VOD film review: Geostorm
James R | On 24, Mar 2018
Director: Dean Devlin
Cast: Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish
“Everyone was warned. but no one listened.” So says Hannah Lawson (Talitha Eliana Bateman), the daughter of Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler), warning of the catastrophe that is to come in Geostorm. It’s a shame that message isn’t put on the box. A dire disaster movie, even by disaster movie standards, this is far duller than it has any right to be.
The film, co-written by director Dean Devlin, has a rather nifty premise, which is that mankind has built a network of satellites around the Earth to stall climate change, neutralising typhoons and other extreme weather. It’s precisely the kind of daft, ill-thought-through nonsense that could actually happen in real life. It even has a plausibly terrible name: Dutch Boy. Dutch Boy, however, is created by Jake, a man whose rebellious streak ends up getting him kicked off the project, with control handed over to his brother, Max (Jim Sturgess).
Fast forward several years and the whole thing begins to malfunction. Who can save the day? Why, only the disgraced scientific genius with a grudge against his brother and a real problem with authority. It’s about as cheesy as a film can get without smearing Brie on the lens, and there’s something to be said for a certain degree of fromage – particularly when cultivated by the co-creator of Independence Day. But Geostorm never lives up to its camp promise, instead just winding up disappointingly mediocre.
One of the main problems are the visuals, which, for a disaster movie, is a big one. When your movie is called Geostorm, you only have one job to do, and Geostorm simply doesn’t do it. There are hints of the kind of destruction we hope for in the idea of a “firenado” (does what it says on the tin), but the production’s so bogged down by its script that Devlin doesn’t get the chance to bring the kind of awe, wit or scale required for a storm of truly “geo” proportion.
Attempting to serve up a twisting plot alongside the preferable menu of mayhem, the screenplay introduces a conspiracy, a sinister Secretary of State played by Ed Harris, and a conversation in which the two brothers communicate in a secret code by pretending to share an anecdote about fishing. Butler, who’s a good actor when given the chance, plays big and broad with the alcoholic antihero stereotype, leaving his relationship with Sturgess’ estranged brother far from convincing, let alone fun.
In the absence of a good narrative or compelling characters, a slice of unbridled armageddon would normally be perfectly enjoyable compensation, but Geostorm gets so distracted that it forgets the simple joy of watching the world burn – the kind of catastrophic, cheerful abandonment that made Roland Emmerich’s 2012 such a dumb blast. Too serious to be silly but too plodding to be serious, the result is a movie that could have been Gerard Butler Versus The Weather, but is sadly lacking on the weather part.