A disaster movie should be pretty simple to do. You chuck an ensemble cast of characters together, give them big hard to forget personalities then make everything explode around them. For years this was a winning formula and made for some very entertaining films but then everything went wrong. The personalities were drained away, the practical effects which made the disasters seem real were replaced by shoddy CGI and they ended up being as dull as dishwater. So while disaster movies are dreaded now, I always hope they can make a comeback. Can Geostorm be the movie that shows this genre can be good again?
Years in the future, the Earth is safe from natural disasters due to a series of satellites that are designed to prevent them. However they start to malfunction and cause disasters so the man who created the satellites, Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler, The Phantom of the Opera) is sent back into space to try and save the world again.
Amazingly, those opening paragraphs I write aren’t just garbled nonsense that I write to pad these reviews out. Well, some times. And this is one of those times as you know how I said they replaced practical effects with shoddy CGI in these disaster movies? Well that shoddy CGI is back because this movie looks awful. Our first glimpse at a disaster is when we see a village in Afghanistan that’s completely frozen over. It looks about as real as the dodgy photoshops of celebrities on Facebook. It’s a joke. This is 2018 and we are seeing some studios put movies with special effects that are so good you don’t find out they are special effects until you get home and read about it on IMDB. And yet this film is giving stuff that is ripped right out of that crap remake of The Day After Tomorrow. This is just pathetic to look at.
The way the movie tries to get over this is by giving you all the disasters you could want. You have tidal waves, you have massive hailstorms, you’ve got everything freezing and of course everything has to heat up and boil as well, pretty much every disaster you can think of happens at some point. And while this sounds very exciting on paper, it ends up being overload and just makes you numb to the idea of all these disasters. It doesn’t help that the film doesn’t really build big disastrous moments. One scene sees a plane get frozen in mid-air and crash down into a street. It’s a huge loss of life and something that should be seen as a big set piece. It’s done in two seconds. Plane appears, it crashes and smashes. That’s it. It could be an awesome moment if built the right way, but the movie just chucks it on screen and hopes you like the scale of it. Well no, because it’s just one in a series of big things that happens.
But a disaster movie is not all about the disasters, though it does play a big part. There has to be some human characters about doing some stuff. Unfortunately, they are all dull as dishwater. The only thing of note about Jake Lawson is that he has a chip on his shoulder. That’s it. He really doesn’t like authority and he’ll be a bit of a dick for the sake of it. That doesn’t exactly make him the most likable character in the world but you do sort of give him a pass as he did save the world. If you save the world you are allowed to be a bit snarky at hearings. And a day on from watching this film, I can’t really remember anyone else. There was a Secret Service woman who had no personality, Jake’s brother who just moaned for most of the movie and a daughter who was a genius though that didn’t affect anything in the movie.
And for some bizarre reason, the movie decides to make it all a grand conspiracy. Seriously. The movie is about destroying the world and they decide to focus more on the fact there is a group of people who are creating the disasters so they can take over the world. Of Course. It is incredibly silly and when the villains are revealed, the actors playing them don’t really believe that they’d do something as stupid as this. The plan is a complete mess and it would only need the slightest tug for it to all fall apart. I’m never a fan of villains in disaster movies because the natural world is a big enough villain without adding a human to the mix but if you are going to do it, do it properly.
There is very little to like about the movie but I feel there is one thing that stops it being as bad as the likes of Independence Day: Resurgence. It at the very least acknowledges that it shouldn’t be around for long and has a frenetic pace as if it wants to end as much as you want it to end. That means that while you are bored, at least you are seeing different environments and different things which stops your brain going into complete shutdown mode. The movie is under two hours long as well which is refreshing. I still remember how 2012 lasted for about two days. I have scars man, scars.
Geostorm probably isn’t as bad as some reviews have made it out to be but it’s still pretty terrible. It has terrible effects and fails to make any impact with any of its disasters because it throws too much at the screen at once. It’s not as bad as some disaster movies that I’ve had to sit through because it has the good grace to speed through anything and make sure it is done in under two hours. I think there’s some knowledge by the people who made it that this is not a good movie and they are in damage limitation mode. Unfortunately, a lot of damage was inflicted in that amount of time.