I knew what was coming, but I went along anyway. Geostorm is a sci-fi disaster film co-written, co-produced and directed by Dean Devlin (… Independence Day: Resurgence). With an eye-watering budget of $US110m, it may struggle to recoup its costs. To put it plainly, it’s just not very good. The cast is certainly competent, but the plot is overly familiar and the attempts at comic interjection are naff (not sure what’s happening in Hollywood of late, but in my opinion it seems the “lols” a failing to hit on a disturbingly regular basis). To be absolutely clear from the outset, I didn’t hate this film; it just could have and should have been so much better.
The year is 2019 and the weather has started playing up something fierce across the globe. Through desperation and sheer human will, 18 nations band together and create “Dutch Boy”, a system of satellites that control the Earth’s climate. The brain behind this massive undertaking is Dutch Boy’s architect, Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler). Due to his issues with taking orders, Jake is swiftly and gracelessly dumped from his duties. His replacement: his estranged brother Max (Jim Sturgess, Cloud Atlas). And after all he’s done for humanity!
Three years later, a UN field team stationed in Afghanistan happen upon a village – in the middle of the desert – that is frozen solid. This “uh oh” moment sees US President Andrew Palma (Andy Garcia, Ocean’s Eleven) call an emergency Cabinet meeting, where it is discussed and discovered that an apparent malfunction within the satellite is to blame. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and so little brother Max – who is a highly ranked “suit” – convinces the President to send his wayward older brother back up there to sort it all out.
From here there’s the whole “Jake’s drinking beer at 11am in his trailer, his daughter – who only spends 2 weekends a month with him – is disappointed in him, and he’s sooking with his brother; will he or won’t he go?” shtick, that plays out in expected tones. Yeah, Jake suits up and heads back into space.
The main premise of the film – the wicked weather and the interesting, but ultimately fallible resolution – makes for an excellent skeleton by which to build an engaging and topical tale upon. In fact, given the current political chatterings about the globe, the uniting of humanity to combat this worldwide problem could have hit some thought-provoking notes at a key time – yes, even in dumb-fun popcorn packaging. Sadly, Geostorm takes its premise and squanders it by electing to instead tread water in familiar and “safe” territory.
The acting chops are present for a deeper, more provocative narrative; in addition to those mentioned, Geostorm stars Abbie Cornish (Sucker Punch), Ed Harris (WestWorld) and Alexandra Maria Lara (Control), to name but a few. Sadly, at every turn the film opts for benign, well-worn plotlines, characters and relationships, and fumbles its exploitation and capitalisation upon our current real-world political aggravations.
Oh, and for a big-budget picture – and one delivered in 2017 – the CGI is downright awful. Everyone wants to see a tidal wave smash into the Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world, based in Dubai); that kind of awestruck, sensationalistic bedlam is why we suspend our disbelief for such films. Sadly, however, it looks like scenes like this were made in the same era as Jar Jar Binks. This is fundamentally worrisome, and a bad return on investment in this most key of departments.
Ultimately, the class of the actors keep this film from exploding into a disaster of its own – despite their flat, predictable arcs and dialogue. I would recommend (re)watching Armageddon until this one is available to stream. Or, you know, watch a good movie instead.
THE REEL SCORE: 4/10