Geostorm makes The Day After Tomorrow look like a Stanley Kubrick film. Sure, it brings everything you expect from a typical disaster movie: thinly drawn characters, preposterous scenarios, a barely coherent plot. No one expects a movie like this to be in any way an intellectual endeavor.
The thing with Geostorm, which was directed and co-written by Dean Devlin, is that it's like someone took the standard disaster-movie formula and willfully made it even dumber. Devlin wrote the screenplay for the original Independence Day, which was a unique film in that it had a self-awareness of the ludicrous cinema conventions it also gleefully participated in. For Devlin, that level of sophistication seems to have stopped there: he also wrote the dreadful 1998 version of Godzilla, and . . . oh, wait. He has no feature film writing credits since. Who the hell greenlit this movie?
If Geostorm has any truly impressive achievement, it's that it makes the audience wistful for a movie like Deep Impact. Disaster movies are a dime a dozen anymore, and hardly any effort even gets put into them. To call this script terrible would be a criminal understatement. It's like Devlin just took buzzwords like "mainframe," "code," and "OS" and just offered as many arrangements of them he could think of to have tumbling incomprehensibly out of his characters' mouths. And the plot, such as it is? Even a high school Sophomore's creative writing teacher would be like, "This is so contrived, I expected more from you."
It's the near future, you see. The world's nations have come together! They created a worldwide systems of satellites that control the weather, as a means of solving severe weather patterns from climate change. But -- oh my god, someone has weaponized it! Can the single man who designed the entire system (Gerard Butler, slumming even by his standards) who was fired by his estranged brother (Jim Sturgess, always coming across as a weasel even when he's meant to be a hero), make it back up to the International Space Station in time to whip a ragtag group of international scientists into enough shape to stop it in time? The suspense is killing me!
I'm kidding, this movie has zero suspense at any single moment. Usually the one redeeming quality of a disaster movie is the thrill of watching the disaster actually happen. Geostorm spends a lot of time setting up a premise that would be implausible even if the producers bothered to consult a single real-life scientist -- which they clearly did not -- using characters so one-dimensional that trying to care about them is like trying to have a relationship with a utility pole.
Then, freak weather occurrences do begin. There are flashes of excitement when this happens, most notably when a huge tidal wave crashes through the Dubai skyline. Of course it has to happen there, because it's the site of what is currently the world's tallest building, the 163-story, 2,717-ft tall Burj Khalifa. We get to watch that building get damaged, and then stop short of falling at an angle even a ten-year-old would know is not possible. In another sequence, underground explosions in Hong Kong cause skyscrapers to topple into each other, literally like Dominoes. What is this truly sadistic post-9/11 trend of movies showing countless skyscrapers falling down?
The "Geostorm" of the title, however, is what all these freak weather events are working toward: the idea is that so many such weather events occur that they all blend together to become one single, global weather even that destroys the world. Or something. I never said this movie made sense. Spoiler alert! (Frankly, I don't care if anyone gets mad that I spoil the "plot" of this garbage movie.) We never actually get to see the "Geostorm" happen. The heroes prevent the very thing we came to this movie to see!
What we do get to see, on the other hand, is Gerard Butler doing a bit of space-parkour in his space suit outside the International Space Station as it self-desctructs, tons of debris flying everywhere except where he happens to be at. Suspension of disbelief is one thing, and a herculean effort a it for a disaster movie is par for the course. But literally not one thing is believable in this movie. Not even that Gerard Butler and Jim Sturgess are brothers worth caring about.
You might rightly wonder why the hell I went to this movie in the first place. Surely I already knew it was going to be terrible? Indeed, I did. But I wanted to experience a "4DX" presentation at least one time, just so I can say I did. And so, a side not on "4DX": it really would not matter what the movie was, seeing a movie this way is distracting and confusing. The movement of the seat corresponds to a wide range of perspectives, from those of the characters to a simple crane shot of the camera. The seats even shake during a fist fight, leaving no sense of whose jostling we're supposed to be experiencing. There is no consistency.
One could argue, I suppose, that such inconsistency is well matched to a movie like Geostorm, which hasn't even the slightest sense of the most basic physics. That argument would be misleading. There is really no reason to see this, or any movie, in "4DX." There are even fewer reasons to see Geostorm.