Don’t Look Up is an interesting movie. It’s billed as a satirical sci-fi comedy, which sounds interesting enough as it is, but the premise is actually so sad it’s funny.
Imagine the scenario: a planet-killing asteroid the size of Mt. Everest is heading straight for Earth and the entirety of humanity has six months to do something about it. The problem is, the scientists who discovered the asteroid are the only ones who believe it’s real. So they set out on a media tour in an attempt to get people to actually believe them. Think of this movie as a combination of Idiocracy and Deep Impact. Does it get any better than that?
Director Adam McKay wrote the movie to be a metaphor for climate change and the various beliefs on its own validity. But an interesting thing happened during the film’s creation: a global pandemic hit and not everyone believes it’s real.
While I’m certainly not here to prove or disprove COVID-19’s threat level in this article, the movie translates well to our current situation. No matter which side of the fence you’re on, there’s no denying that politicians and big pharm are having a hard time convincing everyone that there is a real threat. And that’s really what this movie is about, but in a funny way.
The movie makes no attempt to hide the fact that science changes constantly, which leads to more and more skepticism from the general public. While some see this as proof that these scientists have no idea what they’re talking about (or are possibly bought and sold by big pharm), others see this as a natural process of learning about how science works as it’s working.
Speaking with Inverse, asteroid detection scientist Amy Mainzer spoke about this dilemma in the film. “The movie really is about the struggle of scientists to tell what we’re learning about the way the world works,” she said.
Mainzer also worked as an advisor on the movie, designing the asteroid itself specifically for the film. “It’s based on a number of other comets that have similar orbital characteristics and come from the extreme outer part of our solar system,” she said in the interview.
But even with that in mind, she admits that an asteroid that size hitting the Earth is very unlikely, yet the “chance isn’t zero.”
Don’t Look Up stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, and an all-star cast. It’s in select theaters now but hits Netflix on December 24.