Disaster movies seem to be a genre that few can get right. Not that they’re unpopular, as the late nineties through the 2000’s gave us a ton of those. But while audiences may have gone back to them each summer to catch the latest crisis that threatens a city, critics rarely praise them. Even mass audiences seem to be aware of how crass they are. I’m sure if I were to name Volcano, Deep Impact or Independence Day, you’d probably tell me that one of them a guilty pleasure of yours. I’d be lying if I said I hated these, but it’s clear that proper storytelling an compelling characters take a backseat to the real star, the special effects.
One thing that’s changed is that the blockbusters we have now contain all sorts of special effects. A giant tornado or a hail shower isn’t going to look as impressive as Iron Man or magic come to life. Another is that people are more likely to consider just how many could die in a disaster movie situation. Finally, audiences are going to eventually want more variety and disaster movies tend to take the same route. Geostorm is so bland and generic of a disaster movie that you’d wonder if it was written to be a parody.
Due to climate change and global warming, scientist Jake Lawson (played by Gerard Butler) creates a series of satellites that connect to a system called “Dutch Boy”. This can deploy anything to stop major weather like hurricanes, tornados, and even control temperature. Because Jake is a rebel who doesn’t think the UN should be in charge of these weather forces, he’s booted off while his brother Max (played by Jim Sturgess), who works for the white house, is given charge.
A couple of years later, the UN starts to notice the Dutch Boy malfunctioning. They send Max to his brother Jake to go into space to figure out the problem. As Jake gets there and is introduced to the ships commander, he see’s that there’s been a lot of glitches that is being perpetrated by a terrorist hacker. Meanwhile, Max and his girlfriend secret service agent Sarah (played by Abbie Cornish) start to uncover a plot from the inside of the white house that may have to do with the Dutch Boy. Perhaps president Andrew Palma (played by Andy Garcia) or U.S. Secretary of State Leonard Dekkom (played by Ed Harris) might know what to do.
Where do I begin with Geostorm? Probably that it uses all the clichés that we’ve seen in every nineties disaster movie like the crisis bringing the family together, government officials that don’t believe the scientists, the rag-tag group of heroes, the rebel who doesn’t like authority, and more. This movie adds nothing new to any of these. The special effects look neat, but are unimpressive, look cheap, and don’t make sense half of the time (why does a satellite need a death ray? How can Dubai become flooded with water only for it flush into nothing?)
When it’s not clichéd, it’s very boring, with a lot of science talk that I’m sure that any scientist will be happy to debunk. I’m no meteorologist, but I’m sure you can’t get rid of a hurricane by blowing up wind. You’d think that the movie would at least play up the actions as campy. Nope, everything is treated serious. I’d like to meet the scriptwriter who seriously thought that he was crafting something original. This isn’t even good enough to be a sci-fi Channel original movie. At least Sharknado embrace the insanity of the idea and had fun with it.
I’ll give this half a satellite out of five. It’s hard to tell who would like this. Kids maybe, but I’d think they would find this too boring. Disaster movie fans may get something out of the special effects, but would still find a lot more from other movies. The only thing that may be a saving grace is that it could make a star attraction for a movie night. Geostorm is definitely one of the worst of the year. Skip this storm.