Geostorm is a disaster and not because of climate change

This film relies heavily on special effects but pays scant attention to acting, dialogue or wardrobe

Geostorm tries to blast its way towards solving a climate crisis.
Geostorm tries to blast its way towards solving a climate crisis.PHOTO: WARNER BROS



109 minutes/Now showing/1.5 stars

The story: After extreme weather ravages the planet, nations unite to create Dutch Boy, a global satellite system that stops the problem with missiles and energy beams. The system's architect, Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler), is fired for insubordination and replaced by his brother Max (Jim Sturgess). A malfunction's fatal consequences leads to Jake's return and a high-level conspiracy is uncovered.

The heavy-handed, old-timey feel of this disaster movie might have you thinking of Roland Emmerich, the German film-maker who directed Independence Day (1996) and its sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence (2006).

You would be wrong, but only just. Geostorm is the directorial debut of writer Dean Devlin, who is a frequent collaborator with Emmerich.

The jingoism, sentimentality and bombast in Geostorm are in the same vein as the Independence Day films, which Devlin co-wrote.

As director, Devlin's sappiness - everyone verbalises feelings as if reading a news report - is injected into a movie that recycles the climategeddon premise of Emmerich's The Day After Tomorrow (2004), but with the added moisture of the skyscraper-topping waves from the same director's 2012 (2009).

Is Devlin, as some say, being retro-ironic? If so, the mask has become his face. He casts as leading man Butler, looking more like an angry shar pei than ever. He plays the rulebook-ripping loose cannon rarely seen outside of 1990s Bruce Willis movies or Comedy Central parody sketches.

His character and Sturgess' Max have an intense sibling rivalry. We know this because it is mentioned every time they speak.

This is a movie where the special effects are relied on so heavily that acting, dialogue and wardrobe do not matter.

Butler's beard stays the same scruffy length over days in space. Sturgess sports a suit for his high-powered government job, but his mini-mullet remains. And logic be damned, because security men can apparently carry handguns on a fragile space station.

China is mentioned in the first five minutes and Daniel Wu plays a minor part as a Hong Kong-based scientist, but according to this movie, space belongs to the one nation manly enough to punch its way into solving the climate crisis.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2017, with the headline 'Geostorm is a disaster and not because of climate change'. Subscribe