Hyperventilating in a bathroom, actor Leonardo DiCaprio repeatedly chants “You’re here now” in the opening moments of Netflix’s trailer for a new film portraying a fictional comet threatening Earth.
We only get a few glimpses of what to expect for “Don’t Look Up,” which debuts in select theaters Dec. 10 and comes worldwide to Netflix on Dec. 24. For one thing, we don’t know yet what the comet is made of, how big it is or its chances of hitting the Earth.
But it doesn’t look good for humanity so far in this trailer. Military jets fly over the U.S. Capitol, protests erupt around the country, and astronomer Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) gives tense looks at the sky from the streets of New York City.
“Your breathing is stressing me out,” the U.S. president’s son and chief of staff Jason Orlean (played by Jonah Hill) tells astronomer Randall Mindy (DiCaprio) in the Oval Office, during a meeting discussing the impending threat.
“This will affect the entire planet,” retorts Mindy, to which Orlean responds, “I know, but it’s like, so stressful.”
Unimpressed, Dibiasky tells Orlean and the president that a comet is “heading directly towards Earth”, but it sounds like nobody wants to take them seriously.
“You know how many ‘the world is ending’ meetings we’ve had?” President Janie Orlean (Meryl Streep) asks, hands crossed over her chest.
Her son leans his head back on the couch in mock exhaustion. “Drought, famine, hole in the ozone, it’s so boring,” he adds, as Mindy gives him yet another terrified look.
“Don’t Look Up” is directed by Adam McKay of “Ant-Man” and “The Big Short” (both from 2015); this will be his first major space film. The movie also marks at least the fourth time that DiCaprio and Hill have appeared in the same production, following “Django Unchained” (2012), “Wolf” (2013) and “The Wolf of Wall Street” (2013).
The starring actors have some notable space film experience among them; DiCaprio was the narrator of the 2010 IMAX film “Hubble” and Lawrence was a stranded journalist aboard an interstellar vessel in 2016’s “Passengers.”
“Don’t Look Up” follows decades of heritage in Hollywood of actors finding every way possible to get rid of impending comet and asteroid threats.
Some of the more famous entrants include 1998’s “Armageddon” starring Bruce Willis and a suite of fictional oil-drillers-turned-astronauts, 1998’s “Deep Impact” with a young Elijah Wood (Frodo from the 2001-03 “Lord of the Rings” trilogy), 2012’s “Seeking A Friend for the End of the World” with Steve Carell of “The Office” fame, and 2020’s “Greenland” that followed the aftermath of a fictional interstellar comet’s arrival.
In real life, NASA plans a 2022 launch to send a spacecraft called DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) to eventually slam into the moon of asteroid Didymos, as a test for asteroid deflection in the future. The agency also engages in preventative activities through its Planetary Defense Coordination Office, which seeks potentially hazardous asteroids through a network of partner telescopes and agencies.
The science of asteroids evolves quickly. For example, earlier in 2021, a potentially threatening asteroid called Apophis shed its hazardous status for at least the next 100 years following further observations that refined its predicted orbit. Happily, ongoing observations of comets and asteroids show no impending threats to our planet, but astronomers keep searching just in case.
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