‘Geostorm’ Is Catastrophic in Every Way

Originally intended to be released in March of 2016, the Warner Bros. disaster film “Geostorm” finally hits the big screen after a year and a half of extensive reshoots, causing the firing and hiring of a new producer, writer, and director. The disastrous behind-the-scenes scramble mimics the disaster presented as a final product.

Set in the very near future where Lower-Manhattan has been engulfed in water and deserts switch from blazing heat to frigid cold in the blink of an eye, the world in “Geostorm” is deeply devastated by the effects of global warming. The world has paired together a team of international scientists and engineers to assemble multiple structural space satellites in an attempt to combat the extreme weather.

While relevant in its somewhat far-fetched commentary on global warming, the timing of the release could not be worse. After the devastating hurricanes that have struck the Southern portion of the United States and the wildfires raging on in Northern California, the disastrous scenes featuring Mother Nature hitting cities with brute force is not what viewers will seek out in spectacle escapism cinema.

Gerard Butler stars as Jake Lawson, who once helmed the system of satellites. After a political snafu, Jake’s younger brother Max (Jim Sturgess) takes over his position, which creates reasonable tension within the brother’s relationship. But once some of the satellites begin to malfunction the bickering sibling duo must work together before the weather gets entirely out of control and wipes all humans off the planet for good.

The film serves as a starring vehicle for Butler, whose name doesn’t quite hold the same marquee value that it once did a decade ago in the era of “300.” However, the true star of the film is the special effects – featuring over a plethora of scenes with global landmarks and metropolis’ collapsing in the grips of Mother Nature. Featuring the combined work of over a dozen special effects houses, the disaster and destruction scenes, which let’s face it is the reason anyone is seeing the film in the first place, are pure spectacle. But it doesn’t make up for the prosperous devices suggested by the script’s ending.

The film is the first directorial attempt by Dean Devlin, who has previously served as the producer on “Independence Day” and “Godzilla” and certainly fills the criteria for a disaster film director. Devlin also served as a writer on the film along side Paul Guyot. His choices are rather questionable. For instance, the camera swiftly follows a random bikini-clad Brazilian extra through an extreme frostbite sequence in Rio de Janeiro. It is a choice that is seemingly befitting of a cheesy made-for-television movie.

Warner Bros. has struggled with disaster films in the past few years. Their August 2015 release of the twister film “Into the Storm” was largely panned by critics and failed to break even at the box office. In the case of “Geostorm,” the studio opted out of critic screening and Thursday preview shows, which never indicates a good sign. Poor test screenings led to $13 million in reshoots, pushing the already sizable budget of $120 million closer to $180 after prints and advertising. The likelihood of “Geostorm” breaking even will be more so dependent on foreign ticket sales, which have already started out rather soft in a few Asian markets at $9 million last week. Warner Bros. just flushed a whole lot of money on a Saturday night Syfy Channel movie.

Geostorm” opens in theaters Oct. 20.