Sean Connery, shirt unbuttoned halfway to his navel, plays chicken with a meteor fragment heading straight for his base, while Natalie Wood and Martin Landau watch. Will it strike before he can launch his missiles to destroy the big meteor?
1979's Meteor isn't exactly the greatest movie ever made — it's really, really slow and the days of waiting for the meteor to arrive appear to unfold in real time. But it's at least a reasonably realistic view of what it would be like to try and prevent a meteor from hitting the Earth, especially as compared to Michael Bay and J.J. Abrams' Armageddon. (A detailed analysis by a NASA official who appears knowledgeable about such issues ranks Meteor in the middle of deadly-meteor movies, better than Armageddon but not as good as Deep Impact.)
What Meteor does have going for it is its fantastic cast, including Connery, Wood, Landau and Henry Fonda. And there are some insane moments, like when Connery is escaping from the subterranean base after the fragment hits New York, and he gets a toupee made out of mud (or possibly sewage.) Poor Sean Connery — the late 1970s were not a good time for his dignity. Since the film attempts to present a semi-realistic timeframe for these events — the meteor is detected ages in advance, and then after the rockets are launched, it takes ages for them to reach their target — a lot of the drama comes from the fact that the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. are both using their space-based weapons systems, which they developed to attack each other, to defend the Earth.
Martin Landau plays the military idiot who would rather protect his precious weapons system (and keep it secret) than save the planet from a threat he's not sure is real. Leading to the movie's absolute scene, Martin Landau's hissy fit after the first meteor fragment does no damage at all: