Arts & Entertainment

Don’t Look Up Review

Netflix Don’t Look Up movie promo cover ( with added text by Max Mwaniki, The Puma Prensa)

by Max Mwaniki, web editor

I spent pretty much half of my quarantine in bed watching tons of movies on Netflix, as I’m sure many others did too. Yet out of all the movies Netflix has put out recently, Don’t Look Up stands out as by far one of the best. 

When Michigan State astronomers, professor Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) and graduate student Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence), discover a planet-ending comet hurling at Earth, they immediately go to the President of the United States, played by legend Meryl Streep—who does absolutely nothing. From there, things spiral out of control as the two astronomers struggle to get their warning out and keep up with the fast-paced world of media. 

Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio), Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence), President Orlean (Meryl Streep), and Jason Orlean (Jonah Hill)

The cast for this movie has some pretty big names. In addition to DiCaprio and Lawrence, there are also appearances from Ariana Grande, Kid Cudi, Chris Evans, and Tyler Perry. It was directed by Adam McKay, who previously helmed huge hits like Anchorman, The Other Guys, and Step Brothers. I was very surprised to see so little excitement around this movie before it came out despite how many known actors there are, but the hype is definitely there now that it is out.

Don’t Look Up actors and producers at the movie premiere photoshoot

The technical aspects of the movie, such as pacing, acting, and cinematography definitely stood out, as well. The movie is 2 hours and 18 minutes long, and none of it felt wasted. There was never a moment when I questioned how long the movie was or when the movie would be over because if there was no dialogue happening, they did a really good job of filling in potential blank spots. They did this by frequently including as a form of transition some aspect of real daily life, like people watching the morning news, or through really cool, creative wide shots. I also loved the cinematic decisions made by Adam McKay, like how at points blurs of social media snippets popped up on the screen, tweets and videos that were society’s reactions to what is happening in the movie. I was impressed with how well they were able to fit chaotic scenes like that in the movie while keeping it easy to follow. It was also a very accurate, though creative and cinematic, representation of how fast we interact with social media. Along with that, a few times throughout the movie at the very climax of a scene, McKay would abruptly cut to a completely different scene, pointing out the absurd jumps that can happen that are completely out of the characters’ control. It almost felt like those moments embodied the characters and not only set the attitude and theme of the movie but helped set the audience in the same space as the characters. Seeing Dr. Mindy panicking and Kate screaming while things are moving in this sort of controlled chaos before the screen pauses, it felt like a breather that was not only much needed but added an aspect of realism to the whole movie. Anyone would panic in this situation. 

What really puts this movie so high on my list of favorites is the underlying message it is trying to convey. One of the main plot points it focuses on is the neglect Dr. Mindy and Kate receive from other scientists, media, and politicians along with how social media’s amazing ability to spread information fast also results in doing the same for misinformation. This movie talks about morals and what people really value, especially for people in higher positions like the president and the officers of big corporations. This movie is basically telling us that even if it was the end of the world because we have built up our societal standards to revolve around things like rapid technological advancement or monetary gain, most would outright ignore, or even make fun of, or even manipulate for their own advantage a world-ending event to obtain these temporary comforts. What’s so great about this movie is that it does all this from a satirical stance on economics, society, politics, and the state of our world. This movie is funny, creative and a great watch but also shows how misinformation spreads, revealing the toxic traits of social media and making the audience rethink what we value today and how much it is really worth. This movie, however, may not be for everyone. It is rated R for vulgar language throughout, some sexual content, graphic nudity, and drug content. Don’t Look Up was a phenomenal movie, and all the actors killed it in their roles. The comedy, satire, and important message rooted in the movie makes it one of my top three favorites of all time.

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