‘Geostorm’: No disaster, for the most part

Great: a network of weather-controlling satellites has been established to prevent environmental disasters.

Not so great: That network has gone haywire, and actually is starting to cause said disasters.

And there you have the story of “Geostorm,” which harks back to such movies as “Meteor” and “The Day After Tomorrow” with its theme of Mother Nature run amok. Though it tries to make itself more important than it is by adding aspects of politics and climate change, at its heart, it’s just a good old disaster movie – and it works best when it lets the audience take it on that level.

Gerard Butler, who’s never met a rebel role he didn’t like, plays the mastermind of the satellites – thrown off the project because of his hotheadedness. However, several years later, he’s brought back to try to correct things from the International Space Station when those orbiting wonders start to cause bad things to happen on Earth.

Gerard Butler in “Geostorm”

That’s not enough for “Geostorm,” though, and it’s here that the movie runs into as much trouble as what happens to the cities it targets. Butler’s alter ego also has to contend with his brother (Jim Sturgess), who’s the one who fired him, and whose girlfriend (Abbie Cornish) is an agent protecting the president … which just happens to be the job Butler had himself in “Olympus Has Fallen” and “London Has Fallen.” Andy Garcia plays the chief executive here, with Ed Harris another very familiar face featured.

For those who know their sci-fi films, “Geostorm” follows a tradition of stories about trying to manipulate the weather and what a really bad idea that typically is. (For a classically kitschy example, also see the ’60s James Coburn spy spoof “Our Man Flint.”) Recent real-life examples of nature’s cataclysms have made the picture somewhat more timely than initially expected, but at its base, it’s still principally a tribute to long-standing movie tropes.

From a technical standpoint, “Geostorm” is in the right hands, since director and co-writer Dean Devlin is a veteran of such movies as “Stargate” and “Independence Day.” Its problems really come when it tries to reach beyond its genre and make big statements. As long as it’s just doing its essential job of wreaking havoc on our planet, the forecast for “Geostorm” is fine.

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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