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Films

5 Netflix disaster movies to watch if you like ‘Don't Look Up’

Despite the hordes of bad reviews and harsh criticisms, Adam McKay’s newest Netflix disaster flick Don’t Look Up is perhaps the ultimate 2021 film that, in its zany satirical tone, talks about how we have royally screwed up as a species. 

With a star-studded ensemble cast, namely Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett, Jonah Hill, Timothee Chalamet, Meryl Streep, Mark Rylance, Rob Morgan, Ron Pearlman, Tyler Perry, Kid Cudi, Ariana Grande and more, the filmmaker cleverly infuses dark humour in this allegorical take on the current climate change crisis that pervades the world. 

The film’s fatalistic premise sees Michigan State University professor Dr Randall Mindy and his PhD candidate student Kate Dibiasky chance upon a humongous meteor that is hurtling towards earth in six months and will ravage the planet, leading to mass extinction. It serves as a commentary on the predicament of media and politics in the 21st century, surrounded by the burgeoning presence of social media, technology, influencers and more, the film continuously focuses on the banality of human existence and the imminent doom that awaits in this cataclysmic event. 

The film shows how hopeless one feels at the lack of reaction and nonchalance on the part of the wealthy and privileged, even at the brink of complete destruction of humankind and other species.  

If you are a disaster movie aficionado like me and cannot wait to hog on Armaggedon-esque films with a fatalistic end like Don’t Look Up, check out these five disaster films on Netflix now: 

5 Netflix disaster movies to watch if you like ‘Don’t Look Up’

2012 (Roland Emmerich, 2009)

Remember when we had doomsday parties because we thought that the world was going to come to an end in 2012? There was a disaster film that referred to the predictions of the Mayan calendar and saw a brilliant and terrifying portrayal of the cataclysmic events that led to the end of the world. 

In a very Noah’s Arc fashion, a ship was built to take over some lucky ones and animals to safety to the Cape of Good Hope which was the only surviving piece of land amidst the extreme natural calamities. With John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Amanda Peet among others in lead roles, the film was indeed an entertaining yet scary way of watching the world come to an end. 

Arrival (Denis Villeneuve, 2016)

Starring Jeremy Renner, Amy Adams and Forest Whitaker, the film is an innocuous tale of aliens inhabiting the earth where a linguistic expert and her team are tasked with interpreting the language of the aliens. Within the known framework of alien adventure films, Arrival also has the heartrending tale of loss and omniscience. 

Adapted from Ted Chiang’s Story of Your Life, Villeneuve, who always wanted to make the perfect sci-fi film, had chanced upon this tale to create a gloomy tale of love, loss and the bleakness and depravity of the uncertain future the characters reside in. The film deservedly won eight nominations at the 89th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Adapted Screenplay, and won for Best Sound Editing.

The Wandering Earth (Frant Gwo, 2019)

Based on the eponymous award-winning novel by Cixin Liu, the film revolves around the impending doom that awaits humanity as the dying sun will soon engulf the Earth. Scientists forge an escape plan in their attempts to save humanity that involves making the planet escape the solar system in its entirety to reach a star’s orbit that is nearly 4.5 light-years away. 

This is China’s biggest sci-fi blockbuster and Gwo, who thinks that there are a lot of things they need to catch up for, emphasised the importance of the Netflix deal as it would help “people abroad to learn more about the Chinese films and to realise that there is another culture”. The impending sense of doom that pervades the film mirrors Don’t Look Up and is a refreshing breather from the usual Hollywood disaster flicks. 

Contagion (Steven Soderbergh, 2011)

Following the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the film hits closer home. An albeit exaggerated scenario of the pandemic yet an ominous foreshadowing of the same, the film sees a woman returning from Hong Kong with a strange respiratory disease that kills her and spreads rapidly subsequently. As the mortality rate continues to increase, the leads must race against time to find a cure for this global pandemic. 

Starring Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow and others, the film appears even more horrifying in the current scenario when the world is actually being ravaged by something similar. The serious and frightening pace of the film drives in the despairing idea of isolation and death that alarmingly resonates with our current predicament. 

Deep Impact (Mimi Leder, 1998)

Think of Don’t Look Up minus the biting satirical tone, the ignorant and irresponsible President and the general nonchalance on the part of the privileged- that is Leder’s 1998 flick for you. Along the similar lines of McKay’s film, the earth is on its way towards inevitable destruction due to a deadly comet hurling itself towards the planet. 

The President, who is determined to save mankind, is seen devising an extensive plan to put an end to the disaster. Starring Morgan Freeman, Elijah Wood and others, the film is phenomenal as an asteroid impact film and accurately represents the doomsday scenarios.