Sunday 1 March 2020

Movie Review: Geostorm (2017)

A science fiction disaster thriller, Geostorm is laughably inept.

A few years into the future the world unites to create a satellite-based system, nicknamed Dutch Boy, to combat climate change. American Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler) leads the global effort to build the system from the expanded International Space Station, but is then summarily fired for frequent insubordination and replaced by his more politically savvy brother Max (Jim Sturgess).

Three years later Dutch Boy starts to malfunction, causing multiple weather catastrophes and the threat of a globe-threatening "geostorm". President Palma (Andy Garcia) and Secretary of State Dekkon (Ed Harris) turn to Max for answers, and he convinces Jake to go back to the ISS and investigate. Jake and commander Ute Fassbinder (Alexandra Maria Lara) uncover evidence of an elaborate sabotage, while back on earth Max teams up with his lover, Secret Service Agent Sarah Wilson (Abbie Cornish), to identify the conspirators.

While the placement of climate change at the center of a large-scale disaster film is a laudable exercise in awareness-raising, it is worrisome that the solution conjured up by director and co-writer Dean Devlin seems to have nothing to do with curtailing carbon emissions and instead imagines an ability to zap the natural consequences.

Everything else about Geostorm suitably crashes to earth in a mess of bad writing and worse special effects. Both the science and the fiction are ridiculous, as are the overblown and overwhelmingly bad disaster visuals. The script consists of thrice recycled components, the animosity between brothers one of many cringe-worthy elements as Gerard Butler and Jim Sturgess struggle to produce any emotional resonance.

As for the conspiracy, it consists of a barely coherent power grab and weaponization of science by the usual disgruntled suits, although here the scale of global death and destruction unleashed in the name of seizing control of geopolitical destiny is well beyond comprehension and weighed down by juvenile CGI run amok.

Meanwhile back at the ISS the really old "self destruct" cliche is dusted off and trotted out, complete with a countdown clock and robotic warning voice. As massive explosions and fires devour everything surrounding Jake and Ute, somehow enough technology still functions to give them a chance to input "kill codes" to stop the carnage. The system reboot also still works and takes a matter a seconds, much faster than the typical cell phone, proof positive that technology will come a long way even as some movies eject intellect into a vacuum.

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