Friday, December 31, 2021

Don't Look Up

Movie Name:
Don't Look Up
Year of Release: 2021
Director: Adam McKay
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Timothee Chalamet, Melanie Lynskey, Mark Rylance, Ron Perlman, Tyler Perry, Ariana Grande, Himesh Patel, Michael Chiklis, Tomer Sisley, Robert Joy, Paul Guilfoyle, Conor Sweeney
Genre: Comedy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 4
Watch it on Netflix

Synopsis and Review:
Director Adam McKay is back, following his previous film "Vice", which focused on former vice-president Dick Cheney, and featured great performances from both Christian Bale and Amy Adams. This new feature, which Netflix has produced and is releasing, is packed with big name actors and is a broad satire on the greed of the world and corporate malfeasance that is permeating across society. The film focuses on the story of two scientists, Dr. Randall Mindy and Kate Dibiasky. Kate currently working on her PHD, uncovers a meteor hurling towards our solar system, and immediately notifies Dr. Mindy of her discovery. As he makes his calculations in terms of the trajectory of the comet, he and his team come to the horrifying realization that the comet is in fact going to hit Earth, and its impact will destroy life on the planet. They quickly set a plan in motion, which includes notifying the authorities, which eventually gets them in touch with the White House. The leadership of the country is currently under the direction of populist President Orlean, with support of her nonsensical son, and this team takes the news in a much different manner both scientists anticipated. As they devise a plan to destroy the comet, with the cooperation of worldwide governments, things suddenly take a different turn, when the comet is found to have minerals which can boost the profitability of BASH, one of the biggest companies in the world, and a major donor for the current President's campaign. 
Adam McKay has managed to assemble a terrific cast to lead this somewhat blunt satire on American greed, politics and generally speaking, the corporate mercenary type of ideology which seems to dominate not just the American society, but the world in general. The film, which has at its core a very "Armageddon/Deep Impact" type of premise, tries to anchor its narrative on the two scientists who uncover the pending catastrophe, but fails to provide much dimension or much of an arc for what they're actually going through. While both Randall and Kate are supposedly the sensical eyes witnessing the surreality of what is taking place, sadly they're somewhat of a blank canvas, aside from very generic persona/character definition that is assigned to them from early on: Randall is the middle aged scientist, with a rather suburban existence, who gets thrown into the spotlight, is dazzled by the popularity and attention, becomes an endorser for a series of lies, loses his soul, only to somehow redeem himself as the world is coming to an end. Kate is somewhat a no-nonsense student, who detests politics, cares for the environment, but in the process, loses her opportunistic boyfriend and rebels against the political web of lies being crafted, only to find herself pushed out, until she eventually comes to accept the end of it all. Most of the supporting characters are broad satires from well known personalities, including political figures, CEOs, TV Hosts, Entertainers, everyone gets thrown in the massive blender, and yet not one of these characters particularly registers, since they're mostly crafted as puppets. The biggest issue with this film isn't the fact that the situation isn't ripe for satire: it is, and we all understand the players on/of the game. The main issue lies with the fact that in order for this scenario to actually resonate, the characters have to be more than just a collection of tics, and somewhat shocking antics. What we collectively have witnessed in real life has surpassed some of the nonsense that the director has put on display here, so for a satire to be impactful, there needs to be a point of view that is both acidic and corrosive in what it depicts but also humane, in order for us to be moved and humored by what is illustrated. And that requires looking a bit deeper, and showing us more than just the obvious. While the cast is willing to play along, Leonardo DiCaprio who is always so brilliant, is wasted here, the same going for the supporting turns from Cate Blanchett and Meryl Streep, both of whom go very broad in their interpretations of their characters. Jennifer Lawrence manages to remain consistent with her type of characters even if her role is a bit of a waste. The production team is impeccable, including cinematography by Linus Sandgren and score from Nicholas Brittell. While not a terrible film, it's not a particularly memorable one, once again proving that Netflix has an odd track record for what it produces, versus what it buys.