This is terrible news: Geostorm, the new disaster movie starring Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris, Andy Garcia, and Abbie Cornish, is so bad. So, so bad. So, so, SOOOOOO bad. (Related: It bricked at the box office.) These are the main parts of the movie:
- A destabilizing climate causes catastrophic natural disasters. (This is a great premise for the beginning of a movie. I wish we’d have gotten to see this movie: just a bunch of people having to survive tornadoes, hurricanes, snowstorms, tidal waves, etc.)
- In response, Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler) builds what is basically a giant science net around the earth in outer space that detects upcoming storms and eliminates them before they start. If it’s a freeze that’s coming, for example, a satellite will deploy a laser to heat things up to counteract the freeze. If it’s a hurricane, a satellite will deploy tiny bombs that explode in the atmosphere and cause the clouds to dissipate.
- The net and the space station that controls it, called Dutch Boy, begin to malfunction, which results in the deaths of many, many people. (This should’ve been cool, except it ends up being super corny. It felt a lot like some movie exec was sitting in a room 18 months ago and was like, “Whoa. What if there was a tidal wave in a desert? Or what if it got hot real quick where it’s normally cold? Let’s make that a movie, except let’s show it for, like, only 45 seconds total.”)
- Lawson, who’d been fired from his job because he is a rude renegade, is sent up to space to fix it by his younger brother (Jim Sturgess, playing Max Lawson) because he’s the only man who can fix it, because that’s the kind of movie this is. (Jake is a loner but he just so happens to have custody of his daughter the weekend he’s asked to do this. She says things to him like, “Dad, did you hear about the gas line explosions in Hong Kong last night?” She’s 13.)
- Only the thing of it is: Dutch Boy wasn’t malfunctioning, it was hacked.
- And it was hacked by the secretary of state of the United States of America (Leonard Dekkom, played by Ed Harris).
- His plan was to use Dutch Boy to create enough storms all at once that they’d eventually create a Geostorm, which is a humongous global storm that would be “unlike anything we’ve ever seen,” or something. (What’s important to point out here is that Geostorm never happens. There’s a countdown to it like a bomb, but it gets thwarted at the last second. It’s incredibly unfulfilling.)
- Dekkom was doing so because he wanted to kill the president, the vice president, the speaker of the House of Representatives, and the president pro tempore of the Senate all at once so he could become president. (For real.)
There are about a million other pieces to it—at least 80 percent of the movie is made up of someone explaining something to someone else—but that’s the gist of it. (There’s a stretch where we see three different people hack into a secret government weather database thing through some backdoor mechanism.) (And also a part where someone shoots a car with a rocket launcher, and it’s the first time I was ever disappointed while watching a person shoot a car with a rocket launcher.) (And also about 15 different parts where someone says something like, “What kind of idiot would do that?” and then someone else standing nearby would say something like, “I’m that kind of idiot. I did that,” and then the original person goes, “... Whoops”).
About 25 minutes into watching it Friday night, which was its opening night, the couple sitting in our row (they were sitting “in our row” and not “next to us” because the theater was mostly empty) got up and left and never came back, and that’s probably the best review of Geostorm you’re going to get. And that’s disappointing, because disaster movies are usually so much fun to watch (San Andreas, 2012, The Day After Tomorrow, among others), if not altogether great (The Perfect Storm, Armageddon, Deepwater Horizon, among others). Even the bad ones, like 1997’s Dante’s Peak or 1997’s Volcano (1997 was a big year for lava), are enjoyable for specific reasons (Anne Heche shouting, “When Mount St. Helens blew the force was 27,000 times greater than the Hiroshima bomb!” in Volcano is an elite-level disaster-movie moment). But there were just no fun pieces to Geostorm. None. Not a single one. Not even when they have a woman outrun an insta-freeze cloud.
Originally, the plan here was to write a thing trying to figure out which was the better geostorm: Geostorm or that goofy Geo Storm car that was manufactured in the early ’90s. But there’s just not even a competition there. For as ugly and nerdy as the Geo Storm car was, it still washes Geostorm away. The Geo Storm handled better (Geostorm was a real mess; it was like nobody told anybody in the movie what the movie was or wasn’t about); it had a more powerful engine (the Geo Storm could only get up to about 40 miles per hour, but that was still faster than Gerard Butler and Jim Sturgess got up to in Geostorm); it was more comfortable (the Geo Storm was like if you taped a shoebox to a roller skate, but even sitting in that was better than sitting in a theater for Geostorm); and it had better braking (Geostorm just ... would … not … stop) (lol) (sorry). The Geo Storm car wins in a landslide.
In 1998, a friend of mine named Alejandro received a heavily used 1993 Geo Storm from his mom as a high school graduation present. They were incredibly popular cars in our part of town because although they were cheap, they also looked like they were at least trying to be cool. My sister had a Mercury Capri, which was somehow a worse, smaller version of the Geo Storm. At any rate, Alejandro’s Storm was awful to look at and even worse to ride in, but mostly everyone else in our group was jealous of it because none of us had our own cars. Alejandro loved that car (as he should’ve, given that it was an incredibly sweet gift from his mother), and so he took great care of it. He washed it all the time, he waxed it every once in a while, and he always made sure that it had an air freshener in it.
One weekend—this was during the second half of the school year, though I can’t remember if it was before spring break or after—he’d secured a date with a girl who was far too pretty for him by telling her that he owned his own car. He drove over to her house the night of the date, walked up to her door, rang her doorbell, waited for her to come out, said hello, and then stepped aside so she could walk past him. When she did—and this is him retelling us the story, which I never forgot because I thought it was the funniest shit of all—she looked at his beloved Geo Storm, stopped, and said, “Oh … never mind,” and then she turned around and went back inside the house. That’s a real thing that happened to him. And it was the first thing I thought about after we’d finished watching Geostorm. That’s probably the second-best review you’re going to get.