Author: Gus Baker
Ignore the Critics
This past weekend I subscribed to movie pass (which by the way is completely worth the money) and decided to use my first ticket on the much maligned Geostorm because hey, I wasn’t paying. Critics have been ruthless towards Geostorm, which currently holds a paltry 15% on Rotten Tomatoes. Due to the film’s hefty production and marketing budgets, Geostorm will need a miracle to even break even. But is Geostorm really as bad as the numbers indicate? I’m here to tell you that no, it’s not as bad as the critics say and that if you are a fan of the sci-fi genre, you should give Geostorm a chance.
Advertised as a disaster film along the lines of 2012 or The Day after Tomorrow, a more accurate genre for Geostorm would be a political/space thriller with a disaster sub-theme. While this may sound a bit ridiculous, it’s actually what makes the movie pretty great. Geostorm has the feeling of a Sci-Fi channel original movie with a blockbuster sized budgets. This leads to all the pseudo-science, exaggerated characters, and ridiculous yet predictable plot lines of low-budget sci-fi with slightly better acting and significantly better special effects. While critics have chastised the film for its political message, which basically amounts to drawing parallels between climate change and World War II, the film doesn’t take itself too seriously. So, while the politics do drive the plot, the message isn’t intrusive and doesn’t distract from the excellent special effects.
Butler Delivers A Solid Performance
Gerard Butler stars as Jake Lawson, the quintessential yet paradoxical low-budget sci-fi hero who is equal parts genius engineer and beer drinking every-man. Lawson is the lead designer of Dutch Boy, the international space station designed to combat climate control by stopping natural disasters before they happen. In a cruel twist of fate, he is relieved as commander of Dutch Boy when he breaks protocol to save a community from a sudden disaster. Naturally this leads catastrophe, as during Lawson’s absence Dutch Boy is hacked by an unknown enemy who turns it into a global weapon. This leaves the government with no choice but to beg Lawson to come out of retirement, in which he has fallen into a rut wrought with drinking, divorce, and numerous other clichés.
In all Butler does well in the role of Lawson despite the sub-par and often cheesy dialogue. Jim Sturgess, who plays Jake’s brother Max, also gives a solid performance. The dynamic between the brothers is one of the better character relationships in the film, and feels more meaningful than any of Jake’s other relationships. Ed Harris does a fine job as Secretary of State Leonard Dekkom, in the type of role that is typical for him these days. Dekkom is a character we’ve seen in sci-fi movies since the genre’s inception which leaves Harris’s performance feeling stale and overplayed. As far as women go, the movie generally falls short. Alexandra Maria Lara’s Ute Fassbender serves little purpose other than to be the painfully forced love interest of Lawson, and serves little purpose other than to show up in the clutch to open a door for Jake (yes really) in what is perhaps the worst callback to an earlier scene I’ve ever seen in cinema (watch it and you’ll understand). Lawson’s daughter Hannah seems spunky and smart, having inherited her father’s skill as an engineer, but her character is under developed. The one exception is Secret Service Agent Sarah Wilson, played by Abbie Cornish. Wilson is a no-nonsense agent with a good head on her shoulders. She is strong, decisive, never over-sexualized and has one of the better car chase scenes I’ve seen this side of Baby Driver.
Overall, I found Geostorm to be thoroughly entertaining and I fully recommend it to anybody who grew up loving low budget sci-fi flicks. The film is at its best during the numerous vignettes of natural disasters across the world, such as a heat wave in Moscow, hail in Honk Kong, or a tidal wave in Dubai (my personal favorite). The outer space scenes are equally epic and look stellar on the big screen. Unfortunately, the film’s ending left me less than satisfied, which cost it in my final rating. Without giving away the details, the film passes on a prime opportunity to subvert one of the genre’s ubiquitous troupes of the invincible hero, instead opting for the ending everyone expects. Despite its undeniable flaws Geostorm is far better than critics are giving it credit for. So as long as you don’t go in expecting too much, you’re likely to find Geostorm surprisingly enjoyable.
Overall Rating 6.5/10