Geostorm (2017) Review

The fate of humanity lies on the two estranged Lawson brothers, troubled scientist Jake (Gerard Butler) and Max (Jim Sturgess), who end up working together to stop a worldwide geostorm following a malfunctioned weather-controlling defence system a.k.a. the “Dutch Boy” from the outer space.

Just when I thought Roland Emmerich has milked the disaster movie dry enough to give the genre a rest, his frequent collaborator/producing partner Dean Devlin apparently wants a piece of the action as well. The result is Geostorm, a big-budget disaster movie that supposedly marked the directorial debut of Dean Devlin (best known for producing Stargate and Independence Day). But the movie was famously plagued with troubled production history, especially after poor test screenings which forced the studio (Warner Bros.) to withhold the original 2016 release date in favour for an extensive reshoot under the guidance of director Danny Cannon (TV’s CSI and Gotham) and uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

Unfortunately, even with their inputs to help salvage whatever mess that Devlin caused earlier, Geostorm feels like a leftover made to look like a high-profile SyFy blockbuster. First of all, the special effects which are heavily used to create a motley of CGI natural disaster from tidal waves to tornadoes, are disappointingly spotty in places. If anything, the extended CGI-heavy scene where satellite expert Cheng (Daniel Wu) escaped the Hong Kong city after a massive gas leak triggered a series of underground explosion, is the least entertaining moment worth mentioning here.

The story, which is co-written by Devlin alongside Paul Guyot (TV’s The Librarians, NCIS: New Orleans), basically rehashes most of the disaster-movie formulas that we have seen many times before. In fact, watching Geostorm feels like you are sitting through the late 1990s all over again where movies like the aforementioned Independence Day, Twister, Deep Impact and Armageddon used to dominate the Hollywood cinema back then. Except, this time, such a recycled story becomes shopworn. As expected, there are plenty of one-liners as well, even though most of them are either cheesy or trying hard to be funny.

Still, not everything is bad in Geostorm. At least Devlin and Guyot did attempt to mix up the otherwise cliché-ridden disaster picture with a fairly intriguing political-thriller/action-movie undertone, something that is barely marketed in the trailers.

The cast is also decent enough, with kudos go to Gerard Butler alongside Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish and even minor performances from Daniel Wu, Andy Garcia (playing none other than US president), Ed Harris and Talitha Bateman (who plays Jake Lawson’s level-headed adolescent daughter).

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