Here’s a sentence that will surprise no one: That movie where Gerard Butler fights a super storm sucks. The film didn’t screen for critics and likely won’t be discussed as the disaster that it is since it came out on the week when everyone wants to declare ‘The Snowman’ the worst movie ever made. (It’s not, but it is embarrassing for all involved.) However, at least ‘The Snowman’ is amusing in its ineptitude. ‘Geostorm’ is boring in its failings, a far worse fate for a pile of Hollywood tentpole crap. If you’re going to suffer through a bad movie, you want to at least have a good time. None of that here.
It all starts in a very timely way that allowed ‘Independence Day’ screenwriter Dean Devlin to pat himself on the back for doing good. The tale takes place a few years in the future, a time when global warming has gotten so bad that wild storms and extreme weather are out of control. (See! This stupid movie is actually social commentary, and if you don’t like it you’re a climate change denier and a damn fool!) Gerard Butler plays a super smart scientist (chortle) named Jake. He has devised a special system known as “The Dutch Boy Program,” a global satellite network that can control the weather and protect those below. Unfortunately, he’s a wild card and loses control of the company to his younger brother, Max (Sturgess). Bad timing too. The system starts to malfunction and bad weather soon terrorizes the planet. It becomes clear that an evildoer is involved, messing with the system and perpetuating the tragedy. But who? Only action hero/scientist Butler can find out, and the conspiracy may stretch all the way to the White House, run by President Andy Garcia. (Ooo! How political!)
If you’re wondering why a studio somehow thought that Butler and Sturgess still had the juice to headline a tentpole, that’s because this flick was originally shot three years ago and has been sitting on a shelf. On the one hand, that’s weird because this whole climate change thing is perennially timely and (at least in theory) audiences love watching stuff get smashed and destroyed on a grand scale. However, there’s a good reason why Warner Brothers barely even released ‘Geostorm’ years after completion – it’s shockingly boring. Disaster movies aren’t generally high art or defined by a subtle grasp of the dynamics of human relationships, but this one is particularly rough to sit through. It’s an insult to cardboard to describe these embarrassingly dull characters that way. They have nothing in the way of personality, and no matter how hard the cast scowls or leans into pseudoscience kinda sorta but not really related to our own current climate pains, there’s no way to make them feel human or exciting.
Having helped define the contemporary disaster film formula by writing all the early Roland Emmerich pictures, writer/director Devlin leans into a familiar playbook. A large collection of human stereotypes and walking clichés are introduced to bump into each other during a seemingly endless setup. It’s impossible to care about any of them and the shoehorned attempts at cultural relevancy are laughably naïve in ways that not even Fox News could exaggerate. Once the chain reaction of bad weather disaster finally kicks off, the movie has some sweeping effects scenes, but even those look like cartoony test FX for a bigger and better movie. It’s all very lame, obvious, dull, and drawn out.
Of course, that’s kind of what you expect from these sorts of things. It would have been forgivable if the movie was at least endearingly insane trash. Sadly, that’s not the case. As tempting as it is to giggle at everyone on screen treating Gerard Butler as a genius scientist, the mess of a movie doesn’t even invite campy laughs. ‘Geostorm’ is simply too dreary and predictable for that. We’ve all been here too many times before to find any fun in it. That even seems true of Devlin, who despite making his feature film directorial debut on a grand scale in a genre he helped revive, seems just as bored and disinterred as his audience.
This movie is a product of people going through the motions assuming that if they repeat the past, it’ll lead to success. Well, it’s pretty clear now that won’t happen. The perfunctory and barely advertised release of ‘Geostorm’ is merely a brief stop before the film vanishes completely into obscurity where it belongs and will never annoy anyone again.