Is 'Geostorm' is bad as everyone says? Yes, and we're all the better for it.
Before we go anywhere, let’s untruck a harsh reality:
This is not a standard film review. The advance word on “Geostorm” has been negative for some time. For months bad movie lovers have anticipated this release with elan. (ed. Note: The writer has anticipated this release.) It’s been assumed this would be a bad movie. After viewing this title it has been confirmed.
It is not good. So much for the “review” portion.
Just for fairness, this will be a spoiler-rich assessment. I will be laying out the reasons this failed for one purpose: to encourage viewing it.
Dollars Circling the Drain
There are numerous categories and levels of bad movie viewing, but the $120 million budgeted “Geostorm” is the kind of flop I savor the most:
The “Massive Hollywood Failure”
If one were to compare bad films to food, the big-budget studio misfire is like a buffet line of savory goodness. Or, badness, as it were.
The film began life more than three years ago. Dean Devlin — a frequent collaborator with disaster maestro Roland Emmerich — writes, directs, and produces this affair.
While he seemed to learn how to destroy landmarks under Rollie what he also picked up was Emmerich’s aversion to cogent script writing. All his plot beats and expositional dialogue are mere setup for the computer-generated visuals.
Common sense, scientific veracity and natural dialogue are all dispatched for expedient CGI display. The studio, realizing it had a mess, temporarily shelved the film. Large amounts of new scenes were ordered to be filmed with a new director.
It was to no avail.
RELATED: Director Danny Cannon of “Judge Dredd” fame helmed the “Geostorm” reshoots overseen by uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer.
The opening weekend results were dismal, with $13.3 million earned. That means it took in less than the cost of just those reshoots. So just what caused this epic to flame out?
What we are served is an environmental cautionary tale, and then we get every reason to ignore the lecture as those delivering it prove they are both under educated on the subject and in over their heads.
Immediately the ineptitude is in effect: We get a voice over, delivered by a child, no less, about how the planet was besieged by weather events. Then the United Nations is displayed as the source of our salvation.
I know – I told you, ineptitude.
The solution? A consortium of nations build a space weather control network – dubbed “Dutch Boy” – that is operated from a weather space station. This is a literal web of thousands of interconnected satellites controlling the aspects of storm systems – heat, pressure and moisture.
Say a hurricane wells up – the nearest satellite dispatches hundreds of probes into the storm, which soon dissipates. All the world becomes a climatological Utopia.
We learn that, like the Panama Canal, the US is operating things but it will turn over control in three years. Next, despite being told a collection of nations gets credit for Dutch Boy, we hear one man is responsible for the entire operation being completed and operating perfectly – Gerard Butler!
RELATED: DVD Autopsy – ‘Monster Trucks’
Butler’s Jake is hauled before a Congressional hearing to be lectured over insubordination. Dutch Boy works, and has saved tens of thousands of lives, so naturally the one man responsible gets fired from his position.
He is then replaced by his brother, Max (Jim Sturgess), who is on the White House staff and is secretly dating a Secret Service agent. (That seems…convenient.) All the pathos is now properly set up.
The dubious science is now set to become completely bat-crap inane. Jumping ahead three years we follow a United Nations convoy in the desert. They encounter a village beset by a thermal anomaly. The residents are completely frozen where they were standing.
This weather condition is localized to just the village because that is how weather works! (Further, the UN team walks amid the sub zero scene wearing zero protective covering.) In Washington we learn one satellite in the network failed, instantly leading to this impossible weather event.
President Andy Garcia is worried about turning over a flawed network to the UN (before they can have the chance to screw it up). Chief of Staff Ed Harris tells Max to get his brother back to fix things. Max visits Jake, who is brilliant but has a problem with authority, so like others of his personality type he lives in a trailer. Jake hates his brother for undermining him, but he is convinced to come back and fix Dutch Boy.
Here Come the Eye Rolls
Throughout this affair there are numerous touches of ineptitude that bring a smile. When Hong Kong is being pulverized all vehicles are destroyed, save that driven by a main character — a Smart Car that outruns a Humvee.I will be laying out the reasons this failed for one purpose: to encourage viewing it.Click To Tweet
Later Jake is the lone passenger of one of the shuttles in a fleet (that are housed outdoors, mind you) to go to the space station. NASA could have saved millions had he been on board the shuttle that lifted off as he arrived hours earlier that day. And after selling us that Jake is globally famous for his work on the weather station he is introduced to a team of experts who have never heard of him – on the weather station!
Working with the station commander it soon becomes apparent there is tampering going on. We watch as Max and his Hong Kong friend are blocked from system access by whomever is tampering things. Even Jake cannot access the secret backdoor channel into the database, something he built and that only he knew about. That is how comprehensive the knowledge is of the saboteur! (Er, somehow.) From here we descend into abject idiocy.
Whenever one of the thousands of satellites goes down a bad meteorological event transpires, instantaneously, because that is how weather works. We see in Rio that cold air comes in the form of an advancing force that you can run away from, like fleeing a psycho killer in a horror film. It is realized there is a virus planted in the mainframe. It is discovered the President is NOT the one responsible, as suspected, but it is actually Harris’s character.
Anyway, Jake is left behind as the station is evacuated during a self-destruct phase. This means we are served TWO separate countdown timers: one for the self-destruct, and one for when the satellites are corrupted and the Geostorm will be KNOWN to occur, since that is exactly how weather works!
The Solution is as Dumb as You Expect
Jake hits on the solution to flush out the virus by rebooting the system; because a complex network of thousands of satellites and all of their mainframe support networks across the planet all operate just like your WiFi router in the den.
Well, I’m probably not spoiling much to say, he was successful — after all, we are all here and alive, so…of course. Turns out Harris had grand designs on the White House, and he weaponized the satellite network to become President.
You may think that sounds ludicrous. More ludicrous is Harris bringing in Butler to thwart this plot…set in motion by Harris! Anyway, these satellites are so powerful that as soon as they are back online the waters in Dubai begin to receded instantaneously. Butler’s Dutch Boy is THAT good. Because HE is that good!
This movie on the other hand is, to employ a weather phrase, is the polar opposite of good. And for that reason I could not recommend it enough.