As part of my movie watching for TGGeeks I’ve decided to take a look at movies for the LGBTQ community that have probably flown under most people’s radar, and this time I’m going to examine the 2006 sci-fi/action thriller, Deadly Skies.
Dr. Madison Taylor from the Near Earth Asteroid Tracking System (N.E.A.T.S.) has detected a large asteroid that is on a collision course with Earth. After speaking with a colleague (Dr. Covington) at Project Safe Skies (a government-funded agency) where she is dismissed as being an alarmist, followed by a dark room meeting with Air Force General Dutton at the Pentagon, she meets with a former Major Richard Donovan who worked on a laser meant to deflect asteroids that might impact Earth. At first, Donovan has no wish to help in part because he’s gay and left the military and the scientific community because of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Donovan’s Air Force boyfriend, Lt. Mark Lewis, talks Donovan into helping out, but there are those in the military that would rather see them fail.
This movie is a bit of a mess. I’m unsure as to whether or not this movie is an independent production, but if it had come out in the ’90s I can see it sitting on the shelf with all of the other direct-to-video movies at your local Blockbuster Video store. That is how cheap it is. For starters, the science in this movie is rather dreadful. When Madison tries to convince Covington that the threat is real she hands him a report that is more about a supernova turned nebula (the report doesn’t mention the nebula but there are pictures of one) that is supposed to present a model of the expansion of space. It even makes mention of a runaway star, but it doesn’t say anything about this specific asteroid heading towards Earth. Also, where Madison works, which is considered a fringe group in the scientific community, has technology that is light-years ahead of anything at Project Safe Skies, the OFFICIAL scientific organization meant to study the skies for this very purpose. As for the equipment that N.E.A.T.S. has, it’s just a sophisticated piece of computer software that I would expect Project Safe Skies to easily have as well.
The movie plays at times like a government conspiracy. When Donovan tries to dissuade Madison from pursuing this matter any further he ominously tells her that she’s getting mixed up in something far bigger than she can realize. Lastly, General Dutton is worse than some B-movie cliché. He is quite willing to shut down any attempt to knock this asteroid out of the way because he simply wishes to save his own skin with the President. He doesn’t care that humanity might be wiped out. He IS worried about his job. Then there is the issue of Donovan and why he left the Air Force. He goes on about the evils of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and what it forces closeted soldiers to do as well as about the lies and hidden agendas that the government is involved in, so now the movie has become a PSA with government conspiracies. Also, there are two scenes that are practically pornographic in showing same-sex relationships. Part of the prologue shows two young women who slip into a pool, remove their tops, and then start to get amorous with each other for a couple of minutes. Later, when the story transitions over to Donovan we see him in bed with his boyfriend Mark where both of them are naked and “getting busy.” As a gay man, I can see how this scene might prove to be exciting, but both scenes feel too long. This is not a porn movie I’ve chosen to watch. It’s supposed to be a sci-fi thriller where the hero happens to be gay and giving a somewhat graphic love scene that lasts almost 90 seconds sends another confusing message as to what kind of movie this is supposed to be.
However, Deadly Skies is not an entire loss. A good portion of the movie deals with a military installation near DC where the laser is located. I was impressed with the specifics that went into making it look like an official military base. These were very strong details that helped to give the story some desperately needed credibility. Sadly, the building that was supposed to house the laser was a hydroelectric generator plant. Still, if JJ Abrams can use a brewery as the Engineering Room for Star Trek, then I can let this pass as well. Unfortunately, the movie also utilized some CGI effects for the asteroid, the laser, and the structure where the laser is kept and it looked very poor in quality.
The climactic moment could have been better, but it wasn’t terrible. I am MOST happy that this movie did not employ the “kill the gays” trope by eliminating either Mark or Donovan. In fact, except for the two girls in the Palm Springs pool during the prologue, this movie had no body count, which is a refreshing change.
Antonio Sabato Jr. is hard to accept as queer hero Donovan. His acting was stiff and he mostly had a mono-delivery. His personal values that he espouses makes believing him as a gay hero even more than problematic. Still, he wasn’t dreadful. Rae Dawn Chong as Madison Taylor came off well here. She has proven herself as a capable actress. If her performance here suffered it might have been due to weak direction, editing, or possibly just the story material. Dominic Zamprogna as Hockstetter was fine. It was a small part, but he did well as a sidekick to Chong’s Madison.
Michael Boisvert as Mark was satisfying. Okay, he was more than satisfying only because he’s quite the good looking man. Both he and Sabato Jr. are straight, but who doesn’t like to look at a couple of handsome men paired up like that? Besides, Boisvert did a good job with the military role and had strong on-screen chemistry with Sabato Jr. Michael Moriarty is well established as an actor. As General Dutton, he was practically a stereotype when it comes to the portrayal of unintelligent military generals, but that is not the fault of Moriarty. His performance was good, but the material he had to work with was two-dimensional. Lastly, Rob La Belle is no stranger to science fiction, especially playing roles like Dr. Covington. He managed to show what he’s capable of in the sci-fi series First Wave as Crazy Eddie. He did manage to show some of that here, but the part didn’t allow him to fully exploit his talents.
This movie, written by Keith Shaw and directed by Sam Irvin, is flawed. I won’t primarily place the blame on the cast. I rather liked them, even with Sabato Jr.’s stiff acting. There were plenty of plot items that came off as well thought out, especially with areas of the military. However, the story is uneven. The movie doesn’t quite know what it wants to be so it’s constantly shifting direction. It also left some threads dangling that I found unsatisfying, most notably what happened to General Dutton afterward, and nothing was done regarding Donovan and his career. He is seen with Mark at the very end of the film, which I did find satisfying, but nothing is mentioned regarding what he’s doing now, or if he was allowed to be reinstated.
With all that, I liked this movie. I admit that I have a new “guilty pleasure.” There were enough positive elements to make me enjoy this, despite the glaring errors that were presented early on. I still managed to get caught up in the characters and their efforts to try and save the planet, despite how ridiculous it was presented. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but Deadly Skies is a fun, if not highly flawed, movie. The heroic characters are for the most part likable and the action is at times exciting.
With all of its flaws, along with enjoyable characters, I give Deadly Skies 3.5 out of 5 Asteroids.
Deadly Skies can be seen on HereTV. There is a version on YouTube where all of the LGBTQ content was removed and the movie was retitled Force Of Impact.