Susan Granger’s review of “Geostorm” (Warner Bros.)
Back in 1970 when “Airport” was released, it got terrible reviews but made more than 10 times its budget at the box-office. Then came “The Poseidon Adventure,” “Earthquake” and “The Towering Inferno.”
Disaster movies are a campy genre. There’s not much character development and they’re certainly not subtle. But they have to seem relevant at the time. During the past few months, natural catastrophes – “extreme weather events” like hurricanes, floods and wildfires – have wreaked so much devastation. That’s part of the problem with “Geostorm.”
Set in the early 2020s, nations of the world have joined together to fight the effects of climate change. Under the aegis of the United States, there’s now an international satellite system to control the weather. It’s called “Dutch Boy” after the Dutch lad who plugged a hole in the dike with his finger.
Although it was designed by hotshot scientist Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler), his obnoxious arrogance and temper have led to his dismissal, leaving his estranged younger brother, Max (Jim Sturgess), a State department bureaucrat, in charge until oversight is transferred to a global coalition.
But then something goes terribly wrong. A desert village in Afghanistan is suddenly frozen, along with a beach resort in Rio. Extreme heat ignites Hong Kong. A tsunami engulfs Dubai. Lightning strikes Orlando. And when investigators on the space station try to find the cause of the malfunction, they’re killed.
When an apocalyptic geostorm seems inevitable, Jake is dispatched to fix Dutch Boy. Meanwhile, in Washington, Max and his Secret Service agent girl-friend, Sarah Wilson (Abbie Cornish), deal with a sabotage conspiracy involving the Secretary of State (Ed Harris) and President (Andy Garcia).
The campy, cliché-riddled script by Paul Guyot and director Dean Devlin is absurdly contrived. Too many peripheral characters appear and disappear, meaning the audience has little investment in their survival.
And while Butler and Sturgess develop a superficial camaraderie, they totally lack the charisma necessary to overcome the scientifically improbable predicament they face.
So on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Geostorm” is a schlocky 6, a miscalculated cataclysm crippled by bad timing.