Geostorm (2017) (Review)

Geostorm could have been a lot of fun. Its first teaser-trailer was rather effective, exhibiting some immense barminess that allows these end-of-the-world disaster films to operate most efficiently. As a slice of fun, dumb entertainment, Geostorm could have cooked up a storm. Now, excuse my French, but the only type of storm Geostorm is, is a sh*t storm of the dullest, most eye-gouging proportion.

Dean Devlin's feature-length directorial debut sees Mr Gerald Butler's Jake Lawson attempt to save the world from a potentially earth-destroying storm, caused by malfunctioning climate-controlling satellites. Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Ed Harris, Alexandra Maria Lara, Andy Garcia and Robert Sheehan star alongside Butler in this mind-numbing, abysmal and pain dreadful excuse of a film, in which everyone involved should be ashamed of. Long-delayed and continually-shelved, it is easy to see why Warner Bros rejected the film to the very pits of their schedule for so long.

Easily one of the year's absolute worst, Geostorm fails in every single area. Honestly, Warner Bros earned this stain against their name the minute the fatal decision to cast a new, barely-qualified director reigns to a $120 million production was made. Without the experience, guidance or skills to execute a film even approaching adequacy, Dean Devlin (who also produces and writes the piece) crumbles under the pressure of taking on such an overwhelming undertaking. His direction is directionless, with bizarre framing decisions and uncomfortable angles utilised to help cover up the fact the post-production team have attempted to salvage the piece with dubbing (presumably with a better script at hand, as hard as that is to believe).

It attempts to emulate many-a-successful disaster films through a paint-by-numbers formula, but fails in spite of the incredibly predictable structure utilised for guidance. Considering this has all been done, in not particularly impressive films, Devlin worsens these tricks further, culminating in an embarrassing feature-length that should be scrubbed from memory. Can Butler's Lawson work on that next please?

Visually, it's an empty spectacle magnified to eye-gouging scale by some atrocious special effects. At times it can be passable - but all those moments can be glimpsed in that first teaser trailer, and the remainder is downright atrocious. At one moment, a giant tidal wave approaches Saudi Arabia (maybe? I'm not definite on that, my eyes were busy bleeding) and it honest-to-goodness looks like an effect lifted straight from Windows Movie Maker, rather than something one of Hollywood's major studios, handling a nine-digit budget, have actively paid for. Substandard at very, very best, at least the film is consistent in being a mess on all fronts. 

From the very second the exposition-heavy, poorly-written voiceover opens Geostorm, the metaphorical writing was on the wall and Devlin's actual writing was on the floor, belonging in the nearest rubbish bin available. If the extraordinarily awful reviews weren't already an indicator and - like me - you wanted to make your own decision, those opening 30 seconds confirm that you are in for pretty torrid time with this one; heartbreakingly, it gets no better either. One sequence, possibly the very worst of the year, sees a computer-wiz cut down a lengthy speech to the precise words required to string together a wordy warning about sabotage and danger, at the touch of a button. Not only is the convoluted plan vapid plot advancements in the history of plot advancements, but it insults the audience terribly. Being subjected to this level of undermining paying consumers made me not want to go the cinema again. Genuinely.

Laughable dialogue and writing induces eye-rolls at every turn, failing even the very basics in storytelling. Whether its the flat characters, cringeworthy encounters, the nonchalant indulgence in genre conventions or predictable narrative tropes, Devlin's script (co-written with Paul Guyot) is a melting pot on how to destroy a once interesting idea. I genuinely struggle to comprehend that this was the final product and not an incredibly awful first or second draft. Absolutely no care to provoke meaningful relationships, a substantial story or layered characters can be evidenced here; it is as if they surrendered to the idea that this was conceptualised for no other reason than to hopefully create a new Gerald Butler-led franchise on the back of his 'Has Fallen' success.

However, the biggest catastrophe here (of, as you can tell by now, many) is the disastrous pacing and pervading dullness. Watching this film again is less preferably than watching paint dry, or grass grow, and undoubtedly a cheaper, less frustrating experience. Crushingly dull, utterly soulless and unintentionally laughable, it drags its heels from start to finish. A telltale sign of a writer out of his depth, struggling to string together a remotely coherent piece, it tires to paint-by-numbers and borrow from elsewhere, but fails even that. I have never walked out of a film, but I can dangerously close here (and, on reflection, I wish I had). Bored out of my skull and holding out for that moment I stepped back into the torrential rain, downpour and winds of Dudley, Birmingham, few films have every pushed me to this level of apathy. It's a total slog that should be used as an anaesthetic in local hospitals.

Lacking any definition or clarity in plot and lacking insightfulness towards its subject matter (climate change), Geostorm operates only as another exhibition for Butler's action star 'skills' - and it's embarrassing even by his standards. He surely has another mindless action picture in the pipeline and it won't dent his career too much but some effort would have been appreciated. When he's not looking smug or racing around a preposterous space station, he's... well, I'm not sure what he's doing to be honest. How he was ever the one qualified to oversee this 'Dutchboy' experiment escapes me, likely because the script was cutting corners and dodging the need to explain anything that happens.

Unconvinced of Jim Sturgess' leading man credentials anyway, this is not the type of film he should be leading if push came to shove. He looks lifeless at times, although his relationship with Jake's daughter, played by Tabitha Bateman, is more convincing than the one with her on-screen father; Bateman is pretty poor herself with some contrived emotion; while Abbie Cornish provides a laboured performance as the kick-ass female the film fights to make her out to be.

Zazie Beetz is promising but her attempt at comedy feels forced and unnatural; Robert Sheehan, an actor of fine talent, performs with a horrendous, unrecognisable accent; Andy Garcia is force-fed some woeful one-liners that could be lifted from anyone 'save the President from this uncontrollable threat' movie; and Ed Harris performs with the least amount of subtlety you've seen in your life. These poor performances should probably be attributed more to the script that pushes all these actors into an inescapable corner - but they took on the project, so they take on the brunt of these issues. 

Geostorm is a car crash of a film. An unmitigated disaster of the dullest. You owe it to yourself, your friends and your family to warn them about the soul-destroying Geostorm. It is your moral duty to prevent those you know and love from subjecting themselves to this abysmal excuse of a film. It could have been a so-bad-its-good flick, frothy and disposable, but instead it commits every film-making sin in the book and crushes your film-loving soul in the process.

Oh, and it ends on a narration as god-awful as the opening narration.


Summary: It is your moral duty as an upstanding citizen of this fine world to prevent those you know and love from subjecting themselves to the abysmal, mind-numbing and soul-destroying Geostorm. Worst film of the year? Very probably.