Updated: Feb 5, 2020
It is certainly an interesting time for a film to be released wherein a series of extreme weather events causes nations around the world to work together and create a system of satellites that control the weather on Earth. Granted, Geostorm is not actually political in any way; its plot is just a clothesline on which to hang scenes of worldwide destruction after the satellites malfunction causing even worse disasters than before. I feel very confident in saying that people on both sides of the aisle can agree that this movie is an absurd timewaster that all Americans would be better off staying far away from.
Geostorm is a disaster movie, meaning that any story is there just to set-up the catastrophic event which the characters then spend the rest of the film trying to escape from. The story is this: Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler, of 300 fame) is a scientist who was largely responsible for the creation of the weather controlling-satellites. He is arrogant, resistant to authority and an all-around pain in the ass. His brother, Max (Jim Sturgess), works in the White House and tries to use his position to protect his brother from himself. Jake pisses off one person too many and Max is forced to fire him. Three years later, the satellites begin to malfunction and Max’s boss, Secretary of State Dekkom (Ed Harris, now in one of the worst movies of the year after featuring in one of the best, mother!, just last month), forces him to bring back Jake and send him into space to fix the problem. Meanwhile, Max and his Secret Service Agent girlfriend, Sarah (Abbie Cornish), deal with a potential conspiracy in the government. Lots of poor dialogue and urgent running ensues.
My best guess is that Butler, Sturgess, Cornish, Harris and Andy Garcia (who plays the President of the United States) signed on because they thought the movie would be fun. But it is not fun, not even in an entertaining trash kind of way. I suppose that the setup, ridiculous as it is, could have been fun, but the story gets bogged down with the unnecessary conspiracy plot and way too many speeches about family and doing what is right. There is surprisingly little destruction considering that the whole planet is at risk. So if you are planning on seeing it because you want to see the world get destroyed, you are in for some disappointment.
Geostorm (102 minutes minus the end credits) is Warner Bros.’ attempt to create a big disaster movie hit in the vein of 2004’s The Day After Tomorrow. That film grossed over $540 million worldwide and was generally well-received by audiences. Geostorm, however, looked like a mess and lives down to that prediction. At times it feels like it might be tilting toward camp but, generally speaking, it plays it pretty seriously. It is far too difficult to take any of this nonsense at that level, yet that is what we are asked to do.
This is the theatrical directorial debut for Dean Devlin after a successful career as a producer and screenwriter for films like Independence Day (1996) (he also produced and co-wrote Geostorm). Tonally, I think he was aiming for something like Independence Day, which had fun with its premise. Geostorm is too absurd for any of it to be played straight. If a parody of this film is ever made, they could just use the same screenplay.
The timing of Geostorm’s release is a little unfortunate for the studio. It would have been a bad movie at any time, but after seeing what has happened in Florida, Houston and Puerto Rico, it would be hard to accept even a good movie on this subject matter as escapism. But this is not a good movie. So, whatever the reason that people seem to be avoiding it, it is a good decision.
1 out of 5
Gerard Butler as Jake Lawson
Jim Sturgess as Max Lawson
Abbie Cornish as Sarah Wilson
Andy Garcia as President Andrew Palma
Ed Harris as Leonard Dekkom
Alexandra Maria Lara as Ute Fassbinder
Eugenio Derbez as Al Hernandez
Zazie Beetz as Dana
Directed by Dean Devlin
Written by Dean Devlin and Paul Guyot