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It should have been easy to manipulate our emotions with this story about a comet on a collision course with earth—the idea of humans facing extinction has been successfully exploited often enough. But Michael Tolkin and Bruce Joel Rubin's straightforward script and Mimi Leder's toneless direction make this attempt so boring that the titles counting down the months, weeks, and finally hours to impact are best used to gauge how soon the movie will be over. Unfortunately Morgan Freeman, the compassionate, helpless U.S. president, and Robert Duvall, an astronaut who finds he hasn't passed his prime, have less time on-screen than Tea Leoni, who's unconvincing as a journalist trying to make the most of the situation. The conspiracy subplot she exposes is the last thing this 1998 movie needs as it lumbers toward less than a minute's worth of kind of neat special effects. 120 min.

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