Directed by: Dean Devlin
Starring: Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Alexandra Maria Lara, Andy Garcia, Ed Harris
It was reported during its production that Dean Devlin’s Geostorm was a troubled shoot. Reportedly, WB had to spend something like 15 million dollars on reshoots, bringing in Jerry Bruckheimer as an uncredited consultant. The resulting movie is a mess, for sure, but a deliciously ridiculous and sometimes entertaining mess.
Gerard Butler stars as supposedly brilliant scientist Jake Lawson, the man behind a globe-spanning satellite system called Dutch Boy. The purpose of Dutch Boy is to keep Earth safe from natural disasters by manipulating the weather when needed, keeping everything nice and stable. Jake’s younger brother Max (Jim Sturgess) is the political player that made the project happen, but the two brothers have a falling out at the opening of the film and Jake is fired from the project. Fast forward three years: Apparent malfunctions in Dutch Boy cause death and destruction as an Afghan village is suddenly frozen solid and Hong Kong is superheated until the gas mains explode. President Andy Garcia and his top adviser Ed Harris bring in Jake to fix whatever is wrong with Dutch Boy. Jake takes the next shuttle up to the International Space Station, and discovers that someone is trying to weaponize Dutch Boy with the intention to create a global, unstoppable disaster – the titular “geostorm”.
If you think that sounds as a predictable plotline, wait until you see it play out. There are overly obvious echoes from Day After Tomorrow and 2012 here as writer/director Dean Devlin tries to out-Emmerich former partner Roland Emmerich (they were a team on Independence Day, Stargate and Godzilla). The result is that disaster movie déjà vu is stronger than usual.
The first hour is mostly generic and sometimes rather dull techno thriller fare as Jake and Max investigate and discover the sabotage plot. The pace picks up when they loose control of Dutch Boy and the situation goes critical: Mayhem erupts all over the globe as Dubai gets flooded, Mumbai ripped by tornadoes, Rio de Janeiro flash frozen, Moscow set on fire by space lasers and Orlando hammered by lightning. So yes, there is a disaster scenario for every taste here, 2012 style, but most of these are just shown as brief glimpses between more standard action scenes.
The visual effects are passable but certainly not the top-notch stuff you would expect from such a big budget effort. Clumsy exposition, dumb dialogue, lifeless attempts at humour and less than credible twists and turns leave otherwise likeable actors (no, I don’t have anything against Butler) and actual stars (Ed Harris and Andy Garcia) stranded. The relationship themes are quite token as well.
So why not a rock bottom rating? Simply because this is all so stunningly silly that I found myself kind of entertained. Geostorm kind of reminds of one of those mockbusters churned out by studios like The Asylum, where traditional cinematic qualities like structure are irrelevant as the filmmakers throw anything into the mix just for fun. Because, who cares anyway? That’s kind of the feeling I get here, only with bigger names and better VFX. While no means “good”, Geostorm is entertaining enough for disaster movie fans to give it a go.