Picture this: a group of people in a board room, brainstorming a new action movie for 2017. Someone mentions ‘Volcano’ or ‘Twister’ and they all agree that Natural Disaster movies are awesome, but what natural disaster can they used this time? Haven’t they all been done? There’s even a Tsunami movie. Then some smart guy says ‘why don’t we do all of them?’ There’s a pause while everyone considers the possibility of having a disaster movie with ALL natural disasters. This, my friends, is how Geostorm got made; I’m certain of it. This movie looked ridiculous from the trailer and I found myself bracing for what could be a terrible action thriller.
When the network of satellites designed to control the global climate start to attack Earth, it’s a race against the clock to uncover the real threat before a worldwide geostorm wipes out everything and everyone.
Can you criticise Science Fiction movies for having bad science? After all, I’m prepared to accept light sabers and psionics in Star Wars and still call it ‘sci-fi’. Same with the Alien franchise (Xenomorphs apparently don’t need to eat to gain their mass) and The Matrix with its ‘human batteries’ (spoilers for Matrix). I have many other examples. So it’s weird that I decided to balk at the bad science in Geostorm. Of course weather doesn’t work that way, and neither do satellites, computers, the secret service, gravity, thermodynamics… you get the point. Maybe it was because the timeline was so close to our own, this was supposed to be humanity in just a few years. Maybe it was that they tried to make the science sound credible when it so clearly was not. Or maybe I was expecting Mark Wahlberg’s arms to somehow be in this. I don’t know, but whatever it was, I felt my disbelief stretched past what I could reasonably suspend.
But besides the crap science, everything else was pretty good. The pacing was on point – Geostorm is 1 hour and 49 minutes, with initial goal, mid-point turn and twist at the end of act II exactly placed. The dialogue was good too, which gave the case, all very well chosen, a lot to work with. There were some big names – Gerard Butler, Andy Garcia and Ed Harris who were all really good but for my money, I really liked Jim Sturgess. That guy is amazing, I couldn’t believe how much chemistry and emotional resonance he had with absolutely everyone on screen with him. His relationship with Abbie Cornish was convincing and intense. Also worth mentioning is the very handsome Robert Sheehan, who was also excellent.
Visually Geostorm was a treat. They really captured how awesome and devastating weather can be. Nature is scary, it’s true. And it really was ALL the disasters rolled into one movie. There were broad sweeping shots showing the space station and satellites too, which were pretty good. Something interesting was how casually people went into space even though it looked quite similar to space travel today except more, like we were better at it. That was neat. Also good were the action sequences. The film seemed tense even without a lot of car chases and knock-down fights, though not all attempts to at tension were successful – a lot of short scenes in the first act that were clearly supposed to build suspense but were just annoying and uninformative, but once you get past that, the mystery builds and unfolds very nicely.
So is Geostorm worth watching? Well it’s not bad, better than I thought it would be. You can rent it or watch it on TV. There was no fan service, which is a shame and I was entertained for the length of the film. I didn’t really feel the need to think about it afterwards, even with its message on climate management. Director Dean Devlin gave us Godzilla, Independence Day (both) and also Stargate. This is more on the Independence Day II Resurgence end of the spectrum. It’s not a bad film, it’s just something I feel like I’ve seen before.