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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

The Snowman

If Agatha Christie was Britain’s ‘Queen of Crime’, then crime writer Jo Nesbo must be Norway’s ‘King’. Like Christie, Nesbo’s novels have been enormously popular for their intricate plotting and puzzling thrills. Everyone loves a whodunit with the guessing game adding to a story’s fun. Adapted from one of his books, ‘The Snowman’ tries to replicate the thrill-rides of Nesbo’s books. Although well cast, it’s a murky thriller whose murderous pathways becomes more muddled with each frame.

Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) is a lead detective from an elite crime squad. Known for tackling challenging cases, his latest tests his skills. Investigating a woman’s disappearance, he fears an old enemy has resurfaced. Dubbed ‘The Snowman’, a killer who murders victims during snowfall, the evil perpetrator remains elusive. Aided by new recruit Katrine (Rebecca Ferguson), Harry races against the clock to capture the killer before more people are dispatched.

‘The Snowman’ suffers from a clumsy narrative and terrible editing. It almost feels like parts of the story are missing, making for confusing viewing. Nesbo’s work thrives on its detail and imagination – little of which is seen here. Blame could be placed on Tomas Alfredson’s uninspired direction with his lacklustre attempts at generating atmosphere continually falling flat. Most of the brickbats should go to a script poorly choosing which plot points to use and discard, leaving a jumbled mess of a movie.

The performances are fine although ‘The Snowman’ deserved better. The story begins intriguingly but as the red herrings and clues pile up, so do the inconsistencies. Scenes flicking back and forth to past events only add to the general confusion with character’s motivations remaining unclear. Whilst the stunning cinematography creates moody atmosphere, the editing and voice dubbing for certain actors are simply atrocious.

At parts inspired and others totally amateurish, ‘The Snowman’ scrambles its way to a conclusion. It proves that adapting books isn’t always successful with some stories perhaps best left between its pages. Future Nesbo adaptations should take heed of ‘The Snowman’s failures with the culprits of this celluloid whodunit easy to guess.

Rating out of 10: 5