Reeling It In: ‘Geostorm’ a disaster of a disaster flick

This image released by Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. shows Gerard Butler in a scene from “Geostorm”(Ben Rothstein/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. via AP)

“Geostorm”

 

Warner Bros.

1 hour, 49 minutes

This week I didn’t make it out to the theater, not that there was a lot of choice out there. Both theaters were still showing “Jumanji,” and both theaters had the new Chris Hemsworth war movie, “12 Strong,” as well. “12 Strong” doesn’t look bad, necessarily, just like a movie from the mid-90s that was just recently discovered and released. I’ll probably see it eventually, though, considering that whatever cold war that seems to be going on between the two theaters in town doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

Instead of going to a first-run film, I decided to catch up on a release I missed back in October. “Geostorm” is a disaster movie from director Dean Devlin, a name you might recognize from “Independence Day” or “Godzilla,” a resume that makes him one for three on good disaster movies. That is, of course, unless you count “Flyboys,” which he produced, but that movie is a disaster of a whole other kind.

Let’s not sugarcoat it. “Geostorm” is bad. Aggressively bad, in fact. This film is crying out for “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” I wish I’d seen this in the theater with a crowd of friends, instead of curled up in my easy chair alone, with no one to make snarky comments to. Generally, I like disaster movies, good or bad, so there are definitely things about the film that I enjoyed, but the ill-fated choice to add shoot-outs and car chases to the already preposterous apocalyptic plot drives this film into near unwatchable status.

The only reason I decided to watch it, aside from the advertising showing tsunamis swallowing cities (I’m a sucker for that sort of thing, although maybe I should rethink considering the earthquake that just recently struck outside of Kodiak), was the inclusion of Ed Harris to the mix. Ed Harris is one of my favorite actors, and I dread the day he decides he’s too old to do this anymore.

Unfortunately, even Harris couldn’t save this dreck. He plays the Secretary of State to Andy Garcia’s President, but neither of them get enough to do. Mostly because all the oxygen in the room is taken up by Gerard Butler, playing Jake Lawson, genius engineer, who, along with a coalition of nations, built a global network of weather controlling satellites as a way to combat the devastating effects of climate change.

Dutch Boy, as the network is called, is controlled from the International Space Station, but three years in, not by Jake anymore. Deemed a hothead with a problem with authority, Jake has been replaced by his smoother, less confrontational brother, Max. But when a mysterious sabotage causes Dutch Boy to freeze an entire Afghani village solid, Jake is the only one they can turn to. Now it’s a race to the finish line before a cascading series of intentional malfunctions causes the world to descend into one, big, self-feeding superstorm — a geostorm! At one point there’s even a countdown clock, ticking off the minutes until the titular geostorm.

What’s bad about the film? You could start with the script, which gives Butler — not a great actor to begin with — some of the most cringeworthy lines of all time to deliver. Second, the plot is pretty dumb. Again, why the shootouts? Is a geostorm not enough bad guy for you?

There are plot holes you could drive a truck through, but honestly, it’s the film’s laziness that really drives home the point. It doesn’t even bother to be imaginative. We are however many years in the future, with a thriving weather industry that requires dozens of space shuttle launches a week. And yet, these shuttles are all being lifted by single-stage rocket engines — just like today! There’s row upon row of these monster rockets and, instead of coming up with some kind of new way of getting to space, they just stick with the old, fossil fuel based system.

When things go wrong on the satellite, naturally there are “kill codes” here on Earth, in the possession of the President, but because the writers wanted a reason to put Butler in mortal danger (I’m all about that), they made it so that, in order to implement the kill switch you have to have a man on site to manually implement the kill order to actually stop “Dutch Boy.”

What is the point of having kill codes, if you can’t actually use them? Sigh — there’s too much like that to go on.

Suffice it to say that “Geostorm” is like a mash up of movies like “The Core,” “The Day After Tomorrow,” and “2012,” but without any of the logic behind those scenarios.

Actually, if I had to pick a true analogy, it would be to compare “Geostorm” to one of the fake trailers in front of the classic “Tropic Thunder.” In “Scorcher” Ben Stiller’s character portrays “the one man who could save the world, five times” is about to “do it again in ‘Scorcher 6: Global Meltdown.’”

That’s a fake movie, by the way, but I can just see Gerard Butler, facing down a tsunami in hero pose. The movie is so bad, but if you enjoy disaster movies, I guess you could do worse. How, I’m not sure, but surely there’s a worse disaster movie.

Grade: D+

“Geostorm” is rated PG-13 for language, and some violence.

Chris Jenness is an art teacher, freelance graphic designer, artist and movie buff who lives in Nikiski.

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