TL;DR – Its, well it’s, ok, it’s not great, it’s not awful, it’s just ok.
Score – 3 out of 5 stars
So there is a satellite system that controls all of the world’s extreme weather, with a flip of a switch you can take out that cyclone barrelling towards the Australian coast, that heat wave over Paris gone, that mark-5 tornado, what mark-5 tornado. It all sounds great, but if you can see the flaw with this plan, well you can see where the film is heading. Overall, it has been a while since I have seen a big scale disaster film, maybe 2012 was the last one, so it was at least interesting to visit this genre. However, just be prepared that this is science-fiction, not science-fact film, I’m pretty sure there are some laws of thermodynamics that get thrown to the wolves to make this movie happen, nor do we have enough material to build a partial Dyson sphere. So overall I found Geostorm to be well fine, it had some things I liked and some others that I didn’t, and mostly they cancelled each other out. So today we will look at both sides of Geostorm, the good, the bad, and the surprisingly Scottish.
So to set the scene, in 2019 global warming sent the plant into a spiral of extreme weather events which killed millions. Looking death in the face, the world on the brink of destruction put aside years of amenity to create the ‘Dutch Boy’, a series of satellites around the world, designed to stop the extreme weather events. The main engineer of the project was Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler) a man who is equal parts brilliant as he was obstinate, and after many years of work his brother Max (Jim Sturgess) who is employed by the White House was forced to fire him after a bad Senate hearing. Well three years later, and a couple of weeks before Dutch Boy is meant to be officially handed over to an international oversight team, a village in the heart of Afghanistan is discovered to be completely frozen. The Dutch Boy system had never failed before, and given the potential fallout from the lack of trust, or even a cascade of failures, it was a serious issue. So the Secretary of State Dekkom (Ed Harris) recommended to President Palma (Andy García) that there is only one person for the job, yep fired former main engineer Jake, so up he goes, but the clock is ticking.
Ok so there was a lot about the film I really liked, and the first thing was its optimism. In this film’s timeline, the world eventually got its act together and working as a group to stop the extinction of our species. You see that optimism throughout the film, even though it is a disaster film, and in this day and age, it’s just refreshing. The special effects are all implemented quite well, with some good use of water physics, and detail in the destruction. I liked a lot of the set design, both the physical and digital constructions, it straddled that line between science fiction and what could be in the not too distant future much like the Martin (see review).
With the cast, I think on the whole they all gave good performances in their respective roles. It was good to see Andy García in a science fiction film for more than 20 seconds, and he and Ed Harris had a go at stealing each other’s scenes. I wasn’t sure about Agent Wilson (Abbie Cornish) at the start, but about halfway through the film she has this moment where she shifts gears, and I think she became my favourite actor in the movie. As well as this, I thought Talitha Bateman who plays Jake’s daughter Hannah did a great job. One of the oddities in the film is Gerard Butler is talking in his normal Scottish accent, yet his parents are implied to be Americans and his brother also speaks in an American accent. I mean they sort of handwave it away with a comment, which means the movies is a step above Gods of Egypt (see review). But it is still a bit odd.
However, there is one character that I didn’t like and that was the other Lawson brother Max. Now to be completely fair to Jim Sturgess, I do not know if the problem was in his performance, or if it was how he was directed to act, or if indeed he was doing the best with the script he had. Whatever the case, I found nearly every scene with him in it too frustrating to watch. At least part of this is because the film goes out of its way to pad its runtime with unnecessary plot elements, most notably with artificial conflicts. The movie has to go to significant lengths to set it up that the two brothers are fighting, but it never felt anything but forced. It only felt like it was there to place roadblocks on discovering the bad guys when there already was an interesting investigation both on Earth and on the ISS4 that could have facilitated this much better. As well as this, a lot of things in the movie happen because the plot needs it to happen, and yes I know that is every film, but the good films don’t make it painfully obvious.
Now while the story did move along at a reasonable clip, one of the areas where it did fall a bit flat was with its foreshadowing, and because we are talking about the story there will be some [SPOILERS] in this paragraph. For example, they lingered on Dussette (Amr Waked) the French crew member so long that he went from being just suspicious to being ‘yep you are the character that exists to make us think you are the bad guy, when in fact it is all a ruse’ and sure enough. Add to this there are some really awkward conversations throughout the film, filled with clichés, and some unbelievable coincidences, and overall indeed the story is the weakest part of the film.
In the end, do we recommend Geostorm? Well yes and no. It is a solid film, well situated within the disaster movie genre, it is generally well acted, and if you want destruction there it is. However, if you are not a fan of the disaster film genre, or a fan of a Gerard Butler then maybe no. Sure overall the film is fine, but there is a lot of the brother you have to sit through to get to the interesting parts. Look if nothing else see it for it is a moment of sheer optimism, the belief that politicians are asses, and that by working together we will have a better future. So what are you favourite disaster films? Let me know in the comments below.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Geostorm
Directed by – Dean Devlin
Written by – Dean Devlin & Paul Guyot
Music by – Lorne Balfe
Cinematography by – Roberto Schaefer
Edited by – Ron Rosen, Chris Lebenzon & John Refoua
Starring – Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Talitha Bateman, Ed Harris, Andy García, Alexandra Maria Lara, Robert Sheehan, Daniel Wu, Eugenio Derbez, Zazie Beetz, Adepero Oduye, Amr Waked & Richard Schiff
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; Germany: na; New Zealand: M; United Kingdom: 12A; United States: PG-13