This is only the second Lars von Trier movie I have seen. The first was Antichrist, and I will never look at foxes or scissors the same way again.
This movie starts with an overture, which is kind of cool. The overture shows slow motion clips of things that will happen later in the movie, including Kirsten Dunst with lightning shooting out of her fingertips and a planet crashing into Earth. The overture goes on a little too long, but it is effective at setting the mood of the film. The operatic music is great, and every one of the scenes could be a painting.
After the overture, the movie is divided into 2 parts. The first is called "Justine" and it takes place during a wedding party. Justine (Dunst) has just married Michael (Alexander Skarsgard) and their wedding is taking place in a huge mansion / castle owned by Justine's sister and brother-in-law, Claire and John (Charlotte Gainsbourgh and Kiefer Sutherland). Justine's divorced partents (John Hurt and Charlotte Rampling) are there, and they fight the whole time. Justine is suffering from some kind of depression, and that's about it for this first section. Not a lot happens, and this hour of the movie could have easily been compressed into 15 minutes.
The second part is called "Claire", and the only characters are Justine, Claire, John, and their son Leo (Cameron Spurr). A new planet called Melancholia has been discovered, and it may be on a collision course with Earth.
The entire movie is 2 hours and 15 minutes, and I would have liked it a lot more if it had been around an hour and a half. A lot of time passes with little to nothing happening. We know from the overture that the planet will crash into Earth, so instead of wondering whether the characters will survive, we are watching to see how they will react.
After seeing movies like Armageddon and Deep Impact, it is interesting to see a disaster movie where all the action is contained to one household. I did wish that they would watch the news once in a while, to see how the rest of the world is reacting to this huge planet growing bigger in the sky.
The climax of the movie is pretty intense, but once again it would have been more effective if I wasn't getting so bored waiting for it to happen. It could have been great, but I can't recommend it. It's certainly nice to look at, though.