In the 90s, no one destroyed the world better than Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich. With Devlin producing and Emmerich directing, they gave us Universal Soldier, Stargate, Independence Day (their best) and Godzilla (Their worst).
In Geostorm, Devlin strikes out on his own as the director of a new global crisis movie. In the near future, as Climate Change continues to make giant storms and natural disasters even stronger, scientists, lead by Jake Lawson, create a satellite web or net above the earth that can dissappate these giant storms, saving hundreds of lives. The system comes to be known as “Dutch Boy” after the tale of the little dutch boy who put his finger in a dam to save a town from flooding. Jake however, is a bit of a hothead, and the suits in Washington replace him with his younger brother Max, who is working for Secretary of State Leonard Dekkom. Three years later, the system is due to be handed over from U.S. control to Global control, and things start to go a little fishy.
One of the satellites malfunctions over Afghanistan, abruptly freezing everyone in a village to death. President Andrew Palma, concerned because it’s an election year, agrees with Dekkom that they hire their own crew to research the malfunction so that the system is running properly before being handed over to the world.
Max relunctantly agrees with them to bring in Jake, who has been puttering around in Florida with his daughter (on the weekends he has custody). After some fairly standard cinematic brotherly family drama – Jake agrees to go back up to the International Space Station to figure out the issue. Meanwhile, another satellite malfunctions, superheating Hong Kong and nearly wiping out Max’s scientist friend Cheng, who is working on the Hong Kong end of Dutch Boy.
Cheng does some research and comes to find out – shocker – Dutch Boy is being manually sabotaged, and rushes to tell Max in person, since he swiftly realizes he’s being chased. Jake discovers basically the same thing on the space station and sends a coded message to Max to confirm what Max learned from Cheng. The clock starts ticking down to a ‘Geostorm’, a giant cataclysmic storm that will basically be a planetary extinction event, as Dutch Boy begins to go offline due to a pile of simultaneous issues, including a virus and the Space Station self-destruct sequence. Jake has to work with the crew on the space station to find the virus in the system and the saboteur, while Max partners with his secret service girlfriend, Sarah, to get the kill codes for the system directly from the president, all while attempting to track the conspiracy to its origin, which of course, goes up to the highest levels.
The storyline is not original, you can pretty much predict who caused the issues early on, but that’s almost not the point of this movie – the point is the spectacle. Unfortunately, that falls a little flat as well. The storm and weather action sequences are not bad - the massive floods, freezes, heatstorms, and tornadoes are interesting to watch, but the overwhelming CGI does take you out of the scenes pretty quickly – this is one rare occasion where I think the destruction will play better on a smaller screen. The advantage to the original Independence Day was that you did connect to the cast – the wide variety of characters thrown together to survive and succeed. The same type of story starts here – with multiple characters on many fronts facing the same issues. However, the characters aren’t given quite the same level of development and time, so there is not the same opportunity to connect, which is too bad, because some of them are really interesting.
- Gerard Butler plays Jake, and can we please stop trying to have him do an American accent? There is absolutely no reason this scientist/inventor/engineer could not have simply been Scottish. Hell, there’s even a line about how he and his brother were born in the UK. In any case, he’s certainly action-capable and great at bossing around a thrown-together team. I didn’t really buy the science coming from him, but he was just fine in all the other aspects of the character.
- British actor Jim Sturgess plays Max Lawson, and yes, eventually he and Jake to put their past grievances aside to come together to help save the world. He’s just fine as a younger brother always having to clean up his older brother’s mess, but I found myself confused by his haircut – a guy who works that often in the White House would surely have a more formal haircut.
- Abbie Cornish plays Sarah Wilson – Max’s fiancée and secret service agent in charge of protecting the president. She’s no-nonsense, but quickly sides with Max when he starts telling her what is really going on.
- Ed Harris plays the Secretary of State, Leonard Dekkom, a man who seems completely sinister from the get-go, especially when he insists on pulling Jake out of his ‘retirement’ to put back on the Dutch Boy project.
- Andy Garcia plays the president, Andrew Palma, and he was pretty fun – seeming to embrace the silly of the movie at hand.
- Richard Schiff plays Senator Thomas Cross, who basically harasses Jake out of a job in the early portion of the movie.
- Daniel Wu plays Cheng, Max’s buddy and the scientist working in the Hong Kong Dutch Boy office. He’s charming and fun during the short bit he gets to demonstrate how incredibly hot it is, and then paranoid when he realizes ‘they’ are out to get him and his research. Honestly, because I’m such a fan of Into The Badlands, I did expect him to fight back, but he mostly just ran away from his attackers here.
- Zaxie Beetz (best name ever) plays Dana, a cybersecurity expert who helps Max figure out what his happening to his access to the Dutch Boy system.
- Alexandra Maria Lara plays Ute Fassbinder, the German scientist who has been running the space station while Jake has not been there. She’s tough and capable, and ready to do whatever needs to be done to solve the problem at hand.
- Robert Sheehan plays Duncan Taylor, the British crew member on the Space Station. Eugenio Derbez plays Al Hernandez a Mexican crew member on the Space Station. Adepero Oduye plays Eni Adisa, a Nigerian crew member on the Space Station. Amr Waked plays Ray Dussette, a French crew member on the Space Station. I did love the international crew aspect.
Overall, the movie is fast-paced, the action isn’t bad, and the disaster spectacle is pretty good – plus, the scenes between Ed Harris and Andy Garcia are pretty great, even if the rest of the scenes are average. There were pieces I really enjoyed – the idea that travel back and forth to the space station is no big deal and happens very regularly, that everyone works together, that science is at the forefront of government, but the execution of the item as a whole was a little lacking. I still love Dean Devlin, and I’m really looking forward to the new season of the Librarians – even if this is just worth a rental, but not worth seeing in the theater.
5 out of 10 – Gained points for Daniel Wu, but lost points for not using him enough. Gained points for the international crew, but then lost points for making both Butler and Sturgess pretend to be American.