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Philae Comet Landing Reminiscent Of 'Armageddon,' 'Deep Impact'


NPR film critic Bob Mondello is always looking for an excuse to watch old movies - sometimes classics, sometimes guilty pleasures. So between NASA's postponing of the Orion launch today and the landing a couple of weeks ago of a European craft on a comet, he's found an excuse to dig out some favorites. We'll let him tell you about them.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) We have booster ignition.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: In the spring of 1998, there were two films about close encounters of the sub planetary kind. In "Armageddon," Bruce Willis was our last line of defense as an asteroid the size of Texas hurtled earthward.


BRUCE WILLIS: (As Harry Stamper) The United States government just asked us to save the world. Anybody want to say no?

MONDELLO: In "Deep Impact," a young actor, who would grow up to be Frodo in "Lord Of The Rings," discovered that Earth was threatened by a killer comet. The solution was not to study these objects, as the European spacecraft is doing, but to plant nuclear bombs on them and blow them to smithereens - much more cinematic, though there were human complications.


STEVE BUSCEMI: (As Rockhound) Yee haw, ride 'em cowboy.

WILLIAM FICHTNER: (As Colonel Willie Sharp) Get off the nuclear warhead.

MONDELLO: The comet movie "Deep Impact" was generally regarded as the more scientifically accurate picture, though this was splitting hairs and hardly high praise. The films were mostly goofy excuses for explosions and billions of casualties, for which audiences who were just starting to panic about Y2K - remember that - lined up and paid very close to a billion dollars.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) I love you.

MONDELLO: Oh, the humanity. I'm Bob Mondello. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Bob Mondello
Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.