Disaster films are a dime a dozen in Hollywood. All of them hold the power to be haunting portrayals of life gone wrong in the most epic way, but most of them just fall square on their face. Disaster films took off in the 1970s, with films like “The Poseidon Adventure,” “The Towering Inferno” and “Earthquake” taking the world by storm. The genre re-emerged in the late ’90s/early ’00s with films like “Dante’s Inferno,” “The Day After Tomorrow” and the remake “Poseidon” also took in good money at the box office. Since then, disaster films haven’t reached close to the amount of success that they did before. I can attribute them to one main thing surrounding them: they’re stupid. Now, that isn’t a direct read on the sub-genre of action films, because quite a few good films are stupid. Yet, these films make no effort in finding charm in their stupidity, nor do they make any filmmaking efforts to at least make stupidity look good. When it came to “Geostorm,” it had better odds than most. Funded by Skydance, the film had good producers, as well as a good cast, including Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Eugenio Derbez, Adepero Oduye, Andy Garcia and Ed Harris, as well as a haunting first trailer. It also had its setbacks too, with an inexperienced director behind the camera, numerous studio delays and Gerard Butler in the lead role, “Geostorm” had its chance to be different.
Is “Geostorm” good? No. Is “Geostorm” dumb fun? Also no.
In the near future, climate change threw the entirety of Earth’s climate out of whack. Desperate for a solution, the U.S. and Chinese governments work together on a satellite system to control the world’s weather and climate, designed by engineer Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler). Jake’s volatile behavior gets him fired from the program by the hands of his younger brother, Max (Jim Sturgess), the head of the program surrounding the satellite. Three years later, the satellite system begins to exhibit some strange malfunctions, the U.S. government gets Max to re-connect with Jake to send him back to the space station to investigate the malfunctions. Suspicious, Max begins to investigate with his girlfriend, secret service agent Sarah (Abbie Cornish) and tech specialist Dana (Zazie Beetz), and they discover that the massive weather events being triggered all over the world are being caused deliberately. Both teams must work together to get to the bottom of the conspiracy and save the world from total destruction.
I’ll give it to “Geostorm” for at least trying to put forth some sort of message on climate change during its opening moments, but the film falls apart soon thereafter, leaving audiences with a ham-fisted, stupid, boring thriller that doesn’t pack any thrills to really speak of. The fact that “Geostorm” can’t even manage to be dumb fun might just be its biggest sin. The premise alone is silly and hokey, but had the film taken it in a direction that really left the film to just showcase the major CGI destruction front-and-center, then it could’ve been a good IMAX 3D night out, but unfortunately, the film is left mostly in the hands of its actors, however talented they may be, delivering some of the worst-written lines in any film I’ve seen this year so far. For a film this massive in scale, it’s amazing how dull it ends up being.
I mentioned the talented cast before, but you wouldn’t think much of their talent here, if only for the screenplay at hand here. Butler isn’t the most well-liked actor in Hollywood by critics, but he has shown some true talent before in films like “300,” “RocknRolla” and “Coriolanus.” I truly believe Butler is an actor as good as the script he’s reading from, and that I also think he has bad judgment when it comes to picking scripts, which should give you all indications about his performance level here. Still, it’s the more prestigious actors like Sturgess, Oduye, Garcia and Harris that really make the film so distressing to watch. There’s a sort of hesitation to each of their performances that leave us wondering just how often they must’ve turned to the director and asked “Do I really have to say this shit?”
Director Dean Devlin’s first foray into feature film territory is quite a large step for a first time filmmaker. He’s been a writer and producer in the industry for some time now, co-writing “Independence Day” and 1998’s “Godzilla,” but it’s clear that direction is not his forte. Every shot of the film can be divided into one of two categories: 1. Bland as whatever new Taylor Swift song that I’ve already lost track of, or 2. Awkward as myself at a party. Never once did I look at anything in this film and think, “Wow, that was really well done” or “I definitely have never seen that before.” It doesn’t surprise me in the absolute slightest that Devlin has worked extensively with Roland Emmerich, if only because if someone had told me that Emmerich had directed “Geostorm,” I wouldn’t have doubted it for a hot second.
I will give “Geostorm” one thing. In an age where the 3D craze is officially dying out, I can at least say that when “Geostorm” goes big, its 3D experience was worth donning the glasses over in full IMAX 3D. The CGI in the film might be sloppy and cheesy looking, but it does provide for an immersive experience for the 36 seconds that you actually get to see something cool happen. Even in the dialogue scenes, it does create a cool sense of space in some of the more interesting locations such as the space station. That being said, it would be required that you actually pay to see the film for you to experience its 3D, and I just can’t let anyone do that in clear conscience.
“Geostorm” is a bland, dumb-as-hell and completely idiotic film that can’t even manage to be mindless fun in its CGI-drenched mayhem. It’s a series of poor character decisions, made with eye-rollingly bad dialogue and somehow, by the grace of stupid movie god, somehow works out for them. Wash, rinse, repeat for 109 minutes until the film either ends, or your muscles atrophy. It’s almost a shame given its cast and potential to be a self-aware ham-fest of epic proportions, but without anything provided to me to actually care about in “Geostorm,” it’s even hard to do that. Whichever producer’s 7-year old daughter asked “What if it snowed in Brazil and it got hot in Russia?” should feel pretty proud to have gotten a $120 million venture out of it, but everyone else should probably plug their ears and try to forget that “Geostorm” ever happened. I only saw it earlier this morning and I’m fairly certain I already have.
Directed by: Dean Devlin
Starring: Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Alexandra Maria Lara, Daniel Wu, Eugenio Derbez, Adepero Oduye, Zazie Beetz, with Ed Harris, and Andy Garcia.
Runtime: 109 minutes
Rating: PG-13 for destruction, action and violence.
Also available in Dolby Cinema, RealD 3D and IMAX 3D.
Warner Bros. Pictures and Skydance present, a Skydance production, an Electric Entertainment production, a film by Dean Devlin, “Geostorm”