Like many of its predecessors, "METEOR" was another run-of-the-mill 70's 'disaster' flick which tried to cash in on the dying genre with the rather tired scenario of the threat of a meteorite hurtling towards Earth with no one other than a handful of American and Russian scientists there to try and stop it.
Sean Connery and Karl Malden play the American NASA scientists assigned to team up with Russian counter-parts, Brian Keith and Natalie Wood to try and figure out how to prevent the meteor from colliding with Earth. Smaller roles are portrayed by Martin Landau as a megalomaniacal military officer, Trevor Howard as a British correspondent and Henry Fonda as 'the President of the United States'.
Although a respectable and credible actor, Henry Fonda chose several 70's disaster duds to star in, each one having him credited as a 'special star'. For example, there was "THE SWARM" which stated.. "and Henry Fonda as Dr. Krim"... and then there was "CITY ON FIRE" which stated.. "and Henry Fonda as Chief Albert Risley" and the highly overlooked "ROLLERCOASTER" where he is introduced as "Simon Davenport". The opening credit sequence for "METEOR" looks quite cheap. A smoke machine spews a steady plume across a shot of the galaxy as yellow letters spring forward introducing the 'big-named' stars, concluding with "...and Henry Fonda as The President". Unfortunately, that is one of the first signs that you will see that will prove this film is a turkey.
As was the format for the 70's disaster film, the plot involved the main disaster itself, a handful of small 'disaster sequences' to keep the audience interested and a sub-plot involving either one or several romantic leads that connect the 'big-named' stars together. For 'EARTHQUAKE', it was Charlton Heston and Genevieve Bujold, with Ava Gardner on the sidelines. In 'THE TOWERING INFERNO', there were two leads... Fred Astaire with Jennifer Jones, and Steve McQueen with Faye Dunaway. In "METEOR", attempts are made to ignite a dead flame between Sean Connery and Natalie Wood which just doesn't quite work.
Putting the romance aside, we're left with cheap special effects and the 'ego' chemistry between Martin Landau and Sean Connery. The special effects themselves may have been top-of-the-line for 1979, but by today's standards, they are quite laughable. Scenes of a small asteroid impacting with a Scandinavian ski resort are of note. A 'red light' that is almost 'UFO-like' strikes a snow-capped mountain which explodes like a volcano and has the residents of a ski-village running for cover while stock footage of avalanches are entwined with the film. You can even see the outline of the avalanche print that has been placed onto the final film edit! Another small scene towards the end of the film has Sean Connery leading a group of people through a subway below the Hudson River that is in danger of flooding. Brown water oozes in through the walls as the group of survivors make their way out, but the whole thing comes off like a scene taken out of "WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY".
The biggest fault here with this film was the lack of interesting characters. We discover that Sean Connery is 'separated' from his wife and that his character will be prone to a romantic connection in the film, but the viewer is given no information about Natalie Wood's past except for the brief information that her husband was killed in an accident and the scenes that the two leads share together are quite dull and transparent. Karl Malden brilliantly makes the best of what he can with the material he is given and I felt that he was the most convincing character among them all.
Although this film has its faults, there are indeed some good things about it. The idea that both Russia and the U.S. had satellites orbiting each country armed with nuclear missiles is certainly food for thought, especially stemming off the Cold War which was still an issue at the time. Also the fact that neither country wanted to admit that they had them up there in the first place until a disaster forced them to was also a good idea. Natalie Wood in one of her final film roles was quite convincing as a Russian translator and it is always a pleasure to see her on the big screen. What convinced her to star in this film though, I will never know.
While not as awful as "CITY ON FIRE", "THE SWARM" and "WHEN TIME RAN OUT", this film was certainly a contributing factor to the downward spiral of the dying fad of disaster films.
Review by Aussie Stud from the Internet Movie Database.