(Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)
What is the bigger disaster? The geostorm in the movie, or the movie itself? Considering the geostorm in the movie only decimated CGI buildings whereas “Geostorm” wasted 100 minutes of actual peoples’ lives, the movie is the proper answer.
In the wake of massive destruction caused by natural disasters, Earth has come together to build a space station with the capability of controlling the weather. When the station starts to experience technical difficulties, an investigation is put under way that uncovers a world-threatening conspiracy.
When it comes to explaining how bad “Geostorm” is, no one has to look further than the first 10 minutes. After a narration by a character who will barely have any screen time that has a strange merger of scientific terms and childlike phrasing, the movie cuts to a senate hearing for the main character (Gerard Butler). On his way in, Butler runs into a man who gives the audience Butler’s entire backstory in an awkward dialogue exchange. Then, Butler gets into a verbal altercation with one senator (Richard Schiff) and gets fired. This scene sets up Schiff as a character who could cause conflict and earn karma by the movie’s end, but he never shows up again. It is poorly done and it lacks the fundamental understanding of generic disaster movie plots.
When it comes to disaster movies, there are overused clichés that show up in almost every one. “Geostorm” has these clichés, but it takes them to the apex of degrees. Several of the clichés that appear in the movie include: a main character who has a strained relationship with his child (Talitha Eliana Bateman), said child is a prop for the main character as opposed to an actual character, adult characters with relationship problems (Butler and Sturgess), a main character who was the best at his job who is now brought back to deal with the main issue, manipulative scenes of a dog in harms way to make the audience care, and many more.
Just like the story elements themselves, the characters are as cliché as they come. Instead of having actual personalities, every character is defined by their arc, motivation or title. Butler needs to make up with Jim Sturgess and do better by his daughter. Jim Sturgess has relationship issues with his girlfriend (Abbie Cornish). The president (Andy Garcia) is the president. All of the characters are uninteresting and it is predictable what each one will do over the course of the movie.
In the defense of the cast, the actors all do their best with the blank slates they have been given to work with. Butler is charismatic and likable on screen, Cornish is believable as a stoic secret service agent, and Ed Harris is a blast to watch as always.
As a disaster flick marketing itself as a movie where all the world’s most severe weather wreaks havoc on the planet, one would think that the action and disaster sequences would be good. If one were to think that, one would be wrong. While there is a diversity of disasters from a mega tsunami that topples skyscrapers to a blizzard that freezes an airplane and makes it fall from the sky, the audience gets to see very little of these events. Almost all of the weather destruction is either shown in brief clips in the last 20 minutes of the movie. The only two that are not shown like that and the audience actually gets to experience barely work because of the numerous coincidences that befall the characters in order to help them survive.
Coincidences are not just used to keep the characters alive, they are also used to move the story from beat to beat. The mystery plot aboard the space station is not going anywhere? Well, Butler and gang are going to find a piece of evidence that someone should have noticed before to keep things going along. It goes along like this for the entire runtime, which means that if coincidences did not exist then Gerard Butler would have been standing on a space station for 100 minutes with no idea what to do.
In all honesty, “Geostorm” feels like the first draft of a script that would get expanded upon later, and the studio just decided to roll with. The characters are not developed, the story is predictable and propelled by coincidences and it is littered with disaster movie clichés and tropes.
Final Grade: D