Geostorm (2017)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Geostorm</strong> (2017)

(On Cable TV, August 2018) Don’t tell anyone, but I do have a soft spot for those dumb catastrophe movies that run on a stream of special-effect sequences. Geostorm really isn’t anywhere close to being an exemplar of the form, but it’s enough to scratch that itch. The setup, with its runaway weather-altering satellites in a rigid grid, makes zero sense … but that’s irrelevant as it’s merely meant to enable a series of distinctive action vignettes. Gerald Butler is the lead here, his square jaw and dubious ability to pick good movie projects being all we need in a protagonist. Dean Devlin has his first solo directing job here (although reshoots three years later under another director kind of sabotage this achievement), which makes sense considering that he, alongside Ronald Emmerich, had a hand in similar global-destruction projects such as Independence Day and Godzilla. Alas, for all of the destructive joy found in Geostorm as it targets Hong Kong, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, Mumbai, Moscow and Dubai (and an entire space station), the plot has trouble keeping up with the spectacle. We’re soon stuck in a familiar morass of rogue American officials, conspiracy theories, out-of-control systems and rote character dynamics. The actors don’t do much to help: Butler is his usual reliable self, with Ed Harris and Andy Garcia also doing their best, but Abbie Cornish continues to be distinctively boring. Only Zazie Beetz distinguishes herself in a small role. Still, that’s not much, and seeing the disjointed result only makes one wish for a tell-all documentary showing what prompted the reshoots and how they tried to patch Geostorm into its final form. Otherwise, the film does better as a battle between spectacle and stupidity, as very little effort is made to even make the mayhem halfway plausible. Considering that we’ve seen a lot of these movies lately, Geostorm may have worked as an almost-parody camp version of those films … but it chose to attempt a straight version, and the very middle-of-the-road result speaks for itself.

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