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Geostorm Confirms the Evanescent Disaster Movie


I think the disaster movie has run its course and it’s about time it died as a genre. Since Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day, which wasn’t that good a film itself, there’s been disaster movies every few years -hell in the years immediately following there were tons. But the novelty of seeing landmarks and cities destroyed has worn off to the point we’re numb to them. And no movie proves this more than Geostorm, the directorial debut of Dean Devlin, whose last credit is the screenplay for Independence Day:Resurgence. And it shows.
Set in the not-too-distant future, a giant space station and system of satellites called “Dutch Boy” (a name the audience never manages to take seriously) has been controlling and maintaining global climates. When a series of localized climate disasters occur, the system architect Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler) is sent back into space to fix it. But on Earth, his brother Max (Jim Sturgess), a U.S. administration official, begins to uncover evidence of a conspiracy suggestive of someone using this system to create a “geostorm” and wreak havoc on the planet.
This story is ridiculously convoluted, as it tries to be both a disaster movie and a conspiracy thriller, delivering on neither. It takes a while before we see any catastrophic damage and the lead-up to it is incredibly dull. The conspiracy stuff isn’t even very good, with half the brothers’ hypotheses sounding just as ludicrous as any truther’s ramblings, only they wind up, through plot contrivances, actually finding evidence to support them. The ultimate reveal of the villain and their motive is impressively lazy as well. The relationship between the brothers is also heavily emphasized, which fails to work due to the utter lack of chemistry between the actors. And to that, the writing is really poor. The dialogue is often very awkward, multiple characters are prone to inconsistent actions, and there are some really weird plot devices. There’s one scene which demonstrates a communication code the brothers have that’s unbelievably specific and dumb. Though the film takes itself too seriously most of time, it adds comic relief every once in a while through very gratingly unfunny jokes. They even do the unknowingly-insulting-the-guy-behind-your-back bit.
Gerard Butler is giving his usual slipshod performance as Jake, a rather unlikeable leading man who’s very high on his own self-importance. Sturgess’ performance also is unusually bad -his acting’s very stunted and repetitive. Abbie Cornish plays a Secret Service agent dating Max (because this movie couldn’t resist being a soap opera), leaving no impression. In fact most of the cast are underwhelming. Even actors who are usually great like Ed Harris, Robert Sheehan, Richard Schiff, and Andy Garcia as the President, are clearly not putting much effort into their parts. The only actors who seem to actually be trying are Zazie Beetz as a tech expert, Eugenio Derbez as one of the crewmen, neither of whom can quite escape the horrible writing, and Alexandra Maria Lara as the station commander and only genuinely likeable character in the film. Jake also has a daughter who despite narrating both the movies’ opening and closing moments, factors minimally into the story herself.
Even the disasters are really unexciting, with the typical kinds of things we’ve grown accustomed to from the genre; from skyskrapers dominoing down, to one guy in a car manoeuvring around the chaos with little regard to all the people dying behind him, to an airplane falling out of the sky, and of course a dog in the path of the danger who you know will get out fine because these movies will never have the guts to kill off a dog. And the disasters never feel threatening, in fact more often than not, they’re downright comical. Such as when everyone on a beach while running away are turned into ice. That’s not a manipulated natural disaster, that’s Elsa from Frozen! The visuals aren’t even that good on their own, but it doesn’t help when we’re seeing things as goofy as a tsunami trying to look realistic in the United Arab Emirates. The U.A.E. and every other country shown are laughably stereotypical. If you think of the most clichéd image of Arabia, Russia, Japan, it’s in this movie. But it goes hand-in-hand with the fact that Sheehan’s whole character is just “British git”. Also, every time the movie cuts to an international city, it highlights the country too. Clearly Geostorm knows its target audience isn’t very bright.
Geostorm is an absolutely mindless movie that’s desperately trying to come up with a reason for the disaster genre to still exist. It’s poorly made, unimaginative, and resoundingly dull. With movies like Blade Runner 2049, It, Kingsman, and even The Foreigner still playing, don’t waste your money on this awful mess.

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