A five-mile-wide chunk of the asteroid Orpheus is on a 30,000 miles per hour collision course with Earth and NASA wants to use the illegal nuclear weapon satellite, Hercules, to resolve the problem.
Discovering it does not have enough firepower, the USA is left with no choice but to join forces with the USSR, which has also launched such an illegal satellite.
The multinational team of scientists is led by America’s leading astrophysicist Dr Paul Bradley (Sean Connery in visible pain and wearing a coat that makes him look like a second division football manager) and includes Soviet astrophysicist Dr Alexi Dubov (Brian Keith), NASA chief Harry Sherwood (Karl Malden), General Adlon (Martin Landau), Sir Michael Hughes (Trevor Howard) and interpreter Tatiana Donskaya (Natalie Wood), all under the command of the (unnamed) President of the United States (Henry Fonda).
The action remains resolutely Earth-bound, making the film almost impossibly boring, mostly involving a selection of slumming-it actors staring at screens while they wait for a meteor fragment to cause chaos somewhere around the globe.
The special-effects sequences seem to mostly involve close-ups of children’s playsets or running taps. These would have been mocked in the 1930s, let alone in the era of Lucas and Spielberg.
In the closing stages of the film, our heroes are at least put in some degree of peril, as a large segment of the meteor wipes out New York, but the scenes are as badly filmed as the rest of the movie, and by that point, it’s too little, too late.
Nowadays, it’s notable mostly as the single worst movie that Connery ever made (pipping The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen to the post by some margin). At $22 million, Meteor was one of the most expensive movies of 1979 and a failure at the American box-office.
It was one of the final films from production house American International Pictures, and the failure of the film is considered to have attributed to AIP’s downfall.
Dr Paul Bradley
Dr Alexi Dubov
Sir Michael Hughes
US Secretary of Defense
Katherine De Hetre
James G. Richardson