Asteroid

  • 1997
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Disaster

This is the condensed version of a highly-touted but perfectly disposable two-part disaster miniseries that premiered on American network television in early 1997 as an "event," in huckster parlance. Government astronomer Lily McKee (Annabella Sciorra) eagerly anticipates the Fletcher Comet's passage through the solar system, which happens only once every...read more

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This is the condensed version of a highly-touted but perfectly disposable two-part disaster miniseries that premiered on American network television in early 1997 as an "event," in huckster parlance.

Government astronomer Lily McKee (Annabella Sciorra) eagerly anticipates the Fletcher Comet's passage through the solar system, which happens only once every 4,000 years. But the comet collided with some planetoids along the way, and now tows along with it two asteroids, dubbed Helios and Eros, on

a collision course with Earth. Dr. McKee duly alerts authorities, and the case falls to rugged Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Jack Wallach (Michael Biehn). Projections show the small Helios heading toward Kansas City, and Wallach supervises a frantic 48-hour evacuation before the

plummeting rock smashes a dam and floods the metropolis. The remaining asteroid, however, is a larger and deadlier deal; its full impact could well wipe out the human species. The US military employs a prototype laser missile-defense system to zap the oncoming Eros, but instead of vaporizing the

asteroid, it fragments into numerous smaller pieces that rain down. Onscreen action stays confined mostly to Dallas, where Dr. McKee sent her little son Elliott (Zachary B. Charles) for safekeeping with her father, gentle Dr. Napier (Anthony Zerbe). A direct hit devastates the city, and Wallach,

Dr. McKee and a heroic firefighter volunteer (Don Franklin) from Kansas City spearhead rescue operations. They save Elliott and grandpa, then watch as the passing Fletcher Comet lights up the serene morning sky like the rainbow after the Biblical flood.

Even allowing the scaled-down video edit, ASTEROID does neither the actors nor the intelligent viewers any favors, with a chockablock narrative designed mainly to show off bursts of apocalyptic special effects. Mediocre dialogue includes the priceless platitudes delivered by a TV news anchorman

summing up the aftermath: "Life goes on...We go on." That space debris causes the calamities ultimately makes little difference, as cast members gamely fight against familiar onslaughts of flood, fires, and unstable debris. Only the cliffhanger finale, with troublesome Elliott stuck on a building

facade sliding into the blazing maw of a crater, reminds one that this particular disaster had an awesome, nonterrestrial origin. Well, that and a couple of asteroid fragments that hit US landmarks with such video- game accuracy that they underscore the phoniness of it all.

ASTEROID is hardly more substantial than the big-screen bomb METEOR was in 1979, and some of the clumsy special-effects miniatures--Dr. Napier's home gets knocked over like a dollhouse--show little improvement over the decades. The Dante-esque vision of smoking, post-holocaust Dallas is indeed

impressive, but technical limitations keep the camera locked in tight closeup on Biehn and Charles during what should be an epic life-or-death struggle (even if it involves the cheapest thrill gimmick of all, endangering a child).

The only thing really big and scary about ASTEROID was the promotional hype surrounding it, to the extent that cable-TV's Family Channel offered their own imitation, a "movie event" called DOOMSDAY ROCK. (Violence.)

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  • Released: 1997
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: This is the condensed version of a highly-touted but perfectly disposable two-part disaster miniseries that premiered on American network television in early 1997 as an "event," in huckster parlance. Government astronomer Lily McKee (Annabella Sciorra) ea… (more)

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