Once again, we have a film that isn't doing so wonderfully on the critical side - but it definitely has a fairly solid following from your average fan. As for myself, I think we have a movie that, at this point in time, we really, truly need, and just about everyone needs to check out. Not to preach, but it's the underlying message the movie delivers (and even punctuates with a bit, fat exclamation mark). What's the message? Well, read on.
As the film opens, we meet an astronomy Ph.D. candidate named Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence), working with the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii. She discovers a comet, and reports it to her professor, Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio). But what's initially cause for celebration turns into cause for panic, as Mindy calculates that the comet is on a path directly towards Earth. The impact will make for an extinction level event, so is immediately reported to NASA, who then confirms the details. Kate and Randall are then sent to the White House to report their findings, along with NASA's head of Planetary Defense Coordination, Dr. Teddy Oglethorpe (Rob Morgan).
Once there, however, the scientists are met passively by President Janie Orlean (Meryl Streep) and her Chief of Staff, Jason (Jonah Hill), whose position has something kind of hilarious behind it, but I'm not going to spoil that. From there, all I'll really say is that Randall and Kate become sort of accidental celebrities, and a lot of it is to push Orlean's campaign, as presidential midterms are just around the corner. While Randall begins to make a name for himself through no real fault of his own, he experiences the pressures of being a celebrity while alternately trying very hard to get the important message of impending doom through.
Meanwhile, Kate becomes a little more of a meme, and famous for all the wrong reasons. She wants nothing more than to warn the world of what's about to happen, and can't stand how ignorant the world gets when it comes right down to it. It further dabbles in things like conspiracy theories, and people creating their own stories and theories even though there's clear-as-day data staring them right in the face. Indeed, this is another movie that will make us all take a good, hard look at ourselves. It's also done as a dark comedy, so with that, in a lot of ways, I'd compare it to something like 'Idiocracy' (but not as "dumb-fun").
I suppose I can see where critics are actually coming from when it comes to looking at the movie as a whole. The idea that the film doesn't really know what it wants to be springs to mind, and with that, perhaps there's a point. However, my personal taste sees this as something meant to be taken seriously with its message, but the execution of it is meant to be taken as a comedy about the world's general ignorance and apathy when something catastrophic comes along. We really do have it sort of programmed into us to assume that things are well in hand for worst case scenarios. But do we? I mean, do we really?
Anyway, I should point out that the underlying message of the film is just one of the better pieces of it. Otherwise, you have a pretty stellar cast of talent, and the performances are all great. Other than those mentioned, we also get the likes of Cate Blanchett, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry, Timothée Chalamet, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, Kid Cudi, Michael Chiklis and a few more I'm sure I'm missing. But damn, for a Netflix original, they went all out with the casting. To top it off, this is written and directed by Adam McKay; the guy who gave us the 'Anchorman' movies, and who worked alongside Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish for the 'Ant-Man' screenplay.
So, while I highly recommend this movie to people right now, I will admit that it won't necessarily be for everyone. There is a bit of an acquired taste going on here with things like cinematography and the darkness of the comedy within the script. This is one of those movies that just might make you start yelling at your screen in frustration; but that's what the comedy is all about here. Personally, I think it's a brilliant film in its execution, but there's a lot of my personal taste scattered throughout this movie as well. I tend to be a bit odd at times (just look at my passion for 'Scott Pilgrim vs The World'). Anyway, if you have Netflix and about 2.5 hours to kill (yeah, sorry, it's a bit long) I say go for it. If nothing else, it'll make you think.