Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
After extreme natural disasters ravage the Earth, multiple countries band together to create a network of satellites to control the weather. Years later, the satellites are malfunctioning and attacking various parts of the world. With nowhere to turn, the US government calls-in disgraced former space station commander Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler) to figure out what is going on – before the titular catastrophe destroys everything on Earth.
Without seeing a trailer, I still had some idea of what was coming when I sat down for Geostorm. First-time Director Dean Devlin wrote and produced 1998’s rendition of Godzilla as well as Independence Day (and its unfortunate sequel). All three movies destroyed tourist landmarks, killed countless people, featured mind-blowing technology and featured a small band of ragtag individuals saving the world with their heroics and one-liners. Geostorm packs-in all of these elements, never straying too far from what Devlin does best. While there were some painfully awkward lines that could have been excised (and some all too timely character motivations), I was consistently amused by the dialogue delivered by Butler and his co-lead Jim Sturgess. They are both well aware of the kind of movie they are in, and revel in its inherent silliness.
The Shakespearean dialogue heard is the least of Geostorm’s problems. Devlin spends nearly two-thirds of the Film focusing on trivial science jargon, thinly-veiled allusions to real world global warming issues, a political conspiracy and a sibling rivalry. Yes, there are two short scenes where large cities get destroyed, but the bulk of the chaos and destruction the audience is waiting for takes its sweet time arriving on-screen. And when it finally does in the last Act, the Film barely shows it. An entire car chase scene takes place in the middle of an epic lightning storm, but the lightning barely registers as any form of focal point. All hell breaks loose in Dubai and Mumbai, but we are not given the opportunity to care because the Film is too focused on the destruction of a space station instead.
And rather disappointingly, the CGI drops the ball even further. There are a few polished scenes sprinkled throughout Geostorm’s running time, but the majority feature some of the worst visual effects I have seen this decade. While they may look slightly better in 3D, it was aggravating to see such disregard for the most essential and important piece of the Film. Far too many of the effects simply looked incomplete. The toys and models used in Independence Day looked more realistic than the bogus effects employed here. What is the point of retooling and reshooting a Film for over two years if you cannot make it look the best it possibly can?
Geostorm should have been a mindless Disaster Thriller. It has a handful of thrilling and entertaining moments, but it does not live up to its premise – or even compare to other films in the genre. The incomplete CGI effects only further add to the disappointment. But here’s hoping that the Film’s dystopic story elements do not become a reality anytime soon.
Warner Bros. Pictures Canada release GEOSTORM on Friday, October 20, 2017.