Technology plays another instrument of our undoing, in the newest science fiction disaster flick ‘Geostorm’. After an unprecedented series of natural disasters threatened the planet, the world’s leaders came together to create an intricate network of satellites to control the global climate and keep everyone safe. But now, something has gone wrong—the system built to protect the Earth is attacking it, and it’s a race against the clock to uncover the real threat before a worldwide geostorm wipes out everything…and everyone along with it. Gerard Butler stars as Jake, a scientist who, along with his brother, Max, played by Jim Sturgess, is tasked with solving the satellite program’s malfunction. Abbie Cornish stars as Secret Service agent Sarah Wilson; Alexandra Lara as Ute Fassbinder, the ISS astronaut who runs the space station; Daniel Wu as Cheng, the Hong Kong-based supervisor for the Dutch Boy Program; with Andy Garcia as U.S. President Andrew Palma; and Ed Harris as Secretary of State Leonard Dekkom. ‘Geostorm’ is written and directed by Dean Devlin, and is rated PG-13 for destruction, action, and violence.
‘Geostorm’ is the latest in the series of compelling cases that showcase just how stupid human beings in movies truly are. For a film that centers around ideas for the future that speak out to some of the problems with Global Warming that we face in our own real world, this film lacks any kind of intelligence or concrete fact in backing up its truly fantasy-like concoctions of thinking when it involves solutions. I get that this is a movie, but even in a film it isn’t asking too much to think inside of the realm of logical solutions, and because of that I could never remotely take this movie seriously in any capacity. ‘Geostorm’ feels like a Sy-Fy Channel movie of the week, complete with awful C.G effects and equally bad acting to compete for the honors of being so bad that it’s good. This one isn’t good in any stretch of the imagination, and leaves behind it 104 minutes that is every bit as convoluted in expositional explanation as it is dull to sleepy levels of visual presentation.
The film’s material spark comes from a speech that president Kennedy gave in 1961, in which he predicted that we are on the cusp of evolution with controlling the weather. It’s clear that over fifty years later that JFK’s prediction still feels incredibly far-fetched, made even more obvious by this film’s lack of details that support how any of this is even possible, let alone how it is being monitored. Lets pretend for a moment that we can suspend enough disbelief to imagine that computers can run our weather. Why leave it in the hands of something so vulnerable? Considering bank accounts and personal information get hacked all the time at the highest respectable security, why should we think that the weather couldn’t be broken into as well? On top of this, the film supplants the idea that one man’s fingers have the scanning to shut it all down. What if the president goes into a coma? What if he dies? What if a terrorist kidnaps him and removes his hand? These are just some of the examples of stupidity that riddle this film to the core, calling itself out on its own bullshit for its great lack of trying.
There’s certainly very little redeemable qualities about the cast, considering the fight for screen time feels sacrificial on more than just a few of the supporting characters. Butler, Cornish, and Sturgess are definitely the prime focus here, but the first act vaguely skims over their character arc’s and leaves them moving without a pulse of intrigue that you feel for their bland personalities. With other disaster films, it was important enough to cast these big name actors that can carry even the flimsiest of time devoted to their characters, but the trio listed above never feel like the most entertaining of people who we want to spend nearly two hours with. I blame a lot of this on what feels like these actors playing up to a character outline and never making these examples their own. Butler’s Jake is a hard-ass. Big stretch there. Sturgess Max is the brother in the suit who is always at odds with his own brotherly kin. This relationship is played at more than a few resemblances to that of Ben Affleck and Bruce Willis in ‘Armageddon’, and believe me when I say that the two films similarities don’t stop there. As for Cornish, she’s definitely the most fun to watch because she’s a female secret service agent who feels progressive in her role, but what’s even more remarkable is how little I took away from her background. The character is left essentially cryptic beyond her involvement with Max and her being the president’s protection. THAT’S IT. There was a chance to really bring the female audience into the fold with this one, but the grading of the overall entirety of Cornish as well as every other character leaves this film with limited personality on getting it through the fold of some truly perplexing directions of tone.
On that subject, you would expect ‘Geostorm’ to be entirely a disaster film with little or no additional tonal shift to give it merit, but you would be wrong. At its heart, this is mostly a political thriller, in that our main characters are trying to reveal who is responsible for clouding the clear path to the White House for the president just days before the election. What I liked about this additional trek is that it at least tries to make itself something more than just the popcorn disaster flicks that are disposable less than five minutes after you leave the theater. Where it fails in my opinion is in forgetting about its previous designation about midway through the film, leaving us with a noticeable lack of visual spectrum one hour in that had me fighting back sleep. Its stance is so political at times that it feels like the central premise is sidelined as a subplot, crippling for many what will pack the butts in the seats and leave them thirsty for the big budget devastation that they were promised in the unsubtle trailers.
When it does happen, the devastation is very impactful in the film, even if its visual presentation leaves much more to be desired. If you’re going to see this movie, see it in a theater with a great sound system, as the chorus of impact certainly never shielded the weight of every crushing The C.G effects unfortunately didn’t impress me as much as the sound mixing because so much about it feels obvious in its color rendering that made backdrops standout as foreign for the shot. A fine example of this is during a White House briefing that shows the house with an obvious green screen shadowing around it. This can sometimes give off the feeling that the sky looks fake around it, but it’s actually the residence that lacks authenticity and gives way to the eyesore of every scene. The crashing of buildings is serious enough to make Michael Bay or Jerry Bruckheimer cream themselves, but at this point in 2017, these kind of effects don’t radiate in the same vein that they did twenty years prior. We’ve pulled back the curtain on our expectations for the action epics of current day, so now the magicians behind the lens must find another trick to give these presentations something more than a taste of outdated spoil.
THE VERDICT – ‘Geostorm’ puts the disaster back in disaster movie. With a lackluster visual capacity, as well as bigger plot holes than the one in the ozone, Devlin’s supposed action spectacular fumbles away the chance for thrills in favor of a political mystery that serves as the final nail in the coffin for the patience that the film quickly eats away at. While weather is usually an uncertainty, one thing is for sure about this witless made-for-TV spectacle; when it rains, it pours.