Meteor (1979) Poster

(1979)

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In defense of the film.
fleggett21 October 2001
I've read the negative reviews in here and am perplexed at the vitriol directed at this film. "Meteor" is, admittedly, a flawed movie, but still one with many strengths that deserve attention.

Firstly, it was made in 1979, so the effects are not going to be as stellar as they were in the 80's and 90's. And even then, some of those effects still hold up quite well to movies produced today. The modeling work, especially of the orbiting Hercules and Peter the Great nuclear missile platforms, is extremely impressive. The meteor itself is a big, ugly, and rather scary chunk of scarred rock, reminiscent of the Texas-sized shard in "Armageddon". Yes, some of the effects DO look cheesy (the avalanche being the most frequently cited example), but others are quite striking. At worst, "Meteor"'s effects are extremely uneven, but certainly not completely junkable.

Secondly, unlike "Deep Impact" and "Armageddon", the film focuses on the multitude of hurdles that have to be overcome in order to combat the threat. Personal, politicial, and scientific obstacles are given due screentime, which serves to advance the story rather than bogging it down.

Thirdly, "Meteor" is a far more globalized film, as it pulls together Russian, English, and even Chinese characters into the story. The attempt to track the rock and derive a viable solution to knock it out of its Earth-based trajectory is not solely an American one, but instead a closely coordinated international effort. Indeed, even the U.N. is (briefly) featured.

Fourthly, the film doesn't get mired in the 'human element' (as what happened in "Deep Impact" and "Pearl Harbor"). "Meteor" is non-tangential in that it STICKS TO THE STORY, which is the main interest of the viewer (at least, for me). Yes, there is the attraction between Connery and Wood's characters, but it's generally unobtrusive and the screentime limited.

Fifth, Laurence Rosenthal's score is great! Its boldness reminds me of Poledouris' legendary score for "Conan: The Barbarian". It effectively captures both the 'feel' of space and the direness and immediacy of the situations portrayed.

Finally, I emjoyed the acting. Connery, Keith, Malden, and Fonda turn in sincere performances (especially Malden). "Meteor" is an ensemble production in the tradition of Irwin Allen's best disaster productions.

Don't let the naysayers in here turn you off from this underrated gem. If "Deep Impact" and "Armageddon" left you wanting, give "Meteor" a try. Sure, it may not be as polished as those two productions, but it has more going for it than you might think.
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7/10
Sean Connery's All-Star Version of 'Armageddon'!
Ben Burgraff (cariart)16 November 2000
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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5/10
Perestroika Saves The World
bkoganbing27 November 2006
Meteor and When Time Ran Out marked the end of the decade of the disaster epic. I guess that Hollywood was just running out of ideas and that the formula of getting a bunch of big name players and put them in harm's way was wearing thin.

You can see that just about everybody here is bored, they all say the lines without any real conviction. Except for Martin Landau. As an Air Force General and Cold Warrior of the first order, he's extremely upset that the USA and the USSR have buried their differences to work on a real immediate problem. He resents Russians Brian Keith and Natalie Wood in the war room and Landau overacts outrageously.

A comet hurtling through the asteroid belt hit one of the big asteroids and sent one big chunk of rock and a whole bunch smaller ones as space calling cards speeding to Earth. That big guy if it hits spells the end of life on the planet.

Some criticism has been made that the special effects were a bit cheesy. By today's standards of course they were. So are some of those of the great Cecil B. DeMille. That's progress for you.

I'm not sure but this may have been the first time that Natalie Wood played someone of her own ancestry on film. Too bad she and Sean Connery as the NASA scientist didn't get to do something better before she passed away.

All the stars got a good pay day out of this though Sean Connery said there were some real scary moments with the cast trying to escape through the subway system with all the mud. A few times some people came close to really being buried in it for art's sake.

And this isn't a film to give your life for.
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The world is ending...Would you like a sandwich?
Poseidon-329 April 2003
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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6/10
Armageddon It!
sexytail21 March 2005
As a person who loves disaster movies (in spite of it being a basically flawed genre), I could not hate this movie as much as most people seem to. It is a big budget disaster about a disaster and much about its construction is highly flawed, and yes the acting is mostly weak, and yes the effects are often obvious, and yes that was stock footage, but, BUT, this movie does deliver in one vital department: it blows sh*t up!

I'm sure by now most people are familiar with this as a folly for Sean Connery, and Henry Fonda, and the rest of the all star cast. It pretty much is, but that doesn't mean it isn't somewhat enjoyable. Some of the disaster and action sequences are quite good. And the special effects are really not so terrible for 1979 (not that special effects today are at all convincing by comparison). The score is really something hilarious to behold and the space photography is pretty overwrought (as if the movie were saying "holy crap, dude, look at this awesome spaceship!"). It is kind of neat to see Brian Kieth as a Russian. It's also a bit refreshing to see a movie pose a more plausible solution to meteors that landing a space shuttle full of oil drillers on one. It's also funny that a movie that precedes Reagan's Star Wars Project proposes a far better use for it. Another interesting prophetic note: the first thing destroyed in the USA in this film is the world trade center.

And if you still think this is the worst disaster movie ever, go and watch "Beyond The Posiedon Adventure" or "Raise The Titanic". Hell, even "Earthquake" was pretty damn bad in spite of it's "revolutionary" contribution to cinema. And besides, what other disaster movie has its heroes threatened by sewage? Now, I think that I could have made a better film out of this story, but that doesn't mean we can't watch this version and laugh. And besides, sh*t blows up!
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5/10
Get a Piece of the Rock
BaronBl00d27 March 2006
Ill-fated disaster film about a five mile long meteor heading straight for Earth. Sean Connery heads an all-star cast trying to prevent the meteor with "hidden" space weapons owned by the Americans and the Russians. Lots of Cold War drama here in the film's backdrop, and while I do confess this film isn't particularly good - it isn't nearly as bad as many would have you believe. In point of fact, I found it entertaining. Ronald Neame directs with rather pedestrian flair, but the film is what it aims to be. A big budget, star laden disaster film with moments of suspense and a decent story with little depth. Connery isn't great but many of the cast do able jobs. I really liked Karl Malden's performance and Brian Keith's as a Russian scientist no less. The acting keeps this one from plummeting too far down, and the scenes with destruction are well-shot. The scene of the twin towers being destroyed even made me wince. What is wrong with the movie? Where in the world did the filmmakers get that awful soundtrack every time the meteor was shown? How about those crazy letters used for the opening credits and every day that passed by until the meteor was to hit? Much of these things give this film a very cheesy quality, but the acting and solid if nothing else direction make this better than one might hope. Perhaps. I got involved, enjoyed some of the characters, and let logic ease into a soft slumber. This is an old-fashioned popcorn movie from a bygone era. It will have little meaning to anyone who didn't grow up in the Cold War era as that plays very heavily in the story line. Richard Dysart, Martin Landeau(incredibly overacting), Sybil Danning, Trevor Howard, Natalie Wood, and even a brief visit from Henry Fonda as the president help make this such entertainment.
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S10 Review's Meteor (1979)
suspiria108 September 2007
Meteor (1979) 2 of 5 Dir: Ronald Neame Stars: Sean Connery, Natalie Wood, Karl Malden

Connery built a armed orbiting platform to protect the earth from s celestial attack. But like the government always does they take over the project and trains the nuclear payload smack dab at the old red menace. Connery is once again called back to realign the project when it is determined that a huge meteor that deflected off a comet is making a b-line to Earth. Together with the Russians will we be able to stop it?

'Meteor' is a fun movie with an all-star cast but the special effects are for the most part just plain bad. Even compared to films of the day ('Star Wars' and 'Alien' to name a few) they just can't quite cut it. It was a favorite as a kid but it gets a bit of groan out of me now. I guess so much for nostalgia.
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8/10
Cold War-era superpowers join forces to blow stuff up!
Brandt Sponseller8 March 2005
When NASA realizes that a 5-mile wide chunk of asteroid loosed by a passing comet is on a collision course with the Earth, they send for a retired specialist to help them develop a strategy to avoid disaster. Unfortunately, it's the Cold War-era, and success will depend on cooperation with the Russians.

Meteor arrived at the tail end of the disaster film craze of the 1970s. It's certainly not as slick as some, and in historical perspective, the production values and atmosphere are no match for Star Wars (1977) or Alien (1979), despite both of those films having smaller budgets, but it is a competent sci-fi "thriller" that tends to surmount its limitations, at least if you stick it out past the slightly clunky beginning.

At first, it seems like the film might turn out to be a derivative cheese-fest. It has a documentary-styled opening with the tone of a 1960s science educational film. It has Star Wars-styled receding titles. It has text announcing settings in an overdone font like the poster art of the film. Some of the early spaceship shots are lit so that it's clear they were small models filmed in a studio. And a somewhat awkward expository flashback device is used.

But director Ronald Neame also shows signs of transcending his missteps early on. It surely helps that Sean Connery has the starring role, with Karl Malden in a prominent supporting role at the beginning of the film. The script is more humorous than we might expect, although the humor isn't unusual when delivered from Connery. "Why don't you stick a broom up my ass; I could sweep the carpet on my way out", is an early standout line, said by Connery when he's feeling pressure due to what's being asked of him.

The further we go into the film, the more suspenseful it becomes. The drama between NASA, the president and the Russians is beautifully written. The mini-disasters before the threatened big one are exciting and tragic. And the climax is simply fantastic--Neame builds an incredible amount of suspense with a simple countdown, then he follows it up with an equally intense scenario. All of this more gripping material is well acted and well directed, with a more epic scope than we might expect and relatively admirable special effects for the era.

Most interesting, watching Meteor at this point in time, are the countless cultural oddities we get from context. Like many films of the era, Cold War politics looms large. The hinge of the plot is reminiscent of Reagan's "Star Wars" program (maybe he got the idea from the film?--a frightening thought). There are a great many jokes about Russians--at one point, Russian higher-ups fret over whether the national budget can cover a long-distance telephone call. At another point, an American character ironically remarks, "Good news, the Russians are coming".

Even funnier are two oddities very relevant to our present culture. When news of the rogue asteroid is first announced on television, it's a brief update, then they're quickly back to a football game. There's no 24-hour coverage with trumped-up, dramatic graphics and music. And this is a scenario that actually warrants that treatment. The other instance is when American officials are excessively worried that revealing a particular bit of news might result in them being called "liars" and "warmongers". There was no G.W. Bush in the White House in this film.

But as fun as those cultural differences are to note, Meteor is primarily worth watching because of the performances and the fine way in which tension is built throughout its length. It is effective enough to have been influential. Most notably it has strong similarities to Armageddon (1999), which was obviously inspired by this film.
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8/10
More enjoyable than "Armageddon"
Toteit16 April 2006
Really, there was nothing wrong with this film other then some basic scientific flaws, such as the over crowded asteroid belt and the appallingly bad Russian spoken by Wood and Keith. (My Ukrainain wife burst out laughing at their lines when we watched the DVD.) It is very interesting to me that the film was made prior to 1981 and the discovery of the Chixilub meteor crater in the Gulf of Mexico. This was the dinosaur killer that hit 65 million years ago. The science was right on about another Ice Age as well, even before the 1982 studies that predicted "nuclear winter" and were cited as the reason for the great die off in the late Cretaceous period. But the feel of the film as well as the acting and the believability was far better then "Armageddon", 20 years later. If "Meteor" had been blessed with the advanced special effects of the late 1990s, it would have been truly spectacular. Now a few problems: Those missiles were supposed to carry 100 megaton warheads. The largest nuclear weapon ever set off was 50 megatons and that was the size of a Greyhound bus. Also, the missiles had a distinct plastic model look right down to the seam where it looked as if the two halves had been glued together. Still, this should not detract form a very good action film as well as a warning as this really could happen and did at least 65 million years ago.
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3/10
With talented actors like Sean Connery, Natalie Wood, Martin Landau this should have been good...ALAS!
TheLittleSongbird1 June 2010
Now there have been some good disaster movies such as The Poseidon Adventure but there have also been some bad ones. While not the worst movie ever, Meteor I thought was a bad movie. Now I loved the concept and I liked the score, plus Sean Connery gives a charismatic enough performance in possibly the nadir of his acting career. However, what didn't work so well is that the special effects and production values are very dated. Also the script is utter nonsense, the story is poorly structured with a tacked on romantic subplot and a ending that runs out of steam, there is some pedestrian pacing and the direction is meandering. In terms of acting the only actor who impressed was Connery; Natalie Wood was a lovely actress but wasn't given much to do while Martin Landau(the same Martin Landau who was so good in Ed Wood) is embarrassing as the General. Overall, disappointing, had so much potential but didn't work. 3/10 Bethany Cox
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