By Liz Lopez
Since we have had catastrophic hurricanes in Texas and Puerto Rico recently, as well as earthquakes and other extreme weather events around the world, the feature film “Geostorm” certainly appears to be a timely story about climate change as the trailer indicates. The film is produced and directed by Dean Devlin, based on a script he co-wrote with Paul Guyot, and the principal photography began in 2014. It has taken a while to arrive in theaters and the screenplay takes the viewer to the future (2019) when Earth is taking a beating by various disasters.
The scenes of major cities worldwide undergoing destruction and millions presumed to perish look impressive. Although I do have a couple of favorite scenes that show how heat waves and ice storms can change everyday life, not all parts of the disaster story are very convincing or particularly new. Devlin is best known for producing “Independence Day” (1996), “Godzilla” (1998) and “Independence Day: Resurgence” (2016) – and some fans of this genre of film may find scenes in “Geostorm” a bit predictable – as is all of the action and drama written for Gerard Butler’s character, American rocket scientist Jake Lawson. If someone has viewed Butler’s performance as the character Mike Banning in “Olympus Has Fallen” and “London Has Fallen,” there are glaring similarities as we view Butler portray a scientist that lead film fans to scream “predictable.” While I do enjoy the humor provided by Eugenio Derbez as he portrays Al Hernandez on Lawson’s team on the International Climate Space Station, the fact that Andy Garcia portrays the POTUS and some of the scenes among the politicians, the film misses the ability to engage the viewer for more than just a way to while away a couple of hours.
In the film, the viewer is expected to believe global warming has been ended by a scientist and a team of representatives from around the world in the not too distant future. The designing and building of an elaborate satellite system that the world would have quickly approved is also a stretch, knowing how many years it takes to get a consensus for most anything in government. Once it is learned that “control” is a key factor in this film, it doesn’t take a “rocket scientist” to figure out what is to come next.
The actor’s performances vary from character to character, but so much of this leads back to the script that each individual has to work with. Jake’s brother, Max (Jim Sturgess), works at the White House and is high enough up the political chain to participate in high level meetings with U.S. President Andrew Palma (Garcia) and Secretary of State Leonard Dekkom (Ed Harris). Sturgess often appears as if he is in pain having to say his lines – some of which appear too melodramatic. I have a hard time believing Max has what it takes to decipher codes and other things. Max’s love interest is a Secret Service agent, Sarah Wilson (Abbie Cornish). Although I was not impressed with her character early in the film, her character comes to live in the latter half of the film. I am glad to see this female character kick into action.
Harris and Garcia are both excellent in their roles, with their dramatic talent that outshines others. Hong Kong actor Daniel Wu Yin-cho, one of many satellite experts in the film, is credible and talented in the scenes within and outside of the convenience store during extreme heat. Alexandra Maria Lara portrays a lead scientist on the space station, but her character is not well developed to convince viewers of her capability to be the commander of this ship.
While I do not believe the film is a total dud, there is a satisfying amount of action and mayhem to give us a glimpse as to what other catastrophic events can arise as our weather keeps changing. Now that Devlin has stepped forward to work on his own genre film, debuting as a director on a feature film, fans of “The Day After Tomorrow” or “2012,” may appreciate “Geostorm” more than others. Devlin still has plenty of tornadoes and tidal waves to work with and grab the public’s attention about climate change.
RATED PG-13 for destruction, action and violence. “Geostorm” opens locally on October 20th and check your local listings for show times.
Source: Warner Bros.