The clearest indication in the early goings of Geostorm that we’re dealing with a strictly science fiction disaster-movie universe is the notion that in the year 2019 the president of the United States looked around and thought, “Huh, this climate change is really getting out of hand. Better do something about this!” It’s a stunning, revelatory conceit, one that grounds us firmly in the wacky alternate universe where we’ll spend the next hour and 49 minutes of our life. Sadly, it mostly goes downhill from there.
I’m putting this one in the stack with The Mummy as another example of a film that left me wondering just what exactly people are looking for when they watch something like this. It nowhere near deserves the wretched 11 percent Tomatometer score it currently holds. It does nothing new at all with its outer space settings, Gerard Butler seems to alternate only between angry and confused, and Zazie Beetz steals every scene she’s in to the point where you’re almost embarrassed for the rest of the film around her. But even with that being the case, Geostorm is also kind of a bait-and-switch, with the approaching extinction-level event “geostorm” being the action movie backdrop to … well, something else entirely. It starts out looking like Armageddon but ends up reaching more for Watchmen or Seven Days in May territory. So I’m giving them points for trying on this one. I’ll even throw in a bonus for it being the most unintentionally hilarious film of the season.
Unfortunately, Geostorm has no idea what to do with these elements. For such a massive, literally earthshaking political gambit and subsequent cover-up operation, the villains involved suffer from a complete lack of motivation. There’s a reason for what they’re up to, but that’s not quite the same thing. Since I don’t want to spoil the only interesting part of the movie, let’s try a thought experiment instead.
Imagine a domestic drama where the family’s neighbor turns out to be a mass murderer. The killer goes rampaging through office buildings, massacring employees of several companies. The father of the family at the center of the story is killed in just such a rampage. The killer is caught. When asked for a motive, he explains, “I was in love with my next-door neighbor, so I thought if I killed her husband, then I could move in and marry her.” Huh? Sure, I guess that makes sense, this being a bad movie and all. But how do you know she’ll love you? Why did all those others have to die? What is it about this woman that made her worth all the bloodshed to you?
This analogous situation, as it applies to Geostorm, is even more bizarre in context. And I’m not even sure the screenwriters thought this was a problem (I mean, obviously) since these implications are never really questioned by anyone in the film. But hey, at least they tried to go weird with it, which I will always appreciate. Rated PG-13 for destruction, action and violence. Now Playing at AMC Classic River Hills 10, Carolina Cinemark, Regal Biltmore Grande, Epic of Hendersonville.