Believe it or not I was actually looking forward to seeing Geostorm, not for any good reasons, literally just because when the initial synopsis dropped it was the most hilariously nonsensical thing I’d read in a while. Geostorm marks the big screen directorial debut of Dean Devlin who you may recognise as the writer of a number of Roland Emmerich films including Independence Day (1996), Godzilla (1998), and Independence Day: Resurgence (2016). So if you think this movie looks Emmerich-esque now you know why. The plot follows Jake (Gerard Butler) who once created a world encompassing weather device that saved the planet from devastating natural disasters. Suddenly when the device begins to malfunction it’s up to Earth’s hero to save the planet again. Meanwhile there is a conspiracy unfolding behind the scenes where all may not be as it seems. If that sounds like a lot of ridiculous nonsense…… it’s because it is.
This disaster film was seemingly heading in the direction of becoming a disaster itself from the outset. With unfavourable reactions from early test screenings the film was pulled from its October 2016 release date and moved to January 2017, only to be moved once again to October 2017 to allow time for around $15M worth of reshoots. Reshoots aren’t always a bad thing, they supposedly turned an early not so great version of 2016’s Rogue One into a great film. But here, whatever was pulled together in these reshoots doesn’t really seem to have payed off. The attempts at forming human connections and emotional attachments between the various characters feels very forced and falls flat to the point where there is limited room to care for anyone other than maybe Gerard Butler. And honestly, much of the reason I gave a shit about Butler’s character here is because it’s Butler running around in a big and dumb action film which he always manages to sell with ease. He is decent in the movie and the one character related redeemable quality.
Everyone else in the film is serviceable at best, and I don’t blame any of the performers….. it really is the writing of these characters (helmed by Devlin and Paul Guyot) which is just bland and lazy. Jim Sturgess feels very miscast in his role as Butler’s brother but does his best to fit in, Abbie Cornish who plays Sturgess’ love interest just floats around and shows up when it’s convenient for the plot. Ed Harris and Andy Garcia show up in here and at best they’re just cashing in a quick paycheque, and I honestly don’t blame them. The film doesn’t offer up any surprises in terms of the progression of the plot and at times does take itself a little too seriously considering the subject matter. They just need to have a bit of fun with things sometimes, they do try to inject some subtle humour here and there but it doesn’t pay off at all.
The best part about the movie and the reason why it made plenty of money in international markets is the disaster element. Sometimes all people want to see are cities be destroyed by large scale unprecedented events and you do get that here. Honestly, the disaster element, albeit chaotic is for the most part actually quite visually impressive. The momentary disaster events that occur here and there are pretty intriguing and when shit goes down later in the film it’s quite entertaining seeing shit get destroyed. It may sound somewhat anarchic that I found enjoyment out of seeing cities being levelled but isn’t that the point of this genre of movies? If only there was more of that and a somewhat lighter tone I feel like this could have been a much better ride.
But in the end, lack of character depth and intrigue, and a plot that doesn’t offer much room for originality keep this thing from being that enjoyable. You know what, I will say that the combination of all of the elements that go into this plot is a somewhat original concoction, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good formulation. The disaster elements provide moments of brief entertainment and Gerard Butler helps to keep some investment in the film throughout to where throwing this thing on in the background will provide some nice background eye candy.