OBSERVANT readers may sometimes wonder why I seldom review science fiction films. I’ve got better things to do. 

And frankly, futurist sci-fi movies populated by extra-terrestrial beings looking like a Hollywood designer’s worst nightmares coming to conquer our planet don’t show anything that I haven’t seen or manifest any purpose beyond grasping ticket money, which rather stifles creative merit

But then along comes writer/director Adam McKay’s message movie firmly grounded on the present time, populated by people who may be fictional but whose provenance and purposes we recognise in our daily media diet.

“Don’t Look Up” runs for 138 minutes (including a helluva long set of closing credits. What follows them briefly delivers a useful and credible truth. And that’s what scared me.

PhD candidate Kate (Jennifer Lawrence) researching what goes on out in space discovers a hitherto undescribed comet. She works the math. She tells her supervisor that in six and a half months at a specified moment, it will collide with earth.

That’s happened before and we’ve survived. But this comet is huge – about nine kilometres huge. And probably it will wipe out most if not all of earth’s living creatures.

The main body of the film tells how Kate and her supervisor Dr Mandy (Leonardo di Caprio) go about preparing for the cataclysm. The screenplay comes close to credibility all the way to the moment of collision, giving it enough time to explore how we humans might respond to our fate. 

Climate change? We won’t be around to see where that takes our planet. Divert the comet off its course? Not on. Spectrometry has determined that it carries squintillions worth in rare earths and whoever gets it first will be very rich. 

The US President can’t see beyond the next election (Meryl Streep handles this role wonderfully well – which is to say, in Trump-like manner). 

The film is convincing for most of its length. Where it veers off its main path, it reminds us about its fictional values, giving Cate Blanchett an opportunity to look drop-dead gorgeous as a sexually-voracious TV newscaster who persuades Mandy into her bed despite the loyal wife who has given him a few strapping sons.

“Don’t Look Up” occasionally diverts its course through those moments before the collision without diminishing its underlying power. Di Caprio’s performance looks Oscar-ish. 

And do stay for the very end, which jumps some 22,700+ years when a group of humans who’ve been somewhere else conducive to survival returns to earth. This brief passage is notable for one element that I found unexpected and, in its way, optimistic for its view of future movies. The returning creatures have no shame about their bodies. Not a stitch.