Say what you will about Hollywood, but we’ve gotten some truly stellar blockbusters this year, from Wonder Woman, to War For the Planet of the Apes, to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. I’d personally take 2017 over a year like 1998, which brought us Armageddon, Deep Impact, and Godzilla. Alas, Geostorm feels like one of those disaster flicks from twenty years ago. It’s big, it’s loud, and, above all else, it’s dated. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the director is none other than Dean Devlin, who previously produced both Independence Day movies. At the very least, however, Geostorm is more fun than Battleship, San Andreas, or any of the Transformers sequels.
Through some of the most pretentious, self-important opening narration of recent memory, we’re informed that the earth has become overrun with natural disasters. Thanks to a defense system called Dutch Boy, mankind is able to control the climate. It’s just like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs… minus the meatballs. The mastermind behind this satellite is Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler), the everyman that’s always in movies like this. Of course it’s kind of hard to take Butler seriously as an everyman when he’s best known for leading Spartan warriors into battle.
Although Jake believes that Dutch Boy belongs to the whole world, the fat cats in Washington disagree. They want to keep Dutch Boy under American’s finger. Jake is thus booted off the project and his younger brother Max (Jim Sturgess) is put in charge. Years later, the satellite begins to malfunction, leading Jake and Max to believe that the government is behind a sabotage. With some help from a Secret Service agent (Abbie Cornish) and an astronaut (Alexandra Maria Lara), the brothers race against the clock to prevent a storm that’ll basically unleash the worst parts of the Bible.
To the film’s credit, it does have a wide variety of mayhem. Most movies would just settle for one natural disaster, but Geostorm has tornados, blizzards, lightening, tidal waves, extreme temperatures, and hail the size of boulders. It’s like watching all of Roland Emmerich’s movies at the exact same time. The screenwriters even manage to work in an exploding space station and evil men in black trying to assassinate the president. All that’s missing is a subplot where Jake’s daughter is taken hostage. You also gotta give props to Oscar nominees like Ed Harris and Andy García for keeping straight faces amidst all this silliness.
Geostorm is so excessive that it’s actually entertainingly stupid at times, especially during the third act. To get to the good stuff, however, you have to put up with a lot of one-note characters, cliché moments, and obvious morals. We all know exactly what the film is going to say in the end: people shouldn’t play god, the earth’s nations need to unite during times of crisis, a corrupt politician will likely cause the end of the world. That’s not to say these messages are wrong, but would it kill the filmmakers to get them across in a way that’s subtler and less preachy? As fast-paced as the action sequences can be, Geostorm stops dead in its tracks one too many times to keep us engaged throughout.