When Jean Paul Sartre penned his own version of existentialist thought, he talked about the anxiety that comes with freedom. Even in the most extreme circumstances, when your entire body is bound and you can barely breathe, you are responsible for your choices (even if those choices only affect your thoughts). That can be difficult to grasp. Everyone wants to be free, but no one wants the responsibility that comes with that freedom. I bring this up because I experienced that anxiety having left a screening of Geostorm. I chose to spend money on that film. I chose to stay for the entire screening. I have to own up to that, and I don’t think I can.
I can only hope that the film’s creators (director Dean Devlin, starring Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess and Ed Harris) are feeling similarly distraught about their choices. I watched their raging dumpster fire of a movie, but they made that raging dumpster fire. Every step along the way, someone chose to make the film this way, a team of people chose to make it happen, and an executive chose to say ‘this is fine’.
Someone chose to accept the fact that every scene in the movie (even the slow, people-talking ones) are underpinned by obnoxiously tense and dramatic music. Jim Sturgess chose to accept the fact this is perhaps the worst performance of his career, dragging every single scene he’s in, and somehow overacting the tiniest of movements. Someone also chose to accept the fact that Geostorm is a made up and stupid name, but is still the title of the movie and is said by multiple characters throughout the film. They even give the stupid word a even worse definition! Who thought this was going to be taken seriously?
Before I carry on, I should point out the few things that were enjoyable about the movie. Talitha Bateman, who plays the daughter of main character Max Lawson (Gerard Butler), is incredible in the few scenes she’s in. So is Zazie Beetz, playing an assistant who helps our main characters in a few scenarios. There are also some neat shots every now and then, and the intrigue as to who’s behind the disasters (for there is actually an antagonist) is interesting, until it turns out to be the most obvious candidate.
Now back to the awful. And oh boy, is there a lot of awful. For a disaster movie, there’s not much disaster, but that might work to the film’s benefit as most of the disaster setpieces look completely atrocious. One scene is just people being hit in the face with snowballs. In another, gas pipes erupt in the streets, somehow bringing down whole buildings and creating… swirling vortexes of fire? Sure, okay. Whatever. If they aren’t laughably bad, they’re so filled with flashing lights and horrendous camera movements that you can’t even tell what’s happening.
Everything between those short sequences is equally as stupid, or boring, or laughable. Dialogue is hamfisted and underdelivered. Scientific explanations are given for things that just don’t need an explanation, and so many of the characters’ decisions make no sense whatsoever. It’s not hard to make an ‘our parents are dead’ reveal underwhelming, but make that moment have an audience genuinely burst into laughter? That’s something very special.
There are moments where the film looks like it’s about to go somewhere interesting. There are lines of dialogue that imply that something there’s more to it, that something bigger might be going on. But all of those threads resolve so blandly that they almost feel like an accident. Geostorm is so full of meaningless red herrings, poor romantic subplots, and characters that are made out to be all cool and suave that are actually just jerks. It also has the worst fake English accent I’ve ever heard. It’s really bad; it’s worse than Charlize Theron’s accent in Arrested Development, and that was bad on purpose for comedy. It’s an incidental little detail of the film but it was so upsettingly awful.
If you couldn’t already tell, Geostorm is bad. It’s very, very bad, and I’m not sure what else to say about it. It is a travesty of filmmaking, one that I will never be able to forgive Gerard Butler for. Please, spend your money on something else. A ticket is ten dollars; you could get a new set of guitar strings or a nice meal for that cash. Please don’t spend it on this flaming garbage.