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Review: ‘Geostorm’ (2017)

What we have here is an FX-extravanganza of a disaster movie starring Gerard Butler. That sentence alone should tell you exactly what kind of movie you are in for. You instantly know whether or not this kind of moviemaking’s brand of nonsense is up your alley. As someone who counts himself a fan of both old school Irwin Allen-style disaster pictures (The Poseidon Adventure, Earthquake, The Towering Inferno) and the equally-entertaining ’90s run (Twister, Armageddon, Dante’s Peak), this is my kind of silly natural disaster-fueled cinema.

So how does Geostorm stack up to such efforts? Not particularly well, I’m afraid. This latest jaunt into disaster movie territory unfortunately skews more towards the recent likes of Into the Storm and San Andreas than it does the more classical fare of the past. The FX look are fun and the expected cataclysmic events are a sight to behold, but the script is a mess. Furthermore, the rather packed cast looks mostly bored throughout the film’s running time. Even Captain Scenery-Chewing himself, Gerard Butler, feels like he’s aimlessly collecting a paycheck here. The most interesting thing about his character (and possibly the film as a whole) is the strange combo-trailer home that he lives in. It looks like he’s welded three mobile homes together to create a weird, metallic ranch-style house. If only the man had been as odd as his abode, I might have connected with the tale more.

That’s a shame, but given this project’s troubled history, I can’t say I’m too surprised. Originally shot from late 2014 to early 2015, Geostorm had a rough ride through post-production. Reshoots in mid-2015 didn’t help matters and production resumed again in late 2016 under the command of a different director (Judge Dredd‘s Danny Cannon), a different producer (Jerry Bruckheimer), and a new writer (Laeta Kalogridis). One imagines what director Dean Devlin’s original version of the film played like. Regardless, whatever they changed, it wasn’t enough to salvage the project. As is, it is nothing more than a political thriller with gonzo disaster movie trappings.

Geostorm might not be a disaster as a film, but it fails to get your blood pumping with both its over-the-top spectacle and its more human-based thrills. For a movie whose primary purpose is to accomplish both of those things, that’s a problem. It’s not terrible, but it’s a real waste of a fun concept and a good cast. Better luck next time, Mr. Devlin! As for audiences? If you want a wacky weather action flick, seek out the 1998 superspy movie The Avengers. It’s exactly the kind of dumb fun that you were hoping to get out of this movie.

Geostorm is an original disaster film. It was directed by Dean Devlin, from a screenplay by Paul Guyot and Dean Devlin. The film was produced by David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, and Dean Devlin. It stars Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Alexandra Maria Lara, Ed Harris, Andy Garcia, Zazie Beetz, Talitha Bateman, Eugenio Derbez, Robert Sheehan, Daniel Wu, and Richard Schiff.

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