Review roundup: Critics aren't exactly hailing Geostorm

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Oct 20, 2017

SPOILER WARNING: Geostorm plot points discussed below!

Another storm is brewing, and it's a big one. The latest world-ending film, Geostorm, hits theaters this weekend, and so critics are already weighing in on just how bad the damage is for this disaster movie. Spoiler: It's severe.

Dean Devlin, who penned Independence Day, makes his first foray into directing with Geostorm, a film that examines what happens when satellites that had been protecting Earth from major weather catastrophes are compromised. Brothers Jake (Gerard Butler) and Max (Jim Sturgess) secure the help of Max's fiancee and convenient Secret Service agent (Abbie Cornish) to kidnap the president (Andy Garcia) in order to save the world.

Overall reviews of the film have been ... not great. But in case you've been busy battening down the hatches, here's a quick roundup of what critics are saying.

At The List, Eddie Harrison sees some major foundational issues with the film, saying "Devlin doubles-down on the melodrama to ridiculous effect" and "such silly beats only interrupt the flow of expensive-looking CGI, the film playing out like a whistle-stop global tour to casually gawp at the deaths of untold millions before America saves the day." Not a good look.

The AV Club's Mike D'Angelo also sees an inherent problem in Geostorm -- one that many disaster films face. How do you have stakes high enough for the audience to care while still managing to give them some amount of destruction? D'Angelo says Geostorm tries to solve this issue with "a series of what can only be called pre-geostorms, which kill so many digital extras in such spectacular fashion that Jake and Max’s efforts to prevent the geostorm itself seem like too little too late. It’s hard to get invested in a routine car chase after seeing the entire city of Dubai swallowed by a tsunami, or dozens of Hong Kong skyscrapers topple like a row of dominos."

But maybe the characters redeem some of the plot and structural problems? Alas, The Hollywood Reporter's John DeFore has some issues with the characters too, saying Jake is "replaced by his brother Max (Jim Sturgess), presumably because the U.S. senators in charge understood that disaster movies, for whatever reason, require some long-seething family resentment to briefly get in the way of saving the world." In addition to the family tension injected into the plot, Abbie Cornish's character's "ethics prove remarkably flexible when her honey asks for illegal favors. (On three separate occasions, he asks her to commit possibly treasonous acts; each time, she offers one sentence of argument before agreeing.)" It's difficult to root for characters to survive a disaster if you don't quite understand them.

Overall, the film fell flat among critics. Collider's Matt Goldberg went as far to title his Geostorm review "The Big Summer Blockbuster of 1998," and then says that the film "feels positively ancient by today’s blockbuster standards, and rather than coming off like a decent throwback, Geostorm rarely achieves the bombast or melodrama necessary to make it a fun time." Ouch.

Considering the disasters we've had to face in the real world, maybe Geostorm's timing isn't so great either. Or maybe Earth wasn't as prepared for this major disaster as Devlin hoped.

But hey, critics are gonna critique, and you've disagreed with them before, right? So let us know your review in the comments below.