Thursday, January 18, 2018

GEOSTORM (2017) (Blu-ray Review)

Label: Warner Bros.
Region Code: A
Rating: PG-13
Duration: 109 Minutes 
Audio: English DTS-HD MA Surround 5.1 with  English, Latin Spanish, Parisian French, Canadian French, Brazilian Portuguese Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widscreen (2.40:1) 
Director: Dean Devlin
Cast: Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Alexandra Maria Lara, Daniel Wu, Eugenio Derbez, Ed Harris, Andy Garcia

Synopsis: After an unprecedented series of natural disasters threatened the planet, the world’s leaders came together to create an intricate network of satellites to control the global climate and keep everyone safe. But now, something has gone wrong—the system built to protect the Earth is attacking it, and it’s a race against the clock to uncover the real threat before a worldwide geostorm wipes out everything...and everyone along with it.

Disaster movies have been around since the advent of cinema, but they really seemed to take root in the seventies when I was a kid, that decade saw a lot of bloated, star-studded catastrophe film, we got everything from swarms of killer bees, sinking of gigantic boats and the dangers of air travel, always with huge casts of stars who seemingly needed a easy payday. These movies have almost always put the asses of moviegoers in the seats. In the 90's we had Twister (1996) and Independence Day (1996), then the ought's brought us The Day After Tomorrow (2004), 2012 (2009), and  San Andreas (2015). Arguably the worst of these is the inflated and overly dumb sequel to ID4, Independence Day: Resurgence (2016) - a mind-numbing slice of invading alien sci-fi, a film that sapped all my apocalyptic enthusiasm at the cinemas when I took my son to it. It was just so damn dumb, but the more I watch these big budget disaster pics the more I realize that, yeah, these are supposed to be just big, dumb movies, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

Which brings us to the very big, and very dumb Geostorm (2017), a climate/technology gone wrong disaster pic that has the kernel of good idea that wouldn't seem out of place on an episode of the dystopian tech TV anthology Black Mirror, here we have a series of satellites that form a net around the Earth that monitors and controls weather systems around the world, preventing catastrophic weather patterns, but something goes wrong...  add to that equation a silly, sensationalistic Syfy channel name like GEOSTORM - a worldwide storm! Now add writer/director Dean Devlin (the writer of ID4, Godzilla, Independence Day: Resurgence, ugh) to the disaster-epic mixing bowl in his directorial debut and you have one of the dumbest and poorly executed of all the big-budget disaster movies, and that's saying something my friends, this thing make 2012 (2009) and San Adreas (2015) seem like apocalyptic masterpieces by comparison - actually no it doesn't, that's just review hyperbole, and if you've seen those movies you know they are not.  

I'll give it that it's eye-candy to a degree, but there's so much green screen and digital special effects that at times it just feels like a cut scene from a video game without the character and story development. What the movie does offer is some fun weather-related mayhem, such as an Afghanistan village being frozen in an instant, the same happens in Brazil, a fire-nado (total Syfy stuff right there!) in Hong Kong, and in Mumbai a massive typhoon threatens to topple the high-tech hi-rises. A lot of that sort of thing, it's fun as onscreen action that makes you sort of forget how dumb it all is, but not really. As eye-candy goes I didn't much care for any of the natural disaster stuff, it was all so familiar, the scenes of Gerard Butler and his team in space were slightly more entertaining, a mix of actual sets and cool digital special effects offer some decent visuals - even if there's way too may fiery explosions in the airless vacuum of space! 

The cast features some notable names, Gerrard Butler is no stranger to this sort of big-budget hokum, having appeared in Olympus Has Fallen (2009) and Gods of Egypt (2016) just to name a few, he's always likable but there's not much to do about such a poorly written set of characters, including a the US President played by Andy Garcia (The Godfather III) and a Secretary of State played by Ed Harris (Knightriders), who are clearly here for the payday, and I don't blame them, movie stars have been appearing in these epic piles of disaster dreck for ages.

The mystery of the movie is who's sabotaged the satellite system to cause of the destructive weather on Earth, and about 10-minutes into the movie my son leaned over and told me exactly who he though was the culprit - and he was right, it wasn't too hard to figure out. 

Audio/Video: Geostorm (2017) arrives on Blu-ray + DVD + Digital from Warner Bros. in 1080p HD framed in 2.40:1 widescreen. The visuals are sharp and crisp, the Blu-ray presentation is top-notch, I didn't think much of the movie or the overwhelming digital special effects but they are reproduced with all the technical proficiency you would expect from the HD format. 

The original press release promised at Dolby Atmos® audio track, but that's not the case with the retail product, we get a DTS-HD MA Surround 5.1, like the visuals, it's a cacophonous din of destruction and big-budget chaos, if you're looking for a loud  home theater experience this one delivers the goods. 

Special Features:
- “Wreaking Havoc: Cutting edge visual effects, research and technology create the world of Geostorm (7 min) HD
- Search for Answers: Inspired by his daughter’s question of why can’t global warming be stopped, Director Dean Devlin retraces the creative journey that led to Geostorm. (4 min) HD
- An International Event: A global cast opens up about the secrets behind Geostorm (6 min) HD 

Geostorm (2017) really is a hot pile of disaster-shit, but if this sort of massive, big-budget, dumb as a box of rocks, world-wide destruction floats your apocalyptic pontoon boat then by all means have it my friends, I myself enjoy quite a few bad b-movies, just don't invite me over for a re-watch of this unless there's a case of Guinness Stout on hand, and then it's only a maybe.

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