When the network of satellites designed to control the global climate starts to attack Earth, it’s a race against the clock for its creator to uncover the real threat before a worldwide Geostorm wipes out everything and everyone.
“Geostorm” was never screened in advance for the press and that is never a good sign. When a major studio claims that no critics will be permitted to any advance screenings of one of their movies before it opens, it doesn’t inspire confidence. But being perfectly honest, “Geostorm” wasn’t that bad. I think the problem lies with many film critics today in general. So many of them go to their screenings with a constant air of cynicism and a “woe is me” attitude that the movie they are going to review has already failed, at least in their eyes. And that is something I do not, and will not, ever understand. As a member of the press, to get an invite from any of the major or independent film studios to critique one of their upcoming movies is an honor because it is not easily achieved so when I get to cover a press screening, I am always excited, regardless of the film. The other aspect is that I have been an indie filmmaker for over thirty years so when I go to review a movie, it is never with a critical eye, rather, I go in like I used to as a kid, wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, enthusiastic at what I am about to see and because I understand the filmmaking process better than most other critics, I have a great appreciation for the finished product, good or bad. It is only after I have walked away from the screening that I then begin to formulate a critique of the film and take it from there.
I wanted to be a filmmaker as far back as seven years of age but it wasn’t movies like “Manchester by the Sea,” “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” or “The Post” that inspired me, it was “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Star Wars,” “The Towering Inferno,” and James Bond. Now don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for intriguing dramas and heartfelt coming-of-age stories but the big popcorn films that typically saturate movie theaters, especially during the summer months, are there for a reason, to entertain. Granted, some are fantastic, while others are less-than-stellar but overall, their sole mission is to simply enthrall and captivate and for me, “Geostorm” did exactly that.
Gerard Butler plays Jake Lawson, an architect who helped design “Dutch Boy,” a network of satellites that were created to help control the earth’s climate on a global scale after a series of extreme natural disasters around the globe. When it is discovered that everyone in a small village in Afghanistan froze to death and that the city of Hong Kong experienced hotter than normal temperatures, resulting in a firenado, wiping out a portion of the city, the President of the United States, Andrew Palma (Andy Garcia), informs Max Lawson (Jim Sturgess), who works under Secretary of State Leonard Dekkom (Ed Harris), to conduct an investigation as to what happened. Three years earlier Jake activated the satellites which prevented a typhoon from hitting Shanghai but because he didn’t wait for Dutch Boy’s sub-committee to vote on the issue, his brother Max had to fire him and take over his responsibilities, causing a rift between the two siblings but Max knows, better than anyone, if there is one person who can find out what is going on, it is Jake. Reluctantly, he swallows his pride and visits him and tells him what’s going on and while Jake has no intention of working under Max, he takes on the assignment under the guise that Max will be his boss, knowing that it will end up being the other way around.
When an engineer working on the International Climate Space Station (ICSS), the central control for all the satellites, is mysteriously blown out into space after retrieving data from the satellite that caused the Afghanistan village to freeze, Jake quickly realizes that the satellite, as well as the one which caused Hong Kong to go up in flames, were manually activated and the only person with that kind of control, is the President of the United States, Andrew Palma. When Max goes to his superior, Leonard Dekkom, the Secretary of State, and informs him of his findings, Leonard agrees to talk to the president but when Dekkom’s men try to assassinate Max and his fiancée Sarah Wilson (Abbie Cornish), a Secret Service agent, they realize that he is the traitor and take it upon themselves to kidnap the president after the Democratic National Convention in Orlando and inform him of what’s happening. With a countdown to a global and catastrophic Geostorm having already begun on the space station where Jake is, Max, Sarah and the president must try to figure out Dekkom’s motivation while Jake races to secure the earth with a reboot of ICSS but with the countdown nearing zero, time is of the essence, time they don’t have.
Granted, the story for “Geostorm” is not exactly character-driven but then again, this isn’t that kind of movie. When “Twister” came out in 1996, critics said the exact same thing but that movie has gone on to become a fan favorite. Given time, I think audiences will find that “Geostorm” is a popcorn-laden flick that set out to simply entertain and it achieves its goal. The special effects are convincing and it proves that just like “2012” and “The Day After Tomorrow,” audiences never tire of watching the earth succumb to natural disasters. The acting is solid and watching respected actors like Gerard Butler, Ed Harris, and Andy Garcia run around the world playing make-believe, can’t but help bring a smile to your face.
Now available on Digital HD and on Blu-ray & DVD January 23rd