By Jack Dignan
I don’t know if I’m qualified to review this. It’s not that I don’t have the experience, I’ve been doing this for over five years, but it’s simply because I don’t remember what happened in this film. I mean, I do. I remember the primary plot beats and I remember what I liked and didn’t like about it, but that’s more so me remembering the conversations I had about the film after walking out of the cinema. In terms of what actually happened on screen, that’s vanished from my memory. Gone. Disappeared. Left without a trace. But really, if memory serves, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Geostorm is bad. I remember that much. It’s been advertised as a Day After Tomorrow-esque disaster film with more of a sci-fi spin, where a device capable to controlling the whether and subduing natural disasters goes horribly awry. Instead of removing the problem, it creates one, burning down hell upon Earth and risking the end of the world as we know it. In reality, this isn’t true. The advertisements have been false. All natural disaster elements of this film don’t even happen until well into the third act, with the exception of two brief sequences used to build suspense within the plot (despite both remaining unresolved).
Gerard Butler plays Jake Lawson. He’s the genius mechanical mastermind behind the global whether controlling station, positioned in the Earth’s atmosphere. Except, when we first catch up with him, he’s been booted out of his own company, and consequently no longer the protagonist. Cue Max (Jim Sturgess), Jake’s secret service agent brother, and his girlfriend Sarah Wilson (Abbie Cornish). Max is put in charge of the company, while Sarah lives her life in service of the President (Andy Garcia). Max and Sarah uncover a secret plot with dark roots that threatens to manipulate the whether system into destroying most of the world’s population, and it’s up to them to stop it.
It’s not a race against the clock to escape natural disasters and find a stop to it, as one might’ve expected when walking into this film, but instead it’s a race against the clock to ensure these disasters don’t start. Obviously, for anybody who’s seen the trailer or the poster, they do, and that’s when the film really kicks into gear. The first two acts are a slow, tedious political thriller in space, and it’s not nearly as exciting as something like that would have the potential to be. Pacing is non-existent, characterization even less so. Plot information is jammed down your throat at 100 miles per hour, and if you fall behind or forget everything, you’re not alone.
I found myself constantly drifting out of concentration while watching this film. It’s mildly interesting enough that I wasn’t bored, but there’s not enough beneath the surface to keep me invested. Geostorm is a fluff of a film. It’s certainly not good, but it’s not nearly as monumentally bad as one might expect. And it’s not The Snowman, either, which is a very good thing. There’s a droning narration during the start and end, matched with an ugly over-exposed colour grade, all culminating into a visual drab that violates the senses and fails to provide anything close to entertainment.
Or at least that’s until the finale kicks into gear. Ridiculous as it may be, there’s a lot of fun to be had once shit starts hitting the fan. The visual effects are impressive for the most part, even with the odd bit of cartoony graphics here and there, and they’re able to overshadow the film’s numbing performances and melodramatic writing. A sequence with an exploding drainpipe throughout Asia is probably the most fun element of the film, even though the filmmakers, for some reason, try to make that character a prominent focus for a little while after, all before giving up and returning to our actual protagonists (as one-dimensional as they may be).
The premise for Geostorm is ridiculous, constantly flooded with exposition, but once you get past the first twenty or so minutes, you’re able to roll with it. Then, once the twist is introduced and thoroughly explained, the premise looses you. Or at least it lost me. There’s a primary villain hovering throughout the plot and you’re stuck in a guessing game as to who it might be. I didn’t care enough to guess. It didn’t matter. But, once the reveal happens, it’s groan inducing. Their logic and reasoning for doing what they’re doing is beyond stupid, and surely there’s easier ways to accomplish their goals than risking the lives of the entire planet.
Maybe this film is actually amazing. The studios behind it didn’t hold critic screenings, which is never a good sign, but perhaps, since I can’t really remember what 100% did or didn’t happen in this film, it’s secretly brilliant. I’ll never know. And quite frankly, even if somebody paid me to, I don’t know if I’d want to sit through this again to find out.
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