Geostorm review: Independence Day and Stargate producer Dean Devlin gets his hands on the directorial reigns for this entertaining big-budget effort that carries an urgent message with it.
Geostorm review by Paul Heath.
What the world probably doesn’t need right now is a disaster movie, but a disaster movie is just what we’ve been handed with this big-budget event movie, strangely positioned for release well outside the summer window where you would almost certainly expect it to end up. However, Geostorm is not the film you expect it to be at all.
Scripted by Dean Devlin and Paul Guyot, who have found success recently on the TV series The Librarians, Geostorm is every bit the epic, schmaltzy, city-destroying popcorn movie you expect it to be, but it has an unexpected message running through its core.
The film opens a couple of years from now where we have absolutely destroyed our planet. The opening frames, featuring archive footage from news reels etc. is accompanied by a young girl’s voice telling us that we did not listen to the warnings, and now climate change is slowly destroying our planet. Amongst this we’re informed that the polar icecaps are all but gone, and 2 million people have been wiped out by a huge heatwave in Madrid in a single day. This concept sets-up the movie – its time frame immediately fast-forwarded on some more to introduce Gerard Butler’s character Jake Lawson, a scientist who just about saved the world by inventing a climate control device known as Dutchboy. This device is a series of satellites that stabilise climates all over the world, and is controlled by a group of scientists aboard the International Space Station.
When we meet Jake, we find him involved with a little legal trouble with the government, his character refusing to play by some of the rules, but we immediately know he’s a good guy with the best interest of the planet close to his heart. It’s here where me meet his younger brother Max (Jim Sturgess), someone with a much level-minded head on his shoulders, who has been instructed by Dutchboy’s board to fire his brother, which he does.
Related: Independence Day: Resurgence review
Fast forward another three years (this all happens within the first ten minutes of the film, so no spoilers) and we find Jake relocated to Florida, living an almost solitary life in a camper van next to the launch pads at Cape Canaveral. We see he has a daughter, whose voice we heard setting the scene earlier, but Jake now seemingly spends his days fixing up old cars and drinking beer in the morning – hey, every hour is happy hour at Jake’s place. All is not right in the world though, as it seems that somebody may have manages to turn Dutchboy into a weapon – and as a result, can wipe out the Earth, city by city. Of course, there’s only one man who can help, so Jake must venture back into space and save the day.
While Geostorm suffers from an unbelievably clichéd screenplay with some absolutely hum dinging lines of dialogue, it slowly manages to win us, the audience over. Butler is having the time of his life as the lead, and even though we question his character being the man who has saved the world by inventing a device that has single-handedly solve the climate change issue, and that he seems to be largely penniless with no thanks from the world’s united governments, it’s hard not to warm to his performance. Jim Sturgess too is given some terrible lines to try and gig something decent out of, but do it he does, and he shines alongside his co-star.
Most of the other impressive cast, including Andy Garcia (as the President) and Ed Harris as the Secretary of State, are largely wasted, but Abbie Cornish does a decent job as Sarah Wilson, a secret service agent who just so happens to be the fiancée to Max.
The film moves along at a decent enough pace, and while there are scenes of massive un-originality throughout, including a very predictable mystery as to who is the mastermind behind the attacks, it’s very difficult to have an enjoyable time with a film that is so obviously attempting to do what we expect it to do – which it does.
Devlin’s directorial debut will certainly not, ahem, set the world on fire but it certainly never offends. The film is full of 90’s movie fizz full of well-executed action set-pieces that, rather than add to the doom and gloom of today’s world, achieves a form of escapism not seen in any of this year’s rather lacklustre tent-poles.
Geostorm is absolutely a blockbuster film that should whet the appetites of most mainstream cinema audiences, while at the same time hopefully hammer home its message to the masses.
Geostorm review by Paul Heath, October 2017.
Geostorm is released in UK cinemas on Friday 20th October 2017.