New Releases for Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Directed by: Dean Devlin
Run time: 109 minutes
The Lowdown: It’s funny to me how quick movie audiences, and critics, are to denounce certain films, based solely on its premise or its marketing campaign.
Some new releases, like Geostorm, are nothing more than bigger-budget versions of the same B-movies that used to populate local theaters in the 1980s and ‘90s. And that alone should not poison the public’s opinion before they even have a chance to check out the glorious cheese.
And Geostorm is pure Velveeta, through and through. It’s like a gooey, fresh off the stove, grilled cheddar sandwich. It’s the equivalent of movie comfort food. And, even better, the majority of the damn movie is set in space!
Geostorm is the reason why the SyFy Channel exists. It’s a big-budget disaster flick cloaking a hidden agenda – to remind viewers, regardless of political party, that climate change is real. At least, I think that’s the point of the apocalyptic opening sequence that shows natural disasters while a child narrates.
Geostorm actually has a decent pedigree, having been written and directed by Dean Devlin, the same guy who wrote Universal Soldier, Stargate, Independence Day and the 1998 iteration of Godzilla. I think it’s fair to say we’ve finally forgiven him for that one.
Anyway, the whole point of Geostorm is that global warming has reached such a tipping point that the world’s super powers get together in support of a radical scientific endeavor conceived by none other than Gerard Butler, his Scottish accent on proud display. Butler designs a system that is launched into space to create a kind of galactic safety net that is controlled from an international space hub and basically helps control Mother Nature.
What could go wrong? Our government – duh!
Years later, after his hubris gets him expelled from the very program he created, Butler is living in Florida and restoring vintage automobiles when he gets a visit from his brother with an offer he can’t refuse.
Someone has hacked into the space system and is weaponizing the weather to attack different countries in advance of a monumental occasion where the U.S. will hand off daily control of the system to a global consortium of scientists to oversee.
Imagine Armageddon with weather instead of an asteroid.
Butler and his brother haven’t spoken in years, which provides plenty of opportunities for Butler to bluster in his native tongue.
Andy Garcia plays the president and gets to say the one line that every movie president longs to say: ‘Get me the one man who can fix this problem!’
In a flash, Butler is in orbit because apparently in addition to constructing a massive weather-controlling space grid, the U.S. also has developed the equivalent of a galactic taxi system that can take off with little notice. I only wish Butler had stopped, before boarding, and said, ‘What am I doing today? I’m going to space! To fix shit!’
Meanwhile, back on Earth, Butler’s brother becomes more deeply embroiled in trying to figure out who is playing domestic terrorist with the weather.
So, Geostorm is not only a disaster film, but it’s a political espionage thriller AND it’s Die Hard in space.
Before long, the crap hits the fan across the country. Lightning destroys Orlando. Giant space lasers burn up Moscow. Tornadoes wipe out Mumbai.
And Butler gets to kick ass in zero gravity. And discover a love interest. And make up with his brother via some new-fangled technology that allows holographic video calls.
At a certain point, Geostorm not only jumps the shark, it kills the shark by boiling the oceans. It’s like Devlin took one too many huffs off a bottle of Poppers and kept writing the script while crowing, ‘Wheeeeeeeee…I’m on a roller coaster without a safety belt…what else can I blow up?!’
As accusations fly, and loyalties are broken, and people are fighting and shooting at each other both on Earth and in space, Butler figures out that only he can be the one to stay behind to save the day.
You know exactly how this is going to end, but guess what, you don’t care.
Geostorm is pure junk food for the brain. It’s like eating corn and knowing that in exactly two hours, those kernels are gonna come roaring right back out the opposite end. There’s no nutritional value to be found here.
But damn if it ain’t tasty enough to keep chowing down.
The Stuff You Care About: Hot chicks – Yes.
Nudity – No. Gore – No.
Drug use – No.
Bad Guys/Killers – Domestic terrorists who weaponize the weather (Seriously).
Buy/Rent – Rent it.
Cloverfield 4K Ultra (Paramount, 85 minutes, PG-13, 4K Ultra): Watching Cloverfield in 4K Ultra might just be the best thing, ever. If you’re a longtime fan of this highly inventive creature feature (possibly, the best ‘found footage’ film ever made), prepare to be wowed by the crisp ultra-high-definition transfer that allows you to see every wonderful detail in the monster’s face, and to marvel at just how realistic the big action set-pieces are in this format. No lie – it’s worth throwing out your old DVD or Blu-Ray versions of this cult classic and ponying up the extra cost to purchase this new 4K Ultra transfer.
Dario Argento’s Opera (Scorpion Releasing, 107 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): Some people love Dario Argento for the films that comprise his peak-giallo period (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Deep Red, Suspiria and even on through Inferno and Tenebre). Me, I love how Argento embraced the cultural hallmarks of the mid-to-late 1980s, and how that decade directly imprinted on his later work, like Phenomena and Opera, which is finally getting a deserved high-definition Blu-Ray upgrade. Opera, released in 1987, bears all of Argento’s signature hallmarks, but it benefits best from his embrace of his more lurid sensibilities and his steadfast adherence to finding unique camera angles and points of focus throughout. The opening sequence alone, populated and punctuated by a curious crow’s relationship to an opera rehearsal, gives viewers advance notice to expect the unexpected.
The Sword and the Claw (AGFA, 110 minutes, Unrated, Blu-Ray): If you love mid-to-late-1970s kung-fu films, and poorly dubbed foreign films, and ridiculously over-the-top camp, then this 1975 cult classic, The Sword and the Claw, is like your birthday and Christmas rolled into one.
It not only defies description, it defies any type of labeling whatsoever. There are many reasons to love the American Genre Film Archive. The work they do in restoring and retaining sure-to-be-lost classics like The Sword and the Claw is much needed in our digital age.
But this is a truly special release because this is a film that I’m sure escaped the notice of film lovers for decades, and it definitely deserves to be seen.
10 Cloverfield Lane 4K Ultra
Thank You for Your Service
Shockwave: Countdown to Disaster
My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea
MVD Rewind Collection: Attack of the Killer Tomatoes – 2-Disc Special Edition
Red Krokodil: Director’s Cut