Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Review - Geostorm - climate of disbelief as US fail to get blame for global genocide & weaponising the weather

Disaster movies often follow a tried and tested format. A hurricane threatens to wipe out a city and a science academic known to someone in the Whitehouse is plucked out of obscurity to eliminate its threat before more than a few hundred extras are killed and the countdown clock reaches zero. An asteroid is hurtling towards Earth and an American-led effort is launched into space to intercept it and save everyone on the planet below.

Geostorm turns things on its head. In this movie, the US might be the cause of the problem. They underwrote the (internationally-assisted) construction of a ‘Dutch Boy’ satellite-based system to control the extreme weather patterns that “everyone was warned about but no one listened”. But the system meant to plug its meteorological finger in the climate change dyke is failing.
“I want a full dissection of all components, priority one!”

Cue a race to uncover the sabotage in parallel with the perpetrators rushing to complete their evil plan. The heroes of the piece are two brothers. Jake (played by Gerard Butler) is the rule-ignoring genius behind the design of the system who subsequently lost his job and his family; his brother Max (Jim Sturgess) coordinated the international collaboration and sacked his brother. The two don’t get on – though unlike Cain and Abel they don’t murder each other – but have to overcome their differences for the sake of the planet. Add to that an illicit relationship with Secret Service agent (Abbie Cornish) who has proximity to the US President in case the plot needs someone to help stop the giant countdown clock, and a space station commander (Alexandra Maria Lara) who does all the risky stuff herself.

Suspend your disbelief that the International Space Station which is currently 73m long has inside a matter of years been expanded into an enormous orbiting factory with gravity everywhere on board making the rotating wheel seem a tad superfluous. Be thankful that spacesuits that today take half an hour to get into with assistance can be randomly walked up to and donned alone in a matter of seconds. Such great technological advances just around the corner to look forward to.

Molten lava bubbles to the surface in Hong Kong, giant hailstones fall in Tokyo, an icy breeze freezes the swim suited paddlers on a beach in Rio, twisters sip through Mumbai and a tsunami floods Dubai causing high rise destruction.

And yet there is no examination of the worldwide upset at a US-controlled system malfunctioning and causing the genocide – or at best failing to stop these devastating incidents from killing – of what must be tens of millions of people given the population densities involved. Instead, these catastrophes are an excuse for a series of well executed car chases, one involving a rather excellent electric SMART car, the other an orange autonomous taxi.

The inevitable goodbye does not drip with emotion because one family’s loss cannot be compared with the on-screen massacre already observed. A self-destruct sequence sets a new world record for leisurely and half-hearted annihilation of a facility, and raises questions about whether the ISS could be switched off and on again to fix a dilemma.

As a disaster movie Geostorm succeeds in not being boring and in combining action up in low Earth orbit with the goings on along the US east coast. There are a few clever plot devices and if it wasn’t for the pesky fact that the climatic devastation pre-geostorm seems of such epic proportions that the full thing when the countdown hits zero couldn’t conceivably be much worse, and the pesky slaughter of millions due to rogue US foreign policy, it could be an okay film.

Geostorm is hard to miss in local cinemas. Bring an umbrella in case there’s a hailstorm when you leave the building.

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