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|Robert Duvall||Capt. Spurgeon 'Fish' Tanner|
|Téa Leoni||Jenny Lerner|
|Elijah Wood||Leo Biederman|
|Vanessa Redgrave||Robin Lerner|
|Morgan Freeman||President Tom Beck|
|Maximilian Schell||Jason Lerner|
|Leelee Sobieski||Sarah Hotchner|
|James Cromwell||Alan Rittenhouse|
|Jon Favreau||Gus Partenza|
|Laura Innes||Beth Stanley|
|Mary McCormack||Andrea Baker|
|Richard Schiff||Don Biederman|
|Blair Underwood||Mark Simon|
|Charles Martin Smith||Dr. Marcus Wolf (uncredited)|
|Una Damon||Marianne Duclos|
|Kurtwood Smith||Otis Hefter|
|Dougray Scott||Eric Vennekor|
|Mark Moses||Tim Urbanska|
|Ron Eldard||Oren Monash|
|Derek de Lint||Theo Van Sertema|
|Mike O'Malley||Mike Perry|
|Steven Spielberg||Executive Producer|
|Richard D. Zanuck||Producer|
|James Horner||Original Music Composer|
|Walter F. Parkes||Executive Producer|
|Bruce Joel Rubin||Screenplay|
|Dietrich Lohmann||Director of Photography|
|Joan Bradshaw||Executive Producer|
"Heaven and Earth are about to collide."
"Oceans rise. Cities fall. Hope survives."
On May 10, 1998, teenage amateur astronomer Leo Biederman (Wood) discovers an unusual object near the stars Mizar and Alcor at a star party in Richmond, Virginia with his school's astronomy club. His teacher alerts astronomer Marcus Wolf (Smith), who realizes that the object is a comet on a collision course with Earth. Wolf tries to get the information out, but dies in a car accident before he can alert the world.
A year later, MSNBC reporter Jenny Lerner (Leoni) investigates the resignation of the Secretary of the Treasury (Cromwell) and his connection to "Ellie". She discovers that Ellie is not a mistress but an acronym: "E.L.E.", for "Extinction-Level Event". Because of Lerner's investigation, President Tom Beck (Freeman) advances the announcement of the grim facts: the comet, named Wolf-Biederman, is 7 miles (11 km) long—large enough to cause a mass extinction, and possibly wipe out humanity, if it hits Earth. The United States and Russia have been secretly constructing a spacecraft, called the Messiah, in orbit. They plan to use it to transport a team that includes Captain Spurgeon Tanner (Duvall) to the comet, so that its path toward Earth can be intercepted with nuclear weapons.
After landing on the comet, the crew members plant nuclear bombs 100 meters beneath the surface. When the bombs are detonated, the ship is damaged and loses contact with Earth. Instead of being knocked off-course, the comet splits into two smaller rocks nicknamed "Biederman" (1.5 miles (2.4 km) long) and "Wolf" (6 miles (9.7 km) long), both world-threatening.
Beck announces the Messiah crew’s failure, declares martial law, and reveals that governments worldwide have been building underground shelters. The United States' shelter is in the limestone caves of Missouri. The US government conducts a lottery to select 800,000 ordinary Americans under age 50 to join 200,000 pre-selected scientists, engineers, teachers, artists, soldiers, and officials. Lerner and Leo's families are pre-selected, but Leo's girlfriend Sarah Hotchner (Sobieski) is not. Leo marries Sarah to save her family but the Hotchners are mistakenly left off the evacuee list; Sarah refuses to leave without them.
A last-ditch effort to use Earth's missile-borne nuclear weapons to deflect the two chunks of the comet fails. Leo returns home looking for Sarah, but her family has left for the Appalachian Mountains and is trapped in a traffic jam on the highway. Leo catches up to the family using a small motorcycle in the Hotchners' garage. Sarah's parents urge Leo to take Sarah and her baby brother to high ground; Sarah still does not want to abandon her parents, but they convince her to let them go. Lerner gives up her seat in the last evacuation helicopter to her friend Beth, who has a young daughter. She instead joins her estranged father (Schell) at her childhood beach house where they reconcile and remember happier times.
The Biederman fragment impacts in the Atlantic Ocean near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, creating a megatsunami. Leo, Sarah, and her baby brother survive. Lerner, her father, Sarah's parents, and millions of other people perish as the tsunami destroys the Atlantic coasts of North and South America, Europe, and Africa. The world braces for the impact of Wolf in western Canada, which will create a cloud of dust that will block out the sun for two years. This, in turn, will destroy most life on Earth. Low on fuel and life support, the crew of the Messiah decides to undertake a suicide mission with the remaining nuclear warheads. After saying goodbye to their loved ones by video conference, the ship reaches the fragment and enters a fissure to blow itself up, which breaks Wolf into much smaller pieces that burn up in Earth's atmosphere.
President Beck, speaking to a large crowd in front of the United States Capitol building, which is undergoing reconstruction, urges the nation and the world to continue their recovery.
DVD : 2004-10-05
DVD : 1998-12-15