Review: Geostorm

Taking the ridiculous, Roland Emmerich style disaster movies and adding a giant net of satellites controlling the weather, a villain trying to use said satellites as a weapon a la Cobra Commander and Gerard Butler and it seemed like Geostorm should have been one of the most stupidly fun movies of the year.  Unfortunately though, it’s mostly a boring slog with only some tiny cracks revealing the lunacy beneath.

Set in the very near future (but in some bizarre alternate universe where pretty much every car is electric and NASA is insanely well funded), Gerard Butler’s Jake Lawson was in charge of leading the team to build the Dutchboy weather controlling satellite system that saved the world from collapsing into chaos due to climate change.  His insubordinate attitude however gets him fired by his own brother Max (Jim Sturgess) after a disastrous senate oversight comittee but, three years later, Dutchboy is malfunctioning and Jake is the only man who can head back up the International Space Station, which serves as the Dutchboy HQ, and find out what is going on.  Back on Earth, Max slowly uncovers a conspiracy that someone is deliberatly causing the malfunctions and enlists his Secret Service agent girlfriend Sarah (Abbie Cornish) to help uncover the truth.  The truly baffling thing about Geostorm is that it sidelines the thing we are all coming to see, which is the over the top disaster sequences.  There’s a decent sequence with Daniel Wu’s scientist Cheng in Hong Kong, where extreme heat causes gas mains to explode, but a huge chunk of the movie is Gerard Butler looking at logs and wandering around the ISS and making holographic phone calls to his brother and it’s all just boring busy work, especially since the villain behind everything is pretty much obvious from the get go.  The last third finally tries to deliver the insanity we’ve been waiting for the entire movie but it’s quantity over quality and none of the various disasters are particularly fresh or even good looking, despite the $120+ million budget.  It’s also completely unclear just what the hell the end goal is between stopping the satellites, preventing the ISS from blowing up, flushing the virus causing the malfunctions out of the system, etc, all while a countdown clock says TIME TO GEOSTORM like weather is some sort of bomb you can cut the blue wire on.  Geostorm really just needed to go fully all in on it’s inherent insanity, like have the main villain send commandos to the ISS to fight Gerard Butler or something, we came for disaster porn and ridiculous action, not family drama and ISS maintenance.

Despite the talent of the cast, no one seems to really give a shit about what is happening, with Ed Harris especially seeming like he’s just phoning it in.  Both Jim Sturgess and Gerard Butler are trying ridiculous things to hide their accents, with Sturgess doing some sort of weird “serious whisper” the entire time but the movie bafflingly has Jake bring up the fact that they were born in the UK, SO WHY ARE THEY NOT JUST USING THEIR OWN ACCENTS?  The movie is full of these dumb small details on top of the bigger issues and it all combines into just a stupid mess of a movie.  The only person the movie probably could have used more of is Andy Garcia as the President, who at one point says “Because I’m the Goddamn President of the United States!” and the movie definitely could have use much more of that style ridiculousness.

I wouldn’t say Geostorm was anticipated by any means but based on the trailers and the premise, I think most of us were hoping for something silly, over the top and fun but the movie fails to deliver on pretty much every level.  Say what you will about recent Roland Emmerich movies like The Day After Tomorrow and 2012 but at least when the disasters start, they are huge and impressive.  There’s nothing you haven’t seen before in Geostorm that was done better in other, better disaster movies, watch one of those instead.

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