Mark Reviews Movies

Geostorm

GEOSTORM

1 Star (out of 4)

Director: Dean Devlin

Cast: Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Alexandra Maria Lara, Zazie Beetz, Andy Garcia, Eugenio Derbez, Amr Waked, Ed Harris, Talitha Bateman, Daniel Wu, Adepero Oduye, Robert Sheehan, Richard Schiff

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for destruction, action and violence)

Running Time: 1:49

Release Date: 10/20/17


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Review by Mark Dujsik | October 20, 2017

There's no avoiding it: Geostorm is critically silly. It's a movie in which scientists are intelligent enough to design and implement an array of satellites that have the ability to the control the weather. It's also a movie in which the same group of scientists are unable to recognize the man who spearheaded the program, despite the facts that 1.) he is the most famous scientist in the world, whom ordinary people on the street recognize almost instantly, and 2.) he is wearing a nametag.

This is a movie that requires such stupidity but doesn't embrace the necessity of it. A movie such as this one is only as ridiculous as its ignorance. You can tell when a movie knows it's silly, because the filmmakers acknowledge that quality, either through overt joshing about the material or by ramping up the ludicrous factor with every turn. The screenwriters of Geostorm take this very seriously, from its prologue, which serves as a warning about the impending effects of climate change, to the plot, which involves a surprisingly small government conspiracy to sabotage the satellite system in order to implement change at the highest levels of government.

Speaking of which, this is a movie that also suggests that, at a political party convention in an election year, a speech by the President of the United States is basically the warm-up act for the real highlight of the night: a speech by the Vice President. This minor but odd detail is necessary because the President is the prime suspect of the sabotage at one point, so the movie needs to show him at the height of his power. He also needs to be off the stage shortly after, because he's the only man who can stop the satellites from causing a series of weather-related disasters that will cause a worldwide storm that cannot be stopped. The convention needs to keep going, because people need to be in peril from a massive lightning storm that causes everything to explode.

By the way, the countdown to the so-called "geostorm" is an actual countdown, with a timer ticking away the minutes and seconds with the helpful text "Countdown to Geostorm" in big letters. At a certain point, after Dubai has been washed away by a tidal wave and Mumbai has been devastated by a chain of tornadoes, the fear of an unstoppable global storm seems a bit trivial, especially since Orlando, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, Moscow, Hong Kong, and probably a few other major cities have been devastated by the time the movie ends.

The devastation is usually ironic: The sunny Rio freezes over, the parched Dubai floods, and a snowy Moscow is hit with a fire-hot laser beam (Each location has someone with whom we're supposed sympathize, too: a boy and his dog in Mumbai, an old lady outrunning boulder-sized hail in Tokyo, and a bikini-clad woman in woman). It's obvious that screenwriters Dean Devlin (who also directed) and Paul Guyot put most of their effort into figuring out this part. As for the visual effects, they're about as convincing as the rest of the movie—in other words, not very.

Anyway, the only man to stop the impending global disaster—not the actual global disaster that happens, though—is Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler), the man who oversaw the satellite system known as "Dutch Boy" (after the kid who stuck his finger in a dam). His brother Max (Jim Sturgess), who works in the White House, fired Jake three years before the sabotage, because he doesn't play by anybody's rules. On the International Space Station, Jake has to figure out who sabotaged Dutch Boy, and back on Earth, Max, who's secretly dating a Secret Service agent named Sarah (Abbie Cornish), has to determine who came up with the plan.

There's a lot of narrative run-around to keep plot going for as long as possible, with Jake and Max speaking in code, Max getting the aid of the tech-savvy Dana (Zazie Beetz), and plenty of suspicious activity on the ISS, where two too many people have guns in a fragile place surrounded by the vacuum of space (Under any circumstances, the correct number of guns that should be there is zero). Max and Sarah abduct the President (played by Andy Garcia) so that he can stop the whole mess.

You can see how this intentionally could have been fun. Instead, Geostorm is the sort of movie that's only worth making fun of—for its misplaced sincerity, the absurdity of its major and minor details, and the general feeling that it was made as quickly and as cheaply as possible.

Copyright © 2017 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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