There comes a time every once in a while you choose to abandon intuition about the quality of a movie before viewing it. Sometimes this pays off; the act of going into a movie with low expectations can sometimes manifest a higher appreciation for a film. Even those films that start off mediocre and you grow confident that they will at their worst just end super cheesy, occasionally convey some redeeming quality by the time the credits roll. Well readers, Warner Bros. Pictures Geostorm, the 2017 American disaster film brought to us by Dean Devlin, is not one of those movies.
If anyone got cheated out of the Razzie awards last year, it was Director and Producer Dean Devlin (Independence Day, Godzilla, Independence Day: Resurgence). This guy comes off as a Michael Bay Sith Acolyte; however, that might be giving him too much credit. While I will give him the semi-benefit of the doubt since this is his Directorial debut, Geostorm was so cringe-worthingly terrible that it’s hard to justify any of it. That’s right readers, I’m bringing out the big guns for this disaster (of a) film.TABLE SETTING/FIRST ACT
Gerard Butler (RocknRolla, White House Down, Gamer) plays Jake Lawson: a flag-waving, “cowboy-eyed,” fall from grace protagonist. Jake is known as the creator of an environmental protection net, known as “Dutch Boy”. Dutch Boy is essentially a network of climate-controlling satellites designed by an international coalition of engineers and scientists to keep “Extreme Weather” (a cowardice way of saying climate change or global warming) at bay during the chaos of the mid-21st century.
After a U.S. environmental committee hearing (all to reminiscent of that scene from Iron Man 2), Jake’s power is stripped from him and is handed down to his weaselly and resentful little brother Max, (Jim Sturgess), a lackey in the Justice Department. The plot quickly hammers in the fact that there is some definite bad blood between the estranged brothers. After an eye-rolling “3 years later” flash-forward, we find Max more-or-less demanding his scorned big brother Jake to return to Dutch Boy after a rouge “climate attack” on Afghanistan (hold on, let me attempt to explain this nonsense).
Max finds Jake in the most American (and/or redneck) place on earth: Cape Canaveral, Florida. In a trailer. Working on muscle cars in his spare time. And drinking Coors Light in the middle of the day. Oh, did I mention he’s got partial-custody of his thirteen-year-old daughter he barely speaks to? Yeah. It’s bad, but boy I tell you what, that Gerard Butler guy is as American as it comes (wait, isn’t he Scottish?). All too easily, Max is talked into returning to Dutch Boy (okay, here’s the explanation) after the death of an Indian engineer named Makmoud Habib, (uh, stereotype much?) and also in response to the events that took place in Afghanistan (played out like a deleted scene from The Day After Tomorrow). Within moments, Jake is up on the International Space Station with a group of clowns investigating what happened.DIRECTION (Spoilers), DISSECTION, VERDICT
After a bunch of contrived nonsense that I don’t care to explain, Jake discovers [SPOILER] that Dutch Boy is being sabotaged through the “highest level of government” for the nefarious purpose of global domination. Meanwhile, Max is hanging out on earth, hooking up with a kick-ass blonde in the state department nicknamed “Super Secret Agent Barbie.” Through a chain of events, Max slowly and sluggishly comes to the same conclusion as Jake on Dutch Boy. Max gets help by talking to Cheng Long, Head of Dutch Boy’s Hong Kong department, and also gains intel from a character named Dana (the “comedic,” young hacker girl), who works in what she coins “Millennial Village” (yikes). All the while, little brother/big brother are having Earth-to-Space Skype sessions talking about their feelings and “terrible” childhood (double-yikes).
A little after half-way throughthe film, Geostorm really decides to go off the rails and transition from cheese to overt hackiness. We discover that [SPOILER] thousands of the climate-controlling satellites have been hacked, and that they will begin to cause catastrophic storms across the globe (that will thus merge together to create a “Geostorm”). These repeated displays of “catastrophic storms” are the cheapest gimmicks of the movie. Examples include: a rouge-wave in the desert of Dubai, a heat wave in Moscow, Hong Kong fire-tornados (pretty sure they did that in Into the Storm), and another The Day After Tomorrow-style freeze wave in Rio de Jeneiro. The convoluted plot manages to get even more contrived, and actually starts to rob the movie of what it’s strength is supposed to be: harrowing global disaster and unique and mind-boggling visual effects.
Then again, what disaster-style special effects this movie does choose to utilize, seems like watered-down special effects and over-used concepts. It’s almost like they were concocted by an ignorant fifth-grader who doesn’t have the answers to a math test, so they choose to steal answers from other students instead (i.e. other films). Aside from the (many) films already mentioned, visual elements are blatantly stolen from such disaster films as Armageddon, Gravity, and Twister. Other uninspiring visuals include buildings knocking each other down like dominoes (San Andreas) and a laser beam wrecking havoc on a capitol city (wait, maybe Devlin didn’t steal that one, or did he?).Geostorm ends how it begins, with Jake’s daughter, Hannah (the only redeeming character in the film) talking about how humanity impacts the world with climate change (erm I mean “Extreme Weather”). Not to mention this poor girl, who is only talked about (not to), is consistently abandoned throughout the film. Her uncle is a stranger to her, her mom didn’t even know that her daughter’s father was in space, and there’s a moment earlier in the film where Jake looks at her and says, “What do you want from me!?” I DON’T KNOW JAKE, maybe adult supervision? I mean c’mon, the thirteen-year-old was left abandoned and forced to take a Lyft to the airport at one point. I was inept at thirteen, let alone the terrifying idea of getting into a cab by myself to figure my way around an airport. Even at the end of the movie, when everything seems “better,” her dad and uncle walk away on her. This girl needs better role-models.
When the hacked satellite is identified and it’s inquired by the team to explain what type it is by Jake, Dutch Boy engineer Duncan responds smugly with a thick British accent, “That’s my favorite actually, I call it a RocknRolla,” and practically leans in on the camera and just stares at Butler’s character for entirely too long.
Another less-than mildly interesting Easter egg: when Duncan Taylor scoffs at Jake for being “another American,” Jake responds by saying, “Actually, my brother and I were born in the UK” (Butler was born in Scotland, Sturgess in London).
The characters in this film were so stereotyped: Cheng Long especially (who we see as a Chinese computer wiz who drove a Smart car like a Fast & Furious character through Hong Kong).
The names imprinted on the Dutch Boy crewsuits were horrendous: U. Fassbinder (German Filmmaker?), J. Lawson (Jennifer Lawrence or stand-up comic Jay Larson in a Stoneham accent?), and the ones that take the cake are in the beginning of the film: M. Habib, Indian Engineer, and M. Troll, Russian Engineer (as shown above).
2nd-to-worst line of the film: “Suits…suits…” – Cheng Long
Absolute worst line of the film: “Do you believe in the Hail Mary?” – Jake Lawson
This one was brutal guys. I clearly had too much fun shredding this movie to pieces. Speaking of Michael Bay in the opener, I would have rather preferred a Michael Bay movie to this one. Sorry Dean Devlin, I wasn’t easy on you or your debut by any means. You still somehow managed to nearly double your money on this film in box office, not to mention you made some residual pennies off my Redbox rental. Still, it is a bummer; all I asked for was a fun, entertaining disaster movie, but got this turd instead. And on that note, I grant Geostorm three Michael Bay’s out of ten.