Friday, November 03, 2017


There are almost certainly many better movies I could have seen early Sunday morning, especially considering I was trying to wedge some movie time in between two bits of travel (one for work, one for fun). But it's been a while since I've seen a Hollywood-style bit of excess, or so it's seemed, complete with 3D glasses and movie stars. It feels like I've seen a fair number of big Korean and Chinese action movies lately, but there's something a bit different when you can actually bring some pop-cultural baggage to a light entertainment like this. Gerard Butler doing Gerard Butler is different from the Chinese equivalent of Gerard Butler doing that sort of thing for me.

Obviously, it would be nice if it were a better movie, but Roland Emmerich's longtime partner-in-crime is likely not the guy to give pathos to this sort of destruction.

Funny thing: The Sunday I saw it, there was fairly heavy wind and rain predicted for the Boston area (that I more or less missed), but when I got to the farthest screen from the entrance, I found the seats I was usually in were blocked off, with a vinyl banner seated on them. I figured that they were just busted, but when I looked up after the movie, it looked like the roof had some water damage and the area in front of those seats had buckets in front of them (the yellow sort on wheels that janitors push with their mops). I now really want to know whether this was just a happy coincidence or if the manager of the theater put Geostorm in this room because, if the roof started leaking, the patrons would get the added experience of this movie having something like actual rain in front of the picture for this movie about very bad weather. If this was a deliberate choice, then that is some first-class lemons-into-lemonade work.


* * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 29 October 2017 in AMC Boston Common #15 (first-run, RealD 3D DCP)

Geostorm is a deeply stupid movie, but it's my favorite kind of stupid, where the cast gets big, shiny sets to play on, an international team of experts is genuinely international, there's a ton of 3D mayhem that's nevertheless easy to follow, and, most importantly, the whole thing is built around a belief in a brighter future where humanity can actually do amazing things to make the world better, even if there is incredible danger. It's ridiculous and the breeziness that makes it enjoyable is often wrong-headed, but it's capable as big dumb adventures go.

The premise, we're told, is that in the late 2010s, the extreme weather patterns get bad enough that humanity pulls together to create a climate-control system popularly known as "Dutchboy", with engineer Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler) directing the project from the International Space Station, though he's abrasive and arrogant enough to be removed soon after it is made operational. Several years later, something is going wrong - a village in Afghanistan is flash-frozen weeks before the United States is to turn Dutchboy over to international control - and Jake is the natural choice to go up to work with the station's current captain, Ute Fassbinder (Alexandra Maria Lara) to figure out what went wrong. Meanwhile on the ground, Jake's brother Max (Jim Sturgess), a State Department official who had been charged with firing Jake before, learns from Hong Kong-based scientist Cheng Long (Daniel Wu) that it may have been sabotage rather than a malfunction, but the start of a series of cascading events that could cause a planet-wide "Geostorm", and he may not be able to trust anyone with this information.

It's still dumb as heck, of course, and even if there weren't a bunch of recent horrific real-life storms in the news, the filmmakers seem even more tone-deaf than usual in how they make terrible, city-destroying violence into effects scenes we're supposed to gape at and applaud (and it's not like further delaying a movie that has already been on the shelf for a while is a great option, because it's not like current climate models suggest storms are going to get milder and less frequent any time soon). The plotting is obvious, the dialogue tilts way more toward dumb than clever, and sometimes it seems like the writers really didn't bother to look something easy up, meaning a lot of procedural dialogue lands wrong. It's often hard to shake the feeling that director Dean Devlin and his co-writer Paul Guyot had the big, flashy bits in their heads but figured that the audience wasn't any more interested in what came between than they were, so they got lazy. Firing Jake only to re-hire him about ten minutes (as far as the audience is concerned), r stating that there were "rules" that keep Max and his Secret Service girlfriend from dating openly just seems cheap, a way to hang over-familiar storylines on a big fantasy story because the audience is presumed to need something relatable.

Full review on EFC.

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