Running Time: 109 minutes
Written by: Dean Devlin & Paul Guyot
Directed by: Dean Devlin
Featuring: Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Alexandra Maria Lara, Richard Schiff, Robert Sheehan, Daniel Wu, Eugenio Derbez, Ed Harris, and Andy García
Cheng: “There’s potential for catastrophic weather events on a global scale. A geostorm.”
There is no doubt in my mind that this has to be one of the worst movies to be released into cinemas this year. What I am not sure about is how this movie turned out this way, sure it had a troubled production, the director and producer were replaced when reshoots had to be done to attempt to make “Geostorm” (2017) at least watchable – but judging from the finished product no one really knew what to do with it – it is a mess of film with a muddled plot, narrative and no real logical elements that make this compelling viewing at all. The blame can be put at the studio who trusting a US$100 million plus budget to a debut director who had produced some profitable movies but had no right in being put in charge of this mess.
“Geostorm” had a kind of competent idea behind it, solving the issues of global warming through technology, with a bunch of countries coming together to build the solution – if only we lived in that world now. The problem is when the story turned to a way to put people as well as the world into peril so that someone could emerge to save the day – a typical Hollywood story, it has been done many times – the most recent movie that did this was “2012” (2009) the disaster porn film that seemed to end the endless scenes of cities being destroyed wholesale – it was a monster of a movie with a large cast that get picked off until a family is left at the end to look forward to a brighter future together. Unfortunately Devlin has taken a movie that could have been interesting miscast the hell out of it, supplied endless tropes that do not work, supplied endless plot holes, had ridiculous twists that make no sense and then supplied special effects that seem not only sub par but offer nothing new in terms of spectacle at all.
“Geostorm” is set in 2019, a coalition of 18 nations, spearheaded by the US and China, band together and commission “Dutch Boy”, a system of satellites designed to control climate on a global scale, following numerous extreme natural disasters that have left millions dead.
Three years later, a United Nations field team stationed in Afghanistan comes across a village that has been frozen, along with its inhabitants. U.S. President Andrew Palma calls an emergency meeting of his Cabinet, where the blame is placed on a malfunction in Afghanistan’s weather satellite. Back up on the ICSS, a satellite engineer suspecting foul play secretly and preemptively copies the log data from the Afghanistan satellite and stores it in a locker, but dies when he is suddenly ejected into space in an apparent accident. The designer of ‘Dutch Boy’ is sent to the satellite is sort of what is going on, while his brother who works in the White House attempts to find out what is going on in terms of a conspiracy he has uncovered.
Frankly from the opening scenes of real life disastrous weather patterns to the CGI creations, the writing is on the wall, with a voice over narration that explains everything that is going on to dialogue like “Sorry I’m late, I literally just flew in from space”, delivered in the most stilted way by Gerard Butlers character Max. From there it only gets worse by taking the two leads, Butler and Jim Sturgess (playing brothers) and separating them with their only interaction being on some kind of video link, that is the worst conceived piece of technology I have ever seen. If that wasn’t bad enough there are way too many subplots that are all superfluous to the plot, and are only there to get people from point A to point B in the easiest way possible – the best example is the relationship between Sturgess and Abbie Cornish, that only exists to make it easier to get to the President without having to bend the narrative too far. Another example is at the climax of the movie in the space scenes a character who left the space station in a shuttle, which you are shown onscreen, literally turns up out of nowhere to save the day – I mean it is ridiculous to the extreme.
Another aspect of this movie is the casting that is a little odd to say the least. Firstly Gerard Butler is the hero of the piece but pretty much disappears at key moments and at times is restricted to yelling at a giant monitor and pushing buttons. Jim Sturgess seems all at sea as well, with no time to cement his relationship with his brother or his fiancee, he seems to be offering at least two different performances – which hinders the tone of the movie. Abbie Cornish plays a Secret Service agent who is supposed to be the partner of Sturgess, but this comes off as one note, as well as completely mishandled. Cornish who has been in some very good films (and who is possibly the most talented person in this film) seems to have signed on to a different movie, one where she has some agency and is not being ordered around by Sturgess, not really being asked just told to do things that serve the plot. The rest of the cast led by Ed Harris, also has Andy Garcia, Richard Schiff and Mare Winningham who show up for a few ridiculous scenes then all but disappear leaving the heavy lifting to some dodgy effects. To be able to get so many great film actors together in supporting roles there must have been a better script floating around, one where they were playing three dimensional characters, but the movie has ended up with really stilted meaningless performances which is a missed opportunity. The movie attempts to do what many Roland Emmerich movies do, that is to show the carnage from a street level, with the audience identifying with ‘normal’ people as they face the disasters in separate countries. But Emmerich does this through a slow build where we meet people to give them background then the disaster happens. Here Devlin has just headed straight to the action sequences with people we don’t know, but are supposed to feel empathy for – it does not work.
The final aspect that needs to be addressed is the ham fisted way global warming and extreme weather events are handled, as well as what a missed opportunity this was in terms of framing what could have been a much better movie. “Geostorm” instead of making the story about the extreme weather conditions, solves this problem in the first ten minutes with a voice over. This is a missed opportunity to create something special, an actual commentary on global warming in what should have been a major tent pole movie. Instead they have produced a movie about a giant gun, then as the movie progresses we see the technology causing damage through different kinds of weather. By the time the end of the movie arrives even the director has reduced the ‘weather machine’ to a laser ripping through Moscow destroying and killing people and property – hang on I thought this was about killer weather not a giant laser.
There is so much else that could be written about “Geostorm” and there normally is about really bad movies that are released in cinemas where they are asking people to pay quite a lot to see them. I would not recommend this movie at all – give it a miss and watch any other disaster movie; you will have a much better time and be more rewarded.
“Geostorm” is currently in out on DVD & Blu-ray.