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Geostorm (2017)

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Score: 3/10

Genre: Thriller Running Time: 1 hr. 49 min.

Release Date: October 20th, 2017 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Dean Devlin Actors: Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Alexandra Maria Lara, Daniel Wu, Amr Waked, Talitha Bateman, Andy Garcia, Ed Harris, Zazie Beetz, Eugenio Derbez

B

y 2019, increased global warming had caused numerous “extreme weather” outbursts. Heat waves, tornados, tidal waves, and more began decimating cities, resulting in the deaths of millions. Seventeen countries finally came together to confront the catastrophes, with engineer Jacob Lawson (Gerard Butler) leading a team of top international scientists to conceive the solution: “Dutch Boy” (which is erroneously spelled Dutchboy in a scene or two), a network of thousands of satellites working in unison to monitor the Earth’s weather to immediately counter the formation of any threatening conditions.

Three years pass without incident until a remote village in an Afghan desert is destroyed by frost. When a scientist aboard the ISS dies in a mysterious accident, and then a large swathe of a Tokyo highway crumbles shortly thereafter, U.S. President Andrew Palma (Andy Garcia) scrambles for answers. Under the advisement of Secretary of State Leonard Dekkom (Ed Harris), and much to the dismay of new Dutch Boy project leader and estranged younger brother Max Lawson (Jim Sturgess, who can’t seem to maintain a sense of genuine urgency, despite being in a perpetual state of panic), Jacob is recruited (from a forced retirement) to investigate the deadly occurrences. But when Jake arrives at the ISS, he quickly discovers that the problems with his beloved satellite network are far more serious than a few system malfunctions. Now, with the aid of ISS Commander Ute Fassbinder (Alexandra Maria Lara) and his allies below on Earth, Jake must race against time to uncover the root of the escalating disasters before millions of lives are lost to a cataclysmic “geostorm.”

In the near future, moderate climate changes have surged into severe weather – which causes cataclysmic devastation, such as killing two million people in a single day in Madrid, or flooding lower Manhattan until it sits permanently underwater. But scientists save the day – or, rather, the proceeding days, as a predominantly U.S. and Chinese coalition creates a satellite system that can govern global weather itself. In a decidedly unbelievable twist, the world is grateful. But most of this setup is brushed aside for a more realistic, pressing plot, which involves the politicization of Dutch Boy, the credit for devising it, a power struggle over maintaining it, and, ultimately, a conspiracy to control it. “Let’s not forget … it’s an election year,” explains Leonard.

The people included in this political turmoil are utterly generic (from a proud founder to a tough president to a nervous liaison to a room full of expectedly diverse yet disgruntled scientists); and they become embroiled in generic situations upon which they offer generic observations. Generic jargon presides over the futuristic elements, while generic family drama (such as a precocious kid and a forbidden romance) unfolds through terribly generic dialogue (from brotherly bickering to uninspiring inspirational pep talks). Since practically every moment of “Geostorm” is formulaic and commonplace, it’s difficult to care about who might survive the massive destruction (toothless at it may be) looming just over the horizon. In fact, many audiences will probably root for the geostorm.

If Dutch Boy fails, it will generate a storm (or a compilation of compounding storms) far worse than the weather predicaments it was designed to prevent. This is the first of many laughable situations, which begin to arrive so frequently toward the conclusion that “Geostorm” could be considered a comedy. Most of the one-liners fall flat, while the melodrama is bland, the tech is silly, and the conspiracies are boring. But the ludicrous nature of the sabotage – which grows more significant and action-packed than the crazy weather itself – lends to a tremendous amount of unintentional humor. Spying, hacking, surveilling, and generating cover-ups are so regular that “Geostorm” is more of a political thriller than it is a disaster movie. When a Florida convention center explodes like the White House from “Independence Day,” the picture briefly resembles the spectacle writer/director Dean Devlin was surely trying to reproduce; but when a government agent grabs a handy rocket launcher from the trunk of his limousine, or when a random dog and its child owner reunite after what seems like hours of dodging panicky, trampling people scurrying away from a strong wind, the ridiculousness returns in full force. Whether or not the geostorm actually occurs (and to what degree), it still wins, considering that the pre-geostorm anomalies cause trillions of dollars worth of damage. And with this farcical cast of characters, that’s entirely acceptable.

– The Massie Twins

 



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