Geostorm

 

starstarstar

 

 

An international cast struggles to save face in Dean Devlin’s ludicrous – and ludicrously entertaining – disaster movie.

 

Geostorm

 

You thought Harvey, Irma and Brian were bad? Wait till you see what they’ve cooked up in Geostorm. For the purposes of the film, a ‘geostorm’ is a chain reaction of extreme weather patterns that should pretty much destroy the world as we know it. After a string of rather good disaster movies (most recently Deepwater Horizon and San Andreas), Geostorm returns us to the good-old-bad-old days of Irwin Allen, when that particular movie mogul dished up things like Flood, Fire, The Swarm and When Time Ran Out... Geostorm, marking the directorial debut of the producer Dean Devlin (of Independence Day and Godzilla fame) may be cheesy, silly and flat-out ridiculous, but at least it isn’t boring.

 

Originally set far in the future, but moved to 2019 for purposes of credibility (gulp), the film imagines a scenario in which a system of satellites has been designed in order to control the worst excesses of the earth’s weather. In real life, scientists are already finding ways of fine-tuning local climate conditions, so this doesn’t seem that far-fetched. But then things go mental. We are also thrown some rather tedious sibling rivalry between Gerard Butler’s chief architect and his more politically expedient brother (Jim Sturgess). The latter then takes over the running of the weather monitoring mechanism, which they’ve dubbed ‘Dutch Boy’ after the finger-wielding youth of Dutch legend. Then something awful happens in Afghanistan, where the entire occupants of a village are frozen to death. There’s also an instant heatwave in Hong Kong, which causes horrendous destruction, including the explosion of underground gas lines that send skyscrapers toppling like dominoes. In short, what has been set up to protect the planet is now being used as a weapon against it…

 

The original premise for Geostorm, with all its outrageous thinking outside the box, is actually a gem. It’s also so ludicrous that it would have taken a director of the calibre of Christopher Nolan to make it work. Frankly, Dean Devlin is no Christopher Nolan. In spite of a budget of $120 million, the film looks cheap, while Lorne Balfe's incessant score ensures that the whole thing feels like a product-by-committee. And, as the story gets more preposterous by the scene, one almost expects the heroic Gerard Butler to ride out of the satellite on horseback. When somebody is hit by a car, they somersault several times in the air. When a cold front approaches Rio de Janeiro, the sunbathers are frozen solid mid-panic. While no doubt meteorologists will get a chuckle out of all this, the film’s straight face doesn’t do it any favours. It’s as ripe as a brie on a griddle. Still, cheese is OK – if you’re willing to forego the nuanced flavours of haute cuisine.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Ed Harris, Andy García, Alexandra Maria Lara, Daniel Wu, Eugenio Derbez, Amr Waked, Adepero Oduye, Richard Schiff, Robert Sheehan, Mare Winningham, Zazie Beetz, Talitha Bateman, Billy Slaughter, Julia Denton.

 

Dir Dean Devlin, Pro David Ellison, Dean Devlin and Dana Goldberg, Screenplay Dean Devlin and Paul Guyot, Ph Roberto Schaefer, Pro Des Kirk M. Petruccelli, Ed Ron Rosen, Chris Lebenzon and John Refoua, Music Lorne Balfe, Costumes Susan Matheson.

 

Warner Bros. Pictures/Skydance Media/Electric Entertainment-Warner Brothers.

101 mins. USA. 2017. Rel: 20 October 2017. Cert. 12A.