Geostorm (2017)

*. Geostorm. Even the name sounds like a video game. Though actually it was also the name of a car manufactured by Isuzu in the early 1990s (technically, the Geo Storm).
*. The movie Geostorm crashed at the box office and met dreadful reviews, most of which complained of the unoriginal and stupid plot. Mark Kermode’s rant, wherein he described it as “the stupidest film I’ve ever seen,” stood out: “It takes stupid to a whole new level. I’m not exaggerating. You can feel any sense of intelligence you have just sort of seeping out of your ears.”
*. This is good, but Kermode softens things a bit by adding: “I could feel myself getting stupider, I could actually feel myself getting dumber as I watched the film, and the dumber I got the more I started to enjoy it.” This was not my experience. I wanted it to end half an hour before it did I was so sick and tired of it.
*. Certainly Geostorm is stupid. But compared to what? All of these CGI spectacle films are stupid. They’re popcorn movies aimed at audiences with no attention span and the intelligence of a third-grader. Around the same time as I saw Geostorm I watched Rampage, the giant ape movie starring Dwayne Johnson. Was Geostorm as stupid as that?
*. So the characters spout a lot of scientific mumbo-jumbo and we see technology that has instantaneous effect on extreme weather events. And when I say “extreme” I mean flash-frozen tropics, tidal waves in the desert, and lightning bolts that turn entire stadiums into giant fireballs. That extreme.
*. In at least one way, however, it’s not just all harmless bullshit. As I mentioned in my notes on the 2008 remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, Hollywood has been nervous about dealing with the topic of global climate change. Here it’s taken as a given, but technology has come to the rescue, offering up a quick, painless fix to all our problems. The whole world has come together to get this right (with the U.S. and China leading the way). This really is wishful thinking.
*. Aside from that, it’s all just an excuse to see cities being destroyed by CGI. Which, as I’ve said before, is one of the only things CGI does really well (the others being giant monsters and clashing armies). But none of this was new in 2017. We’ve seen all of these effects before. The people being frozen, the skyscrapers toppling. So I never started to enjoy it. I was bored.

5 thoughts on “Geostorm (2017)

  1. tensecondsfromnow

    The whole ‘America leads the way’ things is so over now. If anything , it looks like they could really screw things up for the rest of us. No need for assembling avengers, when the chips are down, America seems to be on the way out of any kind of global responsibility.

    1. Alex Good Post author

      I think we’re moving away from the idea, and what for much of the twentieth century was the reality, of the U.S. being the necessary nation. Though it’s hard to see where any kind of global leadership is going to come from to fill the gap if they withdraw or collapse. The thing that made me shake my head in this movie is the way there was such a quick and easy tech fix for climate change. That’s not in the cards, and I don’t think it’s helpful to even play with the idea that it is. I guess you could say “it’s just a popcorn movie,” but pop culture does infect our thinking about these things.

      1. tensecondsfromnow

        It certainly shows that life doesn’t always imitate art. The idea that the US will save us all has been a staple for decades, but that was on the assumption that America would have the kind of leadership they had in the past. Sadly, the idea of Gerry Butler’s Dutch Boy saving the world is just a fiction.

      2. Alex Good Post author

        It was only when I was posting these notes that I realized I hadn’t mentioned Butler. He keeps on playing the same gruff hero even when he’s supposed to be a scientist or engineer. Of course a lot of actors get typecast, but you’d think they’d be letting him have more fun with these roles seeing as he does them so often. Aside from his nice turn in Beowulf & Grendel he seems stuck playing them straight.

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