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Don’t Look UP: Based on Truly Possible Events
(movie.daum.net)

Imagine an “extinction-level” comet hitting the Earth one day. What would you do one last time before everything vanishes? Would you spend your final moments with the ones you love or take revenge on someone you hate? For Kingos, who may have once imagined such scenarios, the Sungkyun Times (SKT) would like to introduce an unrealistic yet also painfully realistic, science fiction black comedy film, Don’t Look Up.

“We’re 100% For Sure Going to Die!”

Introduction to Don’t Look Up

Don’t Look Up is an American black comedy and science fiction movie released on December 8th, 2021. The film tells the story of two scientists attempting to warn the world of a comet that will destroy the Earth. The film was directed and produced by Adam Mckay, best known for the films Big Shot and Vice. Don’t Look Up grabbed attention before its release due to its star-studded cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ariana Grande, and other Hollywood stars. The film recorded 152 million streaming hours on Netflix from the end of last December to the first week of January, breaking the top weekly streaming record. Don’t Look Up was nominated in four different categories at the 94th Academy Awards.

At The White House (movie.daum.net)

Summary (*Spoiler Alert!)

The movie begins with Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence), an astronomy graduate, discovering a large, unidentified comet. While congratulating the discovery, her professor, Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio), calculates that the comet will collide with the Earth in about six months. As soon as the two scientists realize it is an extinction-level emergency, they immediately fly to the White House. However, despite their panic, President Janie Orlean (Meryl Streep) responds mildly and tells them to keep the news secret because of her upcoming election. Nonetheless, Dibiasky and Dr. Mindy appear on a morning talk show to inform the world of the situation, but the hosts treat their news as a “cute” scientific discovery. When President Orlean gets involved in a sex scandal, though, she confirms the threat and announces that she is going to fire a rocket to divert the comet. The rockets are successfully fired the day of the launch, but they are soon canceled mid-flight. With the situation out of hand, humanity soon polarizes into two different groups at the brink of destruction: “Just Look Up,” the side where scientists tell people to look up and see the truth, and “Don’t Look Up,” the side supporting President Orlean’s plans.

Dr. Mindy and Dibiasky on a Morning News Program (movie.daum.net)
President Janie Orlean’s Speech (naver.com)

Three Reasons to Watch Don’t Look Up

Worth Every 132 Minutes

Don’t Look Up is not just a simple doomsday film; rather, it captures the audience with humor and its star-studded cast. Its touch of humor stands out the most, preventing the film from getting boring. Director Adam Mckay was a writer for Saturday Night Live, and he is well-known for creating films that satirize our modern society. The witty lines in Don’t Look Up allow the audience to burst out in laughter, even in serious situations. The film is performed by celebrated actors: the cast combined has won eight Oscar trophies. Don’t Look Up is the only movie where we can see them performing together. Ariana Grande, who appeared as Riley Bina, sang the film’s soundtrack, Just Look Up, which gained popularity through the amazing vocals and intersting lyrics. Mentions about Korea also appear in the film. When Dr. Mindy was panicking due to the public not taking the comet seriously, but then is told that South Korean scientists care about his claims, he answers, “Oh, that’s great, South Korea!” Also, Seoul Station is shown briefly during the announcement of the comet.

Riley Bina’s Just Look Up Stage (vogue.com)

A Warning about Our Tomorrow

Although the film seems comedic, it turns more into a thriller towards the end. Don’t Look Up warns the audience about our tomorrow through several metaphors on climate change. The phrase “based on truly possible events,” which is printed on the poster, proves this point. The film uses a disastrous comet as a tool to represent climate change and mirrors how humanity is facing a crisis. Peter Kalmus, a climate scientist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), positively commented on the film through The Guardian by saying that it shows what it feels like to be a climate scientist today. Overall, the film criticizes the habits of neglecting scientific facts, political polarizing, and capitalism. Leonardo DiCaprio, who stars as Dr. Mindy, mentioned that the film brings a mirror to our entire culture and how we deal with bad news.

Mass Media Responds to the Apocalypse

Don’t Look Up’s representation of the mass media that is facing the end of humanity is another interesting point of the film. The film shows how a celebrity’s scandal tends to become a bigger issue than humanity’s immediate future. In the film, Riley Bina, a renowned pop star, and her reunion with her boyfriend grabbed more attention than the revelation of the comet. In addition, the film portrays how anyone could become either an internet meme or rise to stardom. Dibiasky goes viral online as a meme after she yells at the hosts on the morning talk show. Meanwhile, Dr. Mindy becomes famous, the public calling him “America’s Sexiest Scientist,” and he was even given important roles. Besides, the film represents the role of social media challenges and hashtags. After the president’s announcement of the rocket launch, “Launch Challenge” has become a massive trend on TikTok and various other short-form platforms; also, when the government and scientists become politically divided, social media users showed which side they supported through “Look Up” and “Don’t Look Up” hashtags.

Dibiasky Becomes a Meme (netflix.com)

홍은지  hongeunji129@g.skku.edu

<저작권자 © THE SUNGKYUN TIMES, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>

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