GEOSTORM: Big? Yep. Loud? You Betcha. Dull? Woefully.
Despite big, loud, planet destroying special effects, Geostorm still ends up feeling like a dull, tired excuse for a blockbuster.
What is the primary goal of an action film? I’m not talking groundbreaking, sophisticated action here, so you can ignore your Inception‘s and your Mad Max: Fury Road‘s for the time being. I mean a simple, straightforward action movie – should they be fun? Do they need compelling, thoughtful characters? Is humour a necessity? How important is it for an action film to be thematically rich?
It’s something many of us have probably thought over at some stage, but Dean Devlin‘s Geostorm seems to run the question into the ground before we can even consider answering it. Simply put, Geostorm has none of the above: its thematically heavy handed and all over the place, the characters are dull beyond description, none of the humour works and it just isn’t fun. This is a film that, arguably, should be the kind of brainlessly enjoyable piece of action that we can all engage with for a couple of hours and then move on from, but I’d struggle giving Geostorm even that faint praise.
2012 In 2017, Only Worse
Before I start sounding too harsh on the film, know that I really wanted to enjoy it. I’m more than game for a bit of sloppy action film making that at least packs enough thrills and exciting moments to ease you through. Zack Snyder‘s Sucker Punch is a royal mess, but I kind of love it. Even the pretty-similar-to-this 2012 has enough awe-inspiring moments for me to at least enjoy what I was watching. Both of these are probably bad films, but there’s fun to be had with them – and this is exactly what I wanted from Geostorm.
Instead, we get a film devoid of thrills. Geostorm is loud and frantic and constantly getting bigger, yet so very rarely does it make you feel like anything matters. Entire cities freeze over and planes fall from the sky, but the film doesn’t seem to realise how much thrill-ridden potential a scene like this could have. We also spend half of the film up on a space station that slowly begins to tear itself apart, and even that is presented with the excitement of watching someone knit for a couple of hours. There’s plenty of spectacular moments in the script, but Geostorm can’t seem to translate them into visual thrills.
Stuck in the middle of all of this is a cast who, despite giving perfectly acceptable surface level performances, don’t really seem to know what to do with their characters. Gerard Butler growls his way through the action just fine, but when it comes to the scenes with his character’s daughter he brings about as much emotion as a wet sponge. Abbie Cornish certainly looks the part, and she knows her way around an action scene, but her delivery of the film’s humour is flat and, dare I say it, cringe-inducingly awkward. Pretty much every cast member here has the bare necessities sorted, they just can’t seem to add any depth.
But then, how could we blame them? Geostorm‘s script is a mess of heavy handed geographical themes forced into a plot that barely holds together – it doesn’t exactly have any interest for complex, thoughtful character development. Characters talk about saving the world but the film doesn’t do enough to make us feel any of the weight this threat should bring, and so it almost lands as parody. “If we don’t fix this soon, there could be…”, Gerard Butler reduces his voice to a soft whisper, “…a Geostorm”. You can almost hear the fanfare from here.
Some Sloppy Stormy Sights
Even more frustrating is that a film of this kind should look spectacular. I’m talking jaw on the floor, eyes wide open. Geostorm‘s visual effects are decent enough, but they’re rarely used in any notable ways. The film can’t make its global disasters look scary or tense or even, at a push, awesome. The effects are technically well rendered, but there’s no direction to them – they seem to exist solely because, well, you can’t make a film called Geostorm without an abundance of visual effects now can you? That would just be absurd.
Geostorm opens on a narration that talks about environmental issues and how the world came to prevent them, and it’s all about as subtle as a brick to the face. You can almost hear Devlin, who co-wrote the script, screaming “Global Warming is a thing!” as he lobs the brick in your direction. The film seems to think it’s doing some good here, bringing to light a topic of conversation undeniably important in these scary real world times, but Geostorm doesn’t do anything with it besides show us what could possibly happen some day. Honestly, the lack of character depth is scarier than the threats the film poses.
There really isn’t much else to say about Geostorm. It’s a film as loud as it is dull, as explosive as it is empty. It lacks the conviction to be anything more than an effects driven extravaganza and any attempt at metaphorical work or character building is offensively uninspired. I think I’d rather experience a Geostorm than watch Geostorm again. Yep, I’ll take a freezing-scorching-tsunami-earthquake over this any day.
What do you think, how does Geostorm compare to other disaster films? Let us know in the comments!
Geostorm is out now. A full list of international release dates can be found here.
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