‘Geostorm’ review: Yawn Before the Storm

Life is a Cinema Hall rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars (1.5 / 5) (This rating is only a snapshot. The details are in the words.)

Director Dean Devlin set out, with all the might of big-budget and studio muscle, to create a disaster movie. Geostorm, instead, lands into the wrong side of its objective and adjective, becoming an undeniably disastrous effort. It plumbs such low depths in storytelling (take a bow and an arrow, Dean Devlin and Paul Guyot), it makes the entertainingly well-made 2012 look like a cult classic.

Mumbai on a set in Geostorm.
Mumbai on a set in Geostorm.

The movie’s surprises and shocks lie not in its computer graphics or dazzling special effects—both of which are underwhelming—but in how little time or thought seems to have gone into orchestrating them. And even less of both in trying to intertwine the disaster scenes into the main story, or whatever it is that it isn’t. As a rule, movies where nature strikes back are foreboding tellings of how mankind is hurtling its very existence into question by pushing Mother Nature to newer and devastating levels of ravages and plundering. Here, the first round of disasters has already struck, a solution—codenamed Dutch Boy and led by the US and China (is this Hollywood sucking up to moneybags rolling from sinewy Sino?)—that uses a cluster of satellites hovering around the planet to control the climate, is commissioned in 2019.

Gerard Butler and Alexandra Maria Lara wait for the story to pick up.
Gerard Butler and Alexandra Maria Lara wait for the story to pick up.

The project’s Chief Architect Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler) is hauled in front of a commission for unauthorized use of the satellites to muffle a typhoon in Shanghai, and replaced by his brother Max (Jim Sturgess), who reports to Secretary of State Leonard Dekkom (Ed Harris). The brothers fall out and Jake retires to tinker with whatever he tinkers with, getting his teenage daughter Hannah (Talitha Bateman) two weekends per month to live with him. Cut to three years later when a bizarre climate disaster in the deserts of Afghanistan (this sounds better than it looks onscreen) forces Max to come to the conclusion that someone is trying to sabotage Dutch Boy. Meanwhile there’s a fatal incident on board the International Climate Space Station (ICSS) that seems to be connected to the Afghanistan incident. US president Andrew Palma (Andy García) wants one man to go up into space and fix whatever that’s happening on the ICSS. That man, of course, is the mighty miffed Jake and the man to convince him to return is, of course, sibling Max. On the side, Max’s carrying on with Secret Service Agent Sarah Wilson (Abbie Cornish), which is supposedly illegal. (Because she’s been assigned to protect POTUS? Or because the couple has nothing else to talk about but how it’s wrong for them to be having an affair? Or because this will enable the President to mouth a corny dialogue in the midst of a car chase later in the movie?)

Andy Garcia and Abbie Cornish are taken for a ride.
Andy Garcia and Abbie Cornish are taken for a ride.

Anyhoos, Jake makes it to the ICSS, meets the staff that includes the German commander of the station, Ute Fassbinder (Alexandra Maria Lara), and astronauts who are Hispanic (Eugenio Derbez), English (Robert Sheehan), and Nigerian (Adepero Oduye). All of this is mostly immaterial, except that this ploy crams the space station with diverse folks. Geostorm struggles at being a conspiracy thriller a la the 24 series, while trying to straddle the emotional propulsion of Interstellar—note the daughter narrating the weakling story, not wanting dad to go into space; or, Lorne Balfe‘s poor man’s Hans Zimmer-score when papa launches into space. It also, for good measure, throws in the sibling rivalry angle that bubbles in interspatial video conferences.

Gerard Butler and Jim Sturgess are relieved they aren't alone in this enterprise.
Gerard Butler and Jim Sturgess are relieved they aren’t alone in this enterprise.

None of this works—the conspiracy theory is more chortle than throttle—and adding to your cloud of cinematic woes is the laughable dialogues that swerve from embarrassing to doubly-embarrassing. Plus, the special effects are nowhere near what you’d expect a movie that claims to cover the entire planet reeling from catastrophe ought to deliver. And the biggest typooh-pooh of them all? The premise is a countdown to prevent the catastrophe from happening. Umm. So where’s my breathtaking effects and snazzy pyrotechnics?

Geostorm is a disservice to its all-round powerful cast. Without fail, every one one of them is reduced to 2-D cut-outs, not one for whom you care. Jim Sturgess, Andy Garcia, Abbie Cornish, and Ed Harris shake their heads at various points in the movie (or was it me who was nodding off?) and seem to wonder when it’ll all end. Gerard Butler is the only one who has the guts to show what he thinks of this enterprise. He snarls, grimaces, and growls, undoubtedly thinking of his casting agent in every scene. If there’s one thing he doesn’t do, it’s yawn. But that’s only because he’s also gracious enough to leave something for you to do.

Life is a Cinema Hall ratings chart
1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5): Don’t bother
2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5): Not too great
3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5): Worth a watch
4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5): Very good
5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5): Drop everything else NOW

Geostorm (2017) on IMDb

Movie data powered by IMDb

Geostorm is rated PG-13 for destruction, violence, action, and possible ennui.

 Dean Devlin Running Time 1h 49min
Writer Dean Devlin, Paul Guyot
Stars Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Ed Harris, Andy Garcia
Genres Action, Sci-Fi ,Thriller

Watch the trailer of Geostorm here: