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Geostorm directed by Dean Devlin

Gerard Butler leads an international effort to save the planet in ‘Geostorm’ Gerard Butler leads an international effort to save the planet in ‘Geostorm’ Warner Bros
25 Oct
2017
New blockbuster takes climate chaos to the extreme, where what it lacks in coherent storyline and believable science, it makes up for in planet-destroying special effects

Bruce Willis in Armageddon. Matthew McConaughey in Interstellar. Cillian Murphy in Sunshine. Aaron Eckhart in The Core. Aren't we lucky that every time Earth is threatened, there's a white man around ready to save the day? This time it’s the turn of Gerard Butler – the grizzled, unshaven, rugged and unruly cowboy with scant regard for authority, who is also somehow the mastermind behind the world's greatest ever engineering project – to be our hero.

His creation is ‘Dutch Boy’, a planet wide web of satellites to control the world's weather, and protect us from the climate chaos we'd otherwise be facing. The premise goes: following a year of rising sea levels and murderous heatwaves in 2019, seventeen countries worked together to create a machine which could halt extreme weather events in their tracks, and ultimately stop climate change becoming the immense threat it has now become. Which is fine, until the machine begins to malfunction, creating worse climate chaos than it was built to prevent. The ultimate threat looms: simultaneous catastrophic weather events occurring all over the globe. They call it a ‘geostorm’.

Interestingly, unlike The Day After Tomorrow, or other climate-related movies in the disaster genre, the threat of climate change is taken as fact from the opening credits, as a mere backdrop to the ridiculous yet surprisingly enjoyable narrative which follows. There is no pursuading, no aggressive debate. We were warned, and we didn't change our behaviour, explains the initial contextualising narration. Eventually, the world took action; an international team of 600 constructing a machine, run out of the International Climate Space Station (ICSS), capable of somehow stabilising the planet's erratic weather systems at the touch of a button, an impossibly grand scale of geoengineering. If only it were that easy.

Whether intentional or not – my hunch would be the former – the film time-and-time again fights back against the ‘America First’ rhetoric which President Trump has so loudly espoused. Every available surface on the ICSS is covered in flags from the seventeen countries involved in creating Dutch Boy, as are the space shuttles, and the uniforms of the ICSS crew. America may be at the heart of the narrative – domestic disagreements played out in an international context, as per usual – but from the Mexican crew member (played by Eugenio Derbez) to the German ICSS commander (played by Alexandra Maria Lara), it's a multilateral team who come to the rescue at every stage. There is also no attempt to disguise the collective vitriol at one character's desire to ‘turn the clock back to 1945, when America was a shining city on a hill’. To make America great again, you could say.

8Racing from catastrophe down the street of Hong Kong in an electric car (Image: Warner Bros)

It will come as no surprise that Geostorm fails the Bechdel test catastrophically, in fact it basically didn't turn up for the exam. The plot is absurd, the dialogue ropey, the relationships two-dimensional, and the deaths of millions deemed as more of a minor regretable incovenience than an actual tragedy.

And yet, it isn't an unentertaining movie. Could Geostorm feature Hollywood's first high speed electric car chase? It's quite possible. This is nothing we haven't seen before – a plot-poor, special effects-heavy, scientifically-negligent romp around the globe that's actually quite fun to watch.

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