Review: ‘Don’t Look Up’ at the screen

Netflixs newest blockbuster Dont Look Up creates an eerily similar world to our own filled with disaster-denying politicians, exploitative businessmen and scientists fighting to save the world; all while a comet is set to destroy the planet.

Photo credit: Don't Look Up Promotional Poster

Netflix’s newest blockbuster “Don’t Look Up” creates an eerily similar world to our own filled with disaster-denying politicians, exploitative businessmen and scientists fighting to save the world; all while a comet is set to destroy the planet.

By Thea Leimone, Features Editor

A $75 million budget and a cast of award-winning actors creates some pretty high expectations for a viewer. Well, prepare to lower them for Adam McKay‘s “Don’t Look Up.” Released on Dec. 24 for Netflix subscribers, the modern dystopian film addresses many of the world’s current issues and lets a bunch of multimillionaire actors perform it for us.

The film is set in modern-day America, where Ph.D candidate at Michigan State, Kate Dibiasky, played by Jennifer Lawrence, discovers a comet of world-ending size is set to hit Earth in six months. Dibiasky and her nerdy and socially anxious astrology professor Randall Mindy, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, bring the groundbreaking news to the attention of government leaders who repeatedly blow it off — much like the quickly approaching point of no return for climate change.

President Orlean, played by Meryl Streep, and her Chief of Staff son, played by Jonah Hill, are set to parallel the circus-like government that has led America, from both sides, in recent years. Orlean is rich and powerful with a fanbase of poor Americans and only chooses to be concerned over whatever will help her ratings — and preventing a world-ending comet will not help.

Dibiasky and Mindy take to the press to warn the public, but are constantly overshadowed by pop culture’s most recent breakups and society’s tendency to turn a blind eye to bad news. Things escalate as the comet is finally taken seriously, that is until Mark Zuckerberg-like businessman Peter Isherwell imposes his financial opinion on the government’s actions.

This film takes the parallels of climate change and lack of government action, as well as society’s preoccupation with the meaningless lives of the rich and famous.  And most destructive of all, corporations concern with profit over human life.

The story is interesting enough, but the execution is poor.

Firstly, comes the length. The film clocks at 2 hours, 25 minutes; a runtime that parallels far greater films such as “The Godfather” andThe Lord of the Rings.” To have an audience sit through something this long is big feat, especially when at around an hour-and-a-half in, the story could be wrapped up nice and easily.

The story is filled with unnecessary plot lines, that, paired with very basic humor and overt satirical parallels to the real world, get old fast. Had the film been more subtle and gradual in its approach to criticizing modern-day America, with sharper and wittier satire, or had it just cut out an hour of unnecessary film, it could have been far more engaging and humorous.

While viewers found it to be both a depressing and eye-opening film, its goal is unclear. A climate change denier isn’t going to draw the parallel between the comet and climate change, nor are they going to care. The government isn’t going to suddenly make a change because of a blockbuster film released on Netflix, viewers won’t start lobbying because of a movie with their favorite movie stars, and the corporations creating this issue certainly won’t give a single thought to someone else calling them out.

While the film is far too long, and the storyline and script are mediocre at best, the performances don’t disappoint. Lawrence and DiCaprio carry the film with their nerdy characters and their differing approaches to try and save the world. Streep is dynamic, as always, and perfectly plays on the blundering, and image-obsessed head of government, while Hill plays his typical comedic relief. Blanchett puts on one of the best performance as the rich news anchor with no morality, and Timothée Chalamet is human and humble as an ex-evangelical teen dealing with the state of the world.

However, the point should be raised of what it means to have such a famous cast act out this story. Because nearly every major character in this story has a net worth of over a hundred million, and made nearly a quarter million more for this film. The story is all about taking action and making a difference before it’s too late, but who can really make a difference here? The rich and famous with millions to spend on endless connections, or the viewer watching a story of inevitable demise?

This isn’t to say that each individual can’t make change, because they most certainly can, but the film misses the mark with the audience and the message it portrays. The film is clearly a blunt, un-sugar coated, wake up call for climate action, but it calls to the wrong people.

  • Story
  • Acting
  • Technical Quality
  • Enjoyment
  • Impact
3.5

Summary

“Don’t Look Up,” Adam Mckay’s recent satirical blockbuster, follows scientists Kate Dibiasky and Randall Mindy as they fight against time, politicians and the media in order to warn the public about a world-ending comet set to hit Earth in six months. The film parallels our world with corrupt politicians, greedy businessmen and societal denial of bad news.