Last weekend saw the release of Geostorm, a Gerard Butler action nonstravaganza in which there are
Truly the “bears, beets, Battlestar Galactica” of the direct-to-VOD action movie set. Except Geostorm wasn’t direct-to-VOD. It somehow came out in theaters. It made no money over its opening weekend, but it was there, in all its schlocky, predictable, cardboard less-than-glory.
I kind of liked it.
Allow me to explain.
But first, some Pajiba backstory. Commandant TK, who’s in charge of review assignments around these parts, routinely consigns me to the gulag that is “reviewing movies that look like they’re going to be shit.” Occasionally I punk his ass by stumbling into something good, like Unfriended or Annabelle: Creation. More often than not, it’s The Emoji Movie or Rock Dog. But one thing is certain: TO NOT REVIEW EVERY BAD MOVIE TK ASSIGNS ME WOULD BE AN ADMISSION OF DEFEAT. I AM NOT GOING TO LET THAT PUNK-ASS, TOP GUN-LOVING ASSHOLE GET THE BETTER OF ME E V E R. So I did not just see Geostorm. I S A W G E O S T O R M. I saw the most possible Geostorm, by which I mean “Geostorm in 3D and 4DX.”
EVERY DIMENSION OF GEOSTORM.
GEOSTORM WITH JIGGLE SEATS.
WITH SCENTS AND FLASHING LIGHTS AND MIST AND WATER SPRAYING IN MY FACE BECAUSE OF THE GEOSTOOOOOOOOORM.
Geostorm: Sunday matinee. 3D 4DX. With snarky friends. Hungover… possibly still a little bit drunk.
That shit was wonderful.
Because here’s the thing: Geostorm, like Monster Trucks from earlier this year, feels like a movie from 1994 that somehow slipstreamed through time and only came out in 2017. This is a movie that deserves a tie-in rap song called “Rock Your Geostorm” playing over the credits. The dissonance makes sense: Geostorm was directed by Dean Devlin, who produced Independence Day and Stargate. (Is there a scene in Geostorm where a dog’s about to be killed in a natural disaster, only to be saved at the last minute? Oh, yes.) Geostorm isn’t as good as either of those movies, but there’s a definite eau de ’90s schlock that’s quite pleasingly unchallenging if you’re coming off a long, raucous night of birthday karaoke.
Gerard Butler plays Jake Lawson (“the Jake Lawson?,” one character breathlessly asks), your standard ’90s bad boy hero. He’s a GENIUS SCIENTIST who PLAYS BY HIS OWN RULES and DOESN’T RESPOND WELL TO AUTHORITY and HAS A BURGEONING ALCOHOL PROBLEM MAYBE. Lawson invented a system of satellites known as “Dutch Boy,” which fixed climate change, essentially. Only Lawson is a MAVERICK (natch) who TELLS IT LIKE IT IS (natch), which gets him fired in favor of his younger brother Max (Jim Sturgess, sporting the world’s worst hairdo). Three years later, Dutch Boy is malfunctioning, to the tune of random weather events that leave people dead. So Jake Lawson has to fly back up to its outer space HQ to figure out what’s going on, sabotage blah blah, MANLY BROTHER FEELINGS blah blah… it’s all very stupid. There are a few reasonably cool looking action set pieces, but we never actually get a full GEOSTORM… which left me feeling mighty cheated, let me tell you. But there is a giant countdown clock that Devlin keeps cutting back to which proclaims TIME TO GEOSTORM, so thanks to screenwriters Devlin and Paul Guyot for giving me a new signature ~*~bedroom phrase~*~.
You want more dumb? I got more dumb:
“They called it ‘extreme weather’… they didn’t know what extreme was.”
“The world came together as one… and we fought back.” (Against… weather?)
“That I am calling bullshit on.” (That’s not how people talk.)
“I know everything about you. Your brother. Your mother’s death. Your father’s death.” (That’s definitely not how people talk.)
“I’d rather catch nothing with my family than catch 20 fish on my own.”
You guys. There’s an EMOTIONAL FISHING ANECDOTE. The dialogue in this movie is people constantly repeating exposition to each other. Geostorm was written by a robot raised on Sesame Street.
Ed Harris is there, cashing that paycheck. Abbie Cornish plays a secret service agent. She’s fine. They’re all fine, i.e. bland and forgettable. Daniel Wu’s there, and he’s hot (figuratively and also literally, as in he spends a good chunk of his too-little screentime sweaty, and mmmmmmmmmmm). The sole standout—heads up, Deadpool fans—is Atlanta’s Zazie Beetz, playing a sarcastic hacker type. She’ll be playing Domino in the Deadpool sequel, which means now I’m even more excited about that. Thank you, Geostorm. I owe you so much in this cold, dark world.
Most of the “action” in Geostorm is… people standing around, looking at screens. People standing around, videoconferencing. Which is where the 4DX really saved my ass. If you’ve never gone to a 4DX screening before, they basically combine seating effects (back-and-forth motion, rumbling… theme park kind of stuff) with environmental effects (water and air blasts, wind, mist, sometimes scents) in a way that’s supposed to integrate you further into the movie. In practice, when I’ve gone to a 4D movie before, I’ve found the effects distracting. In Geostorm, I didn’t, because there was nothing to distract me from. It’s such a harmless nothing of a movie that being being bounced around in my seat and sprayed in the face with water was actually pretty fun. And it kept me from falling asleep, besides. Geostorm is the perfect 4D movie. Put it on the poster.
Simply put, Geostorm is not great cinema—it’s not even good cinema—but if you find yourself hung over some lazy Sunday afternoon and in need of something to pay absolutely no attention to, fuck it, I will say it: GO SEE GEOSTORM. As long as you take a flask with you so you can take a sip every time someone says the title of the movie. You’ll be drunk all over again by the time the credits roll.