Geostorm: Science Gone Too Tar

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!

The movie Geostorm isn’t a dark chocolate bar that leaves a bitter taste in your mouth; it’s a carton of milk a few days past its expiration date. You think to yourself, it’s still fresh, I mean, how bad can it possibly be? Then you choke it up immediately.

You’re unable to rid yourself of that rancid taste. The movie revolves around a man, Jake, who’s in charge of creating a web of satellites. Max, Jake’s younger brother, works alongside him until he fires Jake for ignoring orders. Max then becomes the head of the satellite program, and when the contraption inexplicably kills thousands of people, Jake’s former superiors send him to fix the problem by himself. Jake then ventures to space where he discovers that the United States sabotaged his program from the very beginning.

Geostorm’s special effects serve as a comparably nice side to a rotten meal. Waves freezing in place and the many deaths of space voyagers seem convincing enough. However, the rest of the death scenes left me unimpressed. Some of the good-looking explosions did occur in the vacuum of space, which shouldn’t be possible. I guess not even the laws of physics can dissuade a movie’s thirst for explosions, like friction against an unstoppable force.

With so much destruction, Geostorm’s tone never matches the ever-increasing casualty count. Random meteorological events freeze, explode, melt and drown thousands of people with nothing to show for their deaths. A thunderstorm on steroids turns half the state of Florida into ash and low-key explodes a building full of Democrats; yet, with all this devastation, everyone just blindly cheers for Jake.

Poorly executed scenes on top of bad plot frequently caught my eye. However, some scenes surpass their brethren by doing everything wrong simultaneously. In one such scenario, Max tells his Secret Service waifu she must commit treason. He tells her she has to because “I’m asking you” and “it’s bigger than you and me.” Then, all of a sudden, his secretary in- correctly corrects him by briskly spewing “it’s actually ‘you and I.’” What truly makes this scene the crap of the crop boils down to the two clichés stuffed into one exchange: the prescriptionist secretary who tries to develop herself as a character in a comment that falls flat on its face, and the other stupid lines of dialogue that complete the conversation.

Geostorm digs an even larger grave for itself by constantly forcing clichés onto its characters. The actors clearly have a tough time identifying with their character’s unoriginal motives and the generally unrealistic dialogue. Little annoyances here and there slowly started to add up. Jake knowing every little pointless detail about his space web (except for the actual layout of the ship he’s on) really irritated me because they added nothing to his character. The few scenes in which Dusette, the French security guard, and other characters notice the most obscure details only to advance the plot also frustrated me— they completely broke the only moment of immersion the story offered.

Is Geostorm enjoyable? Sure. The movie’s pacing did not allow for boring moments though at the expense of critical story elements. If you enjoy awkward conversations that don’t make sense and laughing during the serious parts of a movie, then, by all means, get a ticket.

Geostorm could have been more fun if it didn’t take itself so seriously. Had it kept  its terrible plot, but refined its characters, it could have been a much different movie. With so little to lose, Geostorm could have easily taken some risks and explored new comedic or philosophical avenues. With its cookie-cutter formula for a crappy plot, the movie crew clearly focused on finishing the movie rather than adding anything to an already heavily exploited genre.

Illustration by Ruby Handa.