Don’t Look Up is a sci-fi comedy written, directed and produced by Adam McKay.
PhD candidate, Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) discovers a comet 5-10km wide which could lead to Earth’s extinction. Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio), who works with Dibiasky calculates that the comet will hit Earth in 6 months and 14 days.
After confirming their calculations with NASA, Dr. Oglethorpe (Rob Morgan) who is NASA’s Head of Planetary Defence urges both Kate and Dr. Mindy to take action. The three of them approached the US president, Janie Orlean (Meryl Streep) and her Chief of Staff son, Jason Orlean (Jonah Hill) to present their findings, but were not taken seriously. They then tried going on a morning talk show to inform the world of their findings. However, the hosts, Jack Bremmer (Tyler Perry) and Brie (Cate Blanchett) made light of the situation, causing Kate to lose her composure and become an online meme.
President Orlean finally decides to take action when she was trying to win political power after news of her scandal hit the news. The US decides to launch a nuclear weapon to strike the incoming comet. However, the launch was aborted once Peter Isherwell (Mark Rylance), the CEO of the telecommunications technology company BASH discovers rare minerals on the comet. BASH wants to break the comet into pieces and recover the minerals using their technological drones, but their method has not undergone peer review.
Kate gives up on convincing the White House to take necessary actions and goes back to Illinois to work in a retail store. There she meets a shoplifter, Yule (Timothée Chalamet) and begins a relationship with him. When the comet becomes visible, Kate reconciles with Dr. Mindy and they use their voice on social media to educate society, telling them that the evidence can be seen- just look up. Pop singer Riley Bina (Ariana Grande) joins their cause while President Orlean tells the world “Don’t Look Up”.
BASH’s mission to break the comet fails and the comet hits Earth as Kate, Yule, Dr. Oglethorpe, Dr. Mindy and his family say a prayer. President Orlean and Peter Isherwell escape on a ship and find another planet, but President Orlean was eaten by a Bronterac not long after they got off the ship.
If there’s one thing that will convince someone to watch Don’t Look Up, it will definitely be its star-studded cast. Even the minor characters are filled with prominent names like Kid Cudi, Chris Evans and Ishaan Khatter. It is as if the Avengers of movie stars decided to come together to make this movie, as just like the Avengers, they do not disappoint. I do find Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Rylance particularly fantastic because of the characters they play. DiCaprio played a nerdy, shy professor who made some mistakes but is still kind and wholesome at the same time. Meanwhile, Rylance plays a CEO with god-complex who seems like a fusion between Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs- and he made it work!
Although Don’t Look Up is an enjoyable film, it has a more serious undertone. The movie is actually hinting at the effect of climate change on our planet. Adam McKay had spoken to space.com about how he used the metaphor of a disastrous comet to represent the climate change impacts we are facing today. The whole film is a satire that shows us how politicians and the media do not take environmental issues seriously even though they are in a dire state. They are more focused on their political campaigns and news about a singer’s breakup. The public are divided between those who care about the issue and those who choose not to believe the problem exists. I truly love this aspect of the film as the satire truly hits home.
However, I do believe the messaging might have been lost occasionally throughout the whole movie. The film tries to strike a balance between sci-fi drama and comedy, but I felt the comedic element taking more weight for the most part of the film. This would have steered the audience from the main narrative and therefore leads to a lack of urgency about the situation.
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