out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I warn for a spoiler, because there is a must see scene in this movie.
People do not seem to like this movie. That is too bad. In many disaster movies with a big budget the cast does not get their hands really dirty. Sometimes a bit smudged, sometimes a bit wet, but that's it.
In Meteor they give the cast a mud bath they will never forget. You can see the disbelieve on their faces, and it adds to the credibility of the scene. These people even try to act during the ordeal. They should all have gotten an Oscar. You never saw this, and you will never see it again in this time of computer effects.
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