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Geostorm Review

"As stupid as it looked"

Dean Devlin is best known for being the writer on Roland Emmerich Hollywood films in the ‘90s. Now after a long career of writing and producing Devlin has moved into the director’s chair and makes his debut with the incredibly silly Geostorm.

In the near future Earth suffers from extreme weather events that leads to two million people dying in Madrid and Lower Manhattan getting flooded. To combat this the international community unite to make a satellite system to control the weather known as Dutch Boy, led by the scientific maverick Jake Lawson (Gerald Butler). However, the system starts to fail just before a handover by the American government to an international committee and it is up to Jake and his brother Max (Jim Sturgess) to investigate what’s happening and prevent global disaster.

Devlin’s biggest credit to date is the ‘90s Independence Day and that Geostorm can be described as a film that came from the ‘90s. As well as Independence Day, Geostorm has some similarities to films like Armageddon and Deep Impact and even the Emmerich films The Day After Tomorrow and 2012 – the Emmerich disaster films Devlin wasn’t involved with. Like those films there is a lot of international destruction, governmental conspiracy and a family riff being healed by the disaster.

Like many of those films there was a lot of destruction of major cities: Hong Kong, Dubai, Tokyo, Moscow and Rio de Janeiro being on the receiving end of extreme weather events, and clearly millions of people would have died. The purpose of Dutch Boy was to ensure countries keep their natural climates so when it fails, hot controls like Brazil and Afghanistan become freezing cold and snowy whilst Russia gets a heat wave in winter. Much of the destruction is similar to The Day After Tomorrow, like when Rio de Janeiro is hit by a tidal wave people freeze instantly and even a plane falls from the sky because it’s so cold and in Hong Kong the city causes the gas lines in a district gets destroyed – a cat even tries to go into a fridge because he knows of the impending doom.

Geostorm is a big spectacle of a film, yet its special effects are a mixed bag. The CGI for Dutch Boy and the smaller satellites look so impressive that the effects can rival other space set movies like Gravity and rebooted Star Trek series. But some of the effects of the disaster left a lot to be desired: the worst effects were during the Rio disaster. The CGI was too obvious and it was so overblown it seemed like a repeat of 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow. The trailer even has one of these effects like the frozen plane that falls from the sky and crashes into Rio.

Devlin has shown himself to be an unoriginal writer and despite his attempts of subversion the screenplay, directing and editing makes many plot ideas and twist could be seen from miles away. One example is the camera lingers on one character to make it seem like he was a villain: but it was really a bad attempt of misdirection. If you cannot predict who the head of the conspiracy really is then you haven’t seen enough films.

The film also relies on some of the characters having lower levels of intelligence and logic than an adult should. My personal favorite is when the leader of the conspiracy goes to one of the cities they plan to destroy. What was the exit plan? Why do it?

A criticism leveled against many Emmerich disaster films and Hollywood disaster films in general, is they are American-centric. Devlin at least tries to bring in an international dimensional. There is a theme of international co-operation: on the Dutch Boy are a number of flags, the head scientist is German and the crew on Dutch Boy come from all over the world: Britain, France, India, South Africa, etc… To capitalize on the lucrative Chinese market, Daniel Wu has a supporting role as an Earth-based scientist who runs the Dutch Boy program in Hong Kong and plays a key role in uncovering the conspiracy.

When Jake introduces himself to the crew on Dutch Boy he states that despite himself and his brother being American citizens they were born in the UK. This is possibly an attempt to justify Butler’s inability to do an American accent although it was stronger in this film than in the Fallen series and Law Abiding Citizen.

Geostorm is what I describe as a ‘beer film’ – the type of movie you will watch with friends and make fun off. You laugh at it not with it and the entertainment value is mostly unintentional.

Rating
4.0
Pros
  • Got some strong special effects
  • Audiences can have a fun night in riffing the film
Cons
  • Unintentionally entertaining
  • Predictable
  • Utterly stupid

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