GeoPower! This Storm Is Stronger Than Expected

Geostorm

 

There are very few things scarier than a natural disaster.  The sheer power contained within these storms, droughts, and floods is something we as humans have difficulty containing.  Now what would happen if that power could be harnessed by humans, manipulated to our whim in order to keep our world acclimated and functioning perfectly?  Could such a thing be used for good, or would it merely be repurposed as a weapon?  This question is the key concept in my next movie review, titled Geostorm, the latest disaster flick to “storm” into the theaters.  Pun aside, Robbie K is back for another overview, so let’s get started, shall we?

 

LIKES:

 

The Sound:  My first like is the incredible sound editing Geostorm contains within it.  These editors “blew” me away with the fantastic renditions of Mother Nature’s torment, capturing all those destructive sounds and unleashing them into the theater.  Lightning filled maelstroms, horrendous fires, and bone chilling ice storms all drop with mighty blow, causing the theater to rumble in delight.  This effect may not seem like much, but it really rounds the experience out and immerses you into the havoc.

 

The Visuals:  No surprise here, Geostorm’s visuals are also beautiful displays of technology.  We know this genre is all about making disasters look real, and this film brings that power out with little hesitancy.  Watching destruction unfold is breathtaking, as the terrifying mayhem of the manmade storms unfold, helping you experience the horror without actually being there.  Geostorm’s displays, although limited in number, are the selling point of this film, especially during the exciting moments when our characters are trying to navigate their way through the destruction.

 

Acting:  Sometimes these disaster movies tank on the cast, resulting in whiny, nimrod characters who are asking to be sucked up into a twister.  Not the case for this film. Geostorm’s cast is actually fantastic in bringing their characters to life, and also brings an awesome team to the mix to diversify the genre.  Gerard Butler was a solid choice for the lead, combining action gruff with scientific strategy to craft a tough as nails character to lead the project.  This dynamic nature made a fun hero to root for while seeing him evolve past his flaws.  Jim Sturgess does a bang-up job in his role as well, playing the role of the neurotic congressmen forced to choose between family and job.  His character required a much broader class of emotions, and he manages to hit all of these with little trouble. As for the female leads of Abbie Cornish and Alexandra Maria Lara, these women were incredible displays of girl power in the modern world.  No super powers needed here, for these women have intelligence, ferocity, and heart as they tackle all the demands this movie placed on them, and all with a realistic touch.  I wished they had utilized them a little more, but they maximized their screen time.

 

The Story:  Despite how cheesy it looked, Geostorm’s story was better than I expected.  The characters have some backstory not lost to the storm, requiring them to grow much like the threat of total cataclysm. During the actual presentation itself, Geostorm is nicely divided into four sections each occurring simultaneously and playing important roles to the dilemma at hand.  Throw in a little mystery to figure out the culprits, and you have a more engaging story line than we typically see in these films.  All in all, they managed to execute this ridiculous concept quite well for me.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Storm moments:  Despite the promise of major cataclysm, Geostorm is surprisingly bare of storm sequences for much of the movie.  Many of these scenes are in the background, with only a few having that thrilling, on the seat edge. In addition, despite being thrilling, these moments get a little too ridiculous, the sheer unrealistic maneuvers violating the science without the technology to do so.  While I appreciate, the disasters fitting into the movie, they still needed a little refining.

 

The Predictability: Geostorm tries its best to throw you off the trail to the culprits, but the trailers and obvious foreshadowing will give you the answer within the first 30 minutes. In addition, the fate of other characters is not surprising at all, mostly because they figure things out minutes within the film.  Had it not been for the visuals and exciting pace, the story would have been drab and put me to sleep.  I’ll admit there was a nice little uncertain moment, reminiscent of a few other flicks you are certain to remember.  Past that though, it’s a predictable mess indeed.

 

Underutilized team:  Like many films, our protagonist becomes part of a special team in charge of fixing the problem.  Unfortunately, after the introductions, most of the team is essentially useless save two members who actually get more screen time.  While not as bad as the gang from Wonder Woman, this group just didn’t feel needed in the grand scheme of the picture and could have been utilized in a more conducive environment to add a little more suspense in the mix. Either that or cut the characters to help the budget.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Despite the cheesy idea, Geostorm was a welcome change to the natural disaster movie collection.  Stunning special effects, a Sci-Fi Esque story, and dynamic characters are certain to entertain fans of this genre and bring with it a nice twist.  However, if you are looking for a storm movie, you need to pick another tale as the disasters are a minimum or overly cheesy to be believable.  Throw in some weaker story elements and predictable plot, and you further weaken the storm they were trying to bring.  Overall not a bad film at all, and the special effects are more than worthy of a theater visit. Otherwise check this one out when it hits home release.

 

My Scores:

 

Action/Sci-Fi/Thriller:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

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Rock Solid Earthquake Movie, But Still Cracked In Some Areas

San Andreas

RELEASED: 2015, May
GENRE: Suspense, Thriller, Natural Disaster Movie
DURATION: 154 min(s)
DIRECTOR: Brad Peyton
ACTORS: Dwayne Johnson, Alexandria Daddario, Carla Gugino
PLOT: In the beautiful state of California, the southern cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Bakersfield are enjoying their usual routines. However, all that changes when an earthquake in Nevada occurs, starting a chain reaction capable of destroying the entire state. LA fire chief Ray (Dwayne Johnson) finds himself dragged into the epicenter of the chaos when his daughter Blake (Daddario) and wife Emma (Gugino) become entangled in the disaster.

ACTORS’ PERFORMANCE: For a disaster movie you don’t expect much in terms of acting outside of lots of screaming and a stone cold, brave protagonist. Surprisingly San Andreas’ characters slightly deviate from that formula. Johnson is ever the stoic macho man, who seems capable of anything. He primarily keeps his cool, but for once has some tragic backstory that adds some emotional turmoil and realism to his pallet. Daddario has certainly grown up from her Percy Jackson days, and continues to impress with me with her roles. Despite looking like a shallow twenty year old, Daddario has some depth to her simple role as her character pulls out some survival skills while still be vulnerable to fear. Gugino further shows women rock, as she too jumps into the ravaged quake zones to help Johnson achieve his goals. Her character starts off moot, but eventually transitions into an action woman while also assisting in keeping the plot moving, something that can be hard to do. Paul Giamatti nails the tectonics expert role, bringing a plethora of qualities to a stereotypical role that not only “explains” the science involved, but also brings some purpose to the film.
SCENES: San Andreas brings jaw dropping special effects to the fray, showing what a major earthquake in California could look like. The design team has done a fine job editing computer-generated sequences of buildings collapsing alongside live action sequences involving props “falling” on extras. Camera work adds some depth to the scenes, and for once tumbling cameras actually add to the detail of the movie, “It’s a Miracle”. Sound editing also hits home as a powerful symphony score is mixed into the rumbles, crashes, and explosions granting the feel as if this was a judgment from the heavens. In case you haven’t gotten yet, this may be the best part of the movie.

LIKED: San Andreas is one of the better suspense movies I’ve seen in a while. Most movies involve the cast making stupid choices so that we can get more suspense and thrills. This film does a decent job of piecing the events together to give a point to the adventure and putting the chaos as a secondary quality. This is helped by dividing the story into three components: detecting the quake, being in the quake, and getting into the quake zone to rescue. By balancing these three plots, I felt as if I was watching a disaster unfold, while also experiencing the horror of the city coming apart. Jumping around kept the movie entertaining, while keeping the simplistic plot moving as the three plots converge to a close. Another like is the variety of action involving stunts like aircraft piloting, debris dodging, and even skydiving all used to get to their goals. The character development was not half bad, not only adding definition to a limited role, but also helping maintain interest and emotional connections to the cast.

DISLIKED: Like all disaster movies, the obvious foreshadowing in both dialog and camerawork, gives away an already predictable plot. Most likely that won’t “shake” you up too much, but still surprise keeps things interesting. Second is the lack of buildup of the earthquake. Think about how most disaster movies start to teasing you before the storm hits, you get hyped up for what is about to come and it makes the movie more exciting. Not this one, the earthquake just hits and then bam the buildings begin to fall. In addition we could have used a little more character development to help out with the simple heroes, especially when there was so much tension at the start of the film. Conflicts kind of died down, forgiveness and acceptance happening in the blink of an eye (like that ever happens). As a side note, I wished they had done more with the Rock’s team they introduced in the beginning. Some of my favorite natural disaster movies involve a crack team going into the void to save the innocents, and this one could have greatly benefited from such an element.

FINAL THOUGHTS: All in all, San Andreas plays its role as a thriller, giving you some suspense, some laughs, and digital destruction in one weekend. It was better than I expected, but still lacks a lot of other qualities I like to see in a movie. One thing that most will like is the beautiful specimens on the screen and the strong heroic qualities they have that may get your fire going. Those looking for some fantastic digital work and an exciting adventure should pay a visit to the theater for this one, but otherwise stick to the home renting.

My scores are:

Action/Drama/Thriller: 7.5-8.0

Movie Overall: 6.5