Normally at this time of year the IFE landscape tends to be dominated by two types of films. That first flush of serious award season contenders like Best Picture nominees Dunkirk, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and Get Out, and Oscar also-rans like Chasing Christopher Robin, Stronger, and Battle of the Sexes. But if you’re up for something a little less challenging, there’s always plenty of award season chasers to be found on the dial as well. And this year the cheap and low-down anti-Oscar bait stinker to beat is Geostorm, which might just be the worst movie playing in the air right now.
Directed by veteran disaster movie producer Dean Devlin (Stargate, Independence Day, Godzilla) in his feature film debut, Geostorm has all the hallmarks of Devlin’s earlier blockbusters with longtime producing partner/director Roland Emmerich (The Day After Tomorrow, 2012) but none of the big, cheesy heart that made those films so much fun.
The other thing Geostorm is lacking is any semblance of movie star sizzle. Which isn’t to say you must have a name player attached to make a disaster movie work, but when a movie is as bad as Geostorm, it definitely helps. But rather than recruiting the likes of a Will Smith or The Rock, Devlin and company gift us with the Scottish guy from 300 (Gerard Butler), the English bloke from Across the Universe (Jim Sturgess) and the Australian chick from Sucker Punch (Abbie Cornish) playing Americans about as convincingly as Dick Van Dyke played a cockney chimney sweep in Mary Poppins. And believe it or not, the horrible accents are the least of Geostorm’s problems.
Dry, boring, and almost criminally unfunny, Geostorm doesn’t even do disaster well and aside from a pretty cool lava storm in Hong Kong, most of the big-ticket action sequences feel like low-rent outtakes from a Michael Bay movie. Which is even more disappointing considering Devlin’s knack for memorably blowing up stuff onscreen in the 1990’s.
Set in a not too distant future where the world’s wild weather is safely controlled by a massive international weather satellite known as Dutch Boy, Geostorm opens with Dutch Boy’s creator, Jake Lawson (Butler), being fired from the project for neutralizing a typhoon without the US government’s permission. Making matters worse is the fact that the State Department official tasked with firing Jake is his kid brother, Max (Sturgess). But three years later, when someone or something starts using Dutch Boy to unleash weather-related havoc on countries around the globe, Jake is brought back in to fix things as only he can. Or die trying…
Featuring suitably ridiculous supporting performances from Oscar nominees Ed Harris as an oily Secretary of State and Andy Garcia as “the goddamn President” – yes, that’s an actual quote – Geostorm’s one bright spot is Atlanta’s Zazie Beetz as a sly, streetwise hacker who helps Max when things go south. Having made a name for herself in smaller parts on indie TV series like Margot vs. Lily and Easy, one can only hope that Beetz steers her way to sunnier shores after suffering through dreck like this.
Now playing on select Lufthansa, Emirates, United, American Airlines, Singapore Airlines, and Etihad Airways flights worldwide, Geostorm is also available via streaming on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon Video.