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Geostorm

In the 1970’s, the ‘disaster movie’ was a popular genre. With a group of well-known actors facing a natural or human-made calamity, the formula carved a niche in cinema history. Whilst it faded after the decade of disco and flares, variations have been seen since. ‘Geostorm’ is the latest pitting humanity against a potentially unstoppable force. Although the cast is less starry than before, its disastrous aims are still high as it proves how fun it can be to see silver screen peril.

In the distant future, earth’s climate is controlled by a bevy of satellites used to offset global warming. This flounders when they begin to mysteriously malfunction. Sending deadly pods into the earth which can generate enormous storms, the world quickly faces extinction. Sending chief scientist and astronaut Jake (Gerald Butler) into space while his brother Max (Jim Sturgess) handles things on earth, humanity’s fate rests in their hands against nature’s unending fury.

‘Geostorm’ is a strange mix of conspiracy thriller, sci-fi, action and disaster genres. It shouldn’t work nearly as well as it does which is entirely due to the strong performances and exciting script. It doesn’t always fully achieve its ambitious targets but it’s a fun ride overall with great CGI. Director Dean Devlin knows this type of movie well having produced similar works such as ‘Independence Day’ and ‘2012’. Those films are referenced several times in ‘Geostorm’ that’s so ridiculously over the top you may as well enjoy it.

‘Geostorm’ knows what type of film it wants to be and runs with it at full speed. Dull moments are few with the perfectly pitched performances taking things with stoic seriousness amidst a wave of outlandish incidents. It is interesting watching problems solved in space and earth simultaneously with the brothers sorting through their personal differences millions of miles away. But we’re not watching a family drama as ‘Geostorm’ is resolutely ‘brain at the door’-style movie-making.

Although a silly load of nonsense, ‘Geostorm’ remains engaging. It’s not earth-shattering and nor is it in danger of winning Oscars. But it provides a spectacle allowing the viewer to sit back and marvel at the imaginative ways earth can be destroyed and how wicked the minds of film-makers can be.

Rating out of 10: 6

Blade Runner 2049

Film-makers are on a hiding for nothing if they tinker with a beloved movie. Where others have wisely let things be, several directors and producers have continued to squeeze a concept for more dollars. Creating another story from a seminal classic is a risky proposition but one that ‘Blade Runner 2049’ succeeds in doing. An equally stunning journey into a bleak universe as the original ‘Blade Runner’ in 1982, it hits well-trodden beats while forging a path uniquely its own.

LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling) is on a mission. After discovering a secret that could spell humanity’s extinction, K is in for a shock. When the secret leads him to Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), an agent long missing, K’s world is torn asunder. With deadly government types on their trail, K and Deckard fight for their lives. Death and destruction become their only companions in a battle to save the planet from imminent destruction.

‘Blade Runner 2049’ is a definite visual feast. Filled with amazing cinematography and superb CGI, it truly embraces its epic aims. It’s one of the few movies this year that needs to be seen in a cinema as the small screen would never capture its remarkable vistas. But its main selling point is its story which is generally involving and interesting. Given the enormous run-time of nearly 3 hours, there’s a lot of ‘breathing space’ for characterisation and plot. With some exceptions, both are mostly well handled under Denis Villeneuve’s skilful direction.

Ford and Gosling know the ropes with these types of sagas by now and make for fine heroes. Whilst ‘Blade Runner 2049’ is long, it isn’t too slow paced even if there are a few scenes that could have been cut. More frustrating are the unresolved plot threads annoyingly hinting at sequels which this movie doesn’t need. Although echoing moments from the original film, new viewers are kept up to speed with prior events. This enables the easy to follow story to be enjoyed by all without pandering to established fans.

Although having a few issues in terms of not using its huge canvas as well as it should, ‘Blade Runner 2049’ is still worth seeing. The visuals alone are astonishing and deserve to be seen on the biggest screen possible. It’s always good seeing Harrison Ford in a solid film as well with the grizzled veteran maintaining his rugged charms amidst a sea of perfectly groomed stars.

Rating out of 10: 7