REVIEW: "Geostorm" Mostly Typical Disaster Genre, but Deserves a Look for Special Effects, Hi-Tech Concept

by Tony Rutherford , HNN Entertainment Editor
REVIEW: "Geostorm" Mostly Typical Disaster Genre, but Deserves a Look for Special Effects, Hi-Tech Concept
Warner Bros.

This review starts with a warning --- I have a predisposition toward so-called "disaster" films. It's a campy weird film fetish --- a little Irwin Allen (known for Poseidon Adventure, Towering Inferno) and "end of the world" thrillers from the indie "Panic in Year Zero" to a haunting , still relevant On the Beach and China Syndrone and science-fiction dominated "Independence Day."

Before tackling "Geostorm," let me lay out the premise(s) that you likely know well: Some type of often man-made catastrophe occurs after rich dudes shrugged off warnings. During the set up, all kinds of characters and relationships overwhelm --- an "All My Ex's" or "All My Baggage" soap --- as the disaster warnings increase. Most of the relationships take up time before a big bang. A few lead personalities quell doom and fall in love. Lots of vows for new beginnings so such tragedies 'never happen again.'

Having run out of natural disasters , mutated mishaps, and stopping an insane demigod, the genre fell by the wayside. 

"Geostorm" partially overcomes certain formulas relying on technology failure and interstellar brand special effects, along with a few gender and family related quips. 

Anticipating a political global warming sermon , the film avoids that green issue allowing climatic events to inspire international cooperation to reduce extreme weather. Satellites tweak conditions preventing extremes. Something goes wrong. A  frozen Afghan  village signals trouble in the sky. 

However, the "Dutch Boy" (finger in the dike) weather satellite creator Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler) does not interact well with establishment controls and protocols. He prevented a typhoon but violated the chain of command. Before a Congressional inquiry, he has a campy, chirpy, contrived exchange of playful want to be romantic one-liners with secret service agent Sarah Wilson (Abbie Cornish) then induces a committee reprimand sending him packing to a Cocoa Beach trailer. 

Younger brother Max (Jim Sturgess) lures him back into space as the satellites have experienced two larger climatic events.

Proceeding with a shred of characters, the malfunctions reveal sabotage which swings a 'thriller' element, though you won't bite your nails. 

Outer space walks and station destruction inspire the near "Interstellar" quality effects --- minus the personal drama. Praise goes to maintaining the effects as functional, not commanding  separate 'star' treatment. 

High tension (pardon that pun) no, but "Geostorm's" a pleasurably entertaining watch , if you forgive the necessary formulas, to which the film makers inject political mutiny for a deviation. You've "seen" the basics over and over; the components slickly deliver them and avoid overly dwelling on any type of standard scene (i.e. the beach freeze, a tidal wave, high rises toppling sideways (not pancaking).

"Olympus Has Fallen"/"London Has Fallen" grad Butler resounds mostly when arguing with authority and siblings. Contrary to a NY Times review, his stubble doesn't influence his performance. Sturgess (Best Offer, Cloud Atlas, Across the Universe) has the right demeanor for a conflict resolver, and Ms. Cornish (Limitless, Sucker Punch) adds a touch of spice and fem heroism to the mix. 

Don't write it off --- despite the critical bashing --- unless you insist realism,  costume heroics, or C.G.I. as 50% of the film. 

Now, Darn. I forgot. While writing this review, I missed a re-run of Allen's TV series on ME TV, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. 

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