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Film / Geostorm

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Geostorm is a 2017 disaster film directed by Dean Devlin and starring Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris, Abbie Cornish, Richard Schiff, Alexandra Maria Lara, Robert Sheehan, Daniel Wu, Eugenio Derbez, and Andy García.

20 Minutes into the Future, when climate-controlling satellites malfunction and release disaster-creating small pods all over the world, Jake Lawson and his other fellow astronauts head into space to prevent the satellites from programming the small pods into creating a storm of epic proportions. They soon discover that the disasters weren't caused by a malfunction, but were done with intention and the only person who has the kill codes to shut down the satellites is President Andrew Palma.

Not to be confused with a 90s arcade game whose sequel is titled Geo Storm in certain regions.

Geostorm provides examples of:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The film is set sometime in 2022, and while most regular tech looks to be on par with what was common in 2017, electric cars (at least some of them with autopilot) seem to be much more prevalent, and space technology is a lot more advanced than anything available to mankind when the movie was released.
  • Action Girl: Sarah starts the movie doing little else but standing around, showing cleavage and generally looking pretty, but once shit starts hitting the fan, she leaves no doubt as to how she made it into the Secret Service. President Palma sums it up nicely after some particularly impressive stunts on her part.
    Palma: [to Max] Marry her!
  • Advancing Wall of Doom: Available in a whole bunch of flavors like water, ice, sand, storms, or fire.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The theme song for the Japanese release is "Dinosaur" by B'z.
  • America Saves the Day: Played With. On one hand, the protagonists are American. On the other hand, they are being helped by a Multinational Team. On the other hand, Dekkom, Palma's Secretary, is trying to kill off Presidential candidates, and eradicate America's enemies, and is doing so with the help of his cronies in the Secret Service, and Duncan, an Evil Brit.
  • America Takes Over the World: Dekkom's ultimate goal is to make America the world's dominant nation with him as its leader.
  • Amoral Afrikaner: One of Dekkom's goons has a South African accent.
  • And Starring: "With Ed Harris and Andy García"
  • Apocalypse How: Class 0 slowly escalating into a Class 3a, possibly even a Class 4. The Dutch Boy satellites are infected with a virus that is causing them to screw with otherwise pleasant weather over a growing number of cities until they turn into the titular geostorm.
  • Apocalypse Wow: We see cities getting wrecked in detail. And at one point, Dubai gets swamped by a massive tidal wave powerful enough to partially topple the Burj Khalifa.
  • Artificial Gravity: The ICSS (International Climate Space Station or ISS IV as it's referred to as The Game) has solid Earth-like gravity even in sections that aren't spinning, and whatever's generating it can apparently be tuned so precisely that people can instantly go from 1G to zero-G and back simply by crossing any airlock threshold. How that's possible is never touched upon.
  • Artistic License – Physics: The film was made by one of the guys responsible for Stargate, so Geostorm following in its footsteps shouldn't be too much of a surprise. One of the most blatant examples is probably the Hong Kong scene where a weather control machine in space somehow manages to heat up subterranean gas pipelines until they glow red-hot and melt through the tarmac above while the people in the streets merely go through a stifling heat wave instead of being cooked alive. Then as people look on, the camera also pans over to a car's computer screen which displays the current temperature - in Fahrenheit, a system not used outside of the US. But hey, it looks awesome, so it's okay.
  • Artistic License – Politics: While 2022 was an election year in the United States, presidential elections take place every four years, with the next scheduled for 2024.
  • Badass Boast: When Palma, with the help of the Secret Service, escapes Dekkom's attempt to kill him with a rocket launcher, Dekkom asks how he did it. Palma replies, "How? Because I'm the goddamn President of the United States of America!"
  • Big Bad: Secretary of State Leonard Dekkom is revealed to be the one who ordered the hacking of the Dutch Boy satellites and perpetrated the titular Geostorms.
  • Bilingual Bonus: After an incident where Jack smashes through solar panels, Hernandez tells him about the damaged stuff, and then adds "¡Te chingaste los paneles solares papá!"Translation 
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Dutch Boy satellites are restored, the Government Conspiracy is thwarted, and the geostorm is averted, but millions of people are dead because of the chaos.
  • Bookends: The film begins and ends with an off-screen narration from Hannah.
  • Brick Joke: Jake at one point recounts a tale of him and his brother going fishing with their father when they were young, as a way to transmit a hidden message to Max. In the film's final scene, Jake, Max and Hannah are sitting on a pier facing Cape Canaveral, fishing rods in hand.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Early in the film, Max mentions a code he and Jake used to use as kids. Jake claims to not remember it. Later, however, Jake is able to send a message to Max using the code: "Proof of sabotage at the highest levels of government. Trust no one."
    • When told to find a car, Max ends up stealing a self-driving taxi that he's set to manual. They later set it on autopilot and point it at the Big Bad, letting him believe they're still inside so they can ambush him.
  • Computer Virus: The apparent "failures" of the Dutch Boy Satellites are in truth caused by a virus planted in them by the Big Bad's Mole, with the end goal of obliterating every "enemy" of the USA.
  • Cool Starship: The ICSS is so important and has such a large crew complement that an entire fleet of nifty orbital shuttles is required to keep it supplied, with at least a dozen occupied launch platforms stretching off into the distance at Cape Canaveral. The shuttles themselves look like much more advanced versions of present-days space shuttles, have enough seats for a platoon, are impressively maneuverable, and even come with large panorama windows.
  • Covers Always Lie: While the film really does devastate a major city with a huge tidal wave, a scene like the one on the page image never happens; especially not with what's heavily implied to be the main character and his kid daughter.
  • Deus ex Machina: At no point in the narrative is it even hinted at that the remote-controlled, 100% automated Dutch Boy satellites have a passenger compartment, let alone one that's big enough to comfortably fit two people in full EVA gear and must take up at least half the satellite's internal space for no good reason. It gives the finale a very sudden out-of-left-field twist that borders on Ass Pull due to the lack of foreshadowing and its scientific absurdity, even by this film's generally low standards in the plausibility department.
  • Did Not Think This Through: The Big Bad's plan is pretty stupid when you stop to think about it. Dekkom basically wants to rewind history back to 1945 when America was at the height of its global power, by utterly annihilating its rivals and enemies. Thing is, it's hard to be the shining leader of mankind when there's nothing left to lead, and even harder to assert dominance over a planet that's almost completely wrecked beyond recovery, perhaps even covered by a perpetual worldwide monster storm. What's more, he never explains how he intended to stop the geostorm after killing the only person capable of doing so, and there was no guarantee whatsoever that it couldn't have escalated beyond all predictions.
    • It seemed he did plan to leave some countries unscathed. Except for Washington, which was targeted for a different reason, every single one of the places was a threat to the US either economically (like Hong Kong), culturally (Dubai, Moscow, the desert in Afghanistan), or mix of other complicated factors (Rio, Mumbai). Dekkom would likely leave most of Europe and North America unscathed while targeting second and third world nations. That does not rule out that the countries on his approved list won't suffer any collateral damage.
    • Not only that, but in being stopped, there's a good chance that the objective of the Big Bad was mostly accomplished, with the worst effects being curbed: Had he succeeded, the US would've likely been dragged down along with the rest of the world. Instead, the damage the satellites likely caused in those hours (based on the amount of devastation in Rio, Mumbai, and Dubai in particular) is likely to knock the rest of the global economy for a loop for some time...possibly for years or decades if the weather takes more than a few hours to "unwind" from the brink of global catastrophe. Dekkom was right: Palma likely gets the world Dekkom wanted to produce, albeit at the price of Dekkom going down for it.
  • Disaster Movie: Not a coincidence given that it's directed by Dean Devlin, who co-wrote Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow with director Roland Emmerich.
  • Dyson Sphere: A planet-sized variation. The Dutch Boy system is actually a rigid and pretty dense metal framework that completely encapsulates Earth, with the individual "satellites" being mechanically fixated parts of this grid instead of moving through space on standard orbits.
  • Everyone Knows Morse: During the abovementioned Deus ex Machina event, Jake and Ute use a Dutch Boy satellite's manoeuvring thrusters to signal SOS to anyone watching. Fairly justified, though - the Morse code for SOS is so simple that pretty much everyone actually does know it.
  • Exact Time to Failure: As soon as Dutch Boy really starts messing things up, the protagonists have exactly 90 minutes to prevent The End of the World as We Know It. Pretty impressive calculation for something as chaotic as a global weather catastrophe nobody has ever witnessed, let alone studied before.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Jake and Max, respectively.
  • Gaia's Lament: Provides the story background. The climate balance on Earth had deteriorated so much so rapidly that rampaging weather disasters were threatening the survival of humanity as a species, which ultimately convinced the most powerful nations to team up and build Dutch Boy.
  • Giant Wall of Watery Doom: One of these hitting Dubai is one of the last disasters caused by the hacked Dutch Boy Satellites.
  • A God Am I: Dekkom outright admits to playing god with the world's weather, claiming that it was the whole point of Dutch Boy in the first place. Palma is predictably not amused, and has Dekkom arrested on the spot.
  • Green Aesop: Stop messing up the world climate before it's too late. While it's left ambiguous to what degree mankind was responsible for Earth's climate becoming inimical to human life, the movie still doesn't even try to be subtle about the threat any form of rampant climate change poses to our continued survival on this pretty blue planet.
  • He Knows Too Much: Cheng got pushed by an oncoming car by Dekkom's hired mercenary.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: Duncan, The Mole aboard the ICSS, tries to shoot Jake with a pistol when he's found out, only to hit a window instead which promptly shatters and offers him a front-row experience of Earth's low orbit, although not before Jake had safely left the room.
  • Holographic Terminal: Used quite extensively, from nifty pens that unfold into holographic PDAs, over average-sized computer monitors, to the giant holo-screen aboard the ICSS. Most of them are composed of High-Tech Hexagons for that extra bit of cool.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Might as well be Jake's Catchphrase, with a dash of Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right! thrown in. It seems to be the main reason for his eventual falling-out with his Control Freak brother.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: How the Big Bad outs himself. Dekkom asks Max if Cheng told him anything else about the project. Max didn't mention Cheng at all.
  • It's All About Me: Considerable parts of the US administration come across like this every time they're bitching about how they'll have to relinquish control over Dutch Boy to the international community soon.
  • Kill Sat: A very unconventional example. The Dutch Boy satellites are orbiting weather control machines that are meant to save people by changing the weather in a specific area. The plot revolves around them doing the opposite (which is made blatantly clear by the trailers). The Moscow satellite plays it particularly straight by attacking the city with a massive heat ray very akin to the (in)famous one in Die Another Day.
  • Lampshade Hanging: When the ICSS' self-destruct system suddenly activates, one of the guys in the control room asks incredulously why such a system even exists. Justified example, though - Jake offers a pretty reasonable explanation.note 
  • Literally Shattered Lives: The first sign that something's up with Dutch Boy is a UN convoy in Afghanistan stumbling upon a snow-covered, flash-frozen village in the middle of the scorching-hot desert. One of the Blue Helmets can't resist poking one of the frozen villagers, which results in the latter's hand snapping off at the middle of the forearm. It's later mentioned that about 300 Afghanis died in the incident.
    • Several of the beachgoers in Rio suffer this during the literal freeze-wave as a result of falling over or being struck by falling ice/debris after being frozen.
  • Little Miss Snarker: Hannah Lawson.
  • Living MacGuffin: Of the MacGuffin Super-Person variety - US President Palma is the only one capable of deactivating Dutch Boy because the system is coded to his biometrics, which makes him a pretty sought-after person during the finale.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Not a single named female character in the film dies, and even the sole surviving Red Shirt of the Rio de Janeiro incident happens to be a scantily-clad young woman. Men, however, drop like flies left, right and center.
  • Monumental Damage: Inevitable due to being a Disaster Movie. The Burj Khalifa is toppled when Dubai is flooded, and the Kremlin/St. Basil's Cathedral gets fried by a heat laser.
  • Moody Trailer Cover Song: One trailer features a slow, creepy cover of Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" sung by a mournful female voice. There's meant to be a juxtaposition between the sweetly optimistic lyrics and the gratuitous scenes of Monumental Damage and at the hands of the Hostile Weather.
    I see skies of blue and clouds of white
    *dozens of tornadoes bearing down on a village as terrified people flee for their lives*
    The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
    *30 story tall tsunami sweeps through a coastal city, toppling buildings like dominoes*
    And I think to myself what a wonderful world.
    *birds falling out of the sky, followed by an airplane careening wildly towards the ground*
  • Ms. Exposition: Max' young daughter Hannah opens the movie with an off-screen narration about the Dutch Boy project's history, and does so again at the end, although with some words about the future this time.
  • Multinational Team: Given the ICSS evolved from the ISS, it's no surprise. Yet for all the international representation (Germany, UK, Mexico, Nigeria, France, Japan), there's the conspicuous absence of spaceflight potency Russia.
  • Natural Disaster Cascade: Earth's weather-controlling satellites going haywire causes them to inflict Apocalypse Wow level natural disasters around the world, including a Giant Wall of Watery Doom that rivals the Burj Khalifa in height and a heat wave that ignites gas pipelines. Worse yet, the malfunction threaten to create a massive geostorm. It turns out that the weather satellites didn't malfunction but were programmed to behave as they did by an Eagleland villain. Also worthy of note, freak weather disasters were already occurring in the setting's backstory due to Global Warming, before the satellites were built to stabilize the climate.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers focused on the disaster footage, which is actually largely incidental to the plot and mostly exists to show off the awesome graphics. The real plot is a technothriller.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Once Dutch Boy is rebooted, all the disastrous weather goes away instantly, from flood waters draining to freezing temperatures rising back to normal.
  • No Party Given: Averted. The third act of the film begins at the Democratic National Convention in Florida, when President Palma is to be re-nominated and Dekkom plans to kill him and everyone else in the line of succession.
  • Oh, Crap!: Take a shot every time someone's facial features derail spectacularly in the face of some imminent disaster. You'll be hammered by the time the credits roll.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Jake is forced to put up with an extremely obnoxious specimen when he's Hauled Before A Senate Subcommittee at the beginning of the movie. The whole scene serves as the Establishing Character Moment for him, his brother, and the greater political situation they're working in.
  • Open Secret: Max and Sarah's relationship.
  • Outrun the Fireball: In a way - a heat wave strikes Hong Kong and makes the underground gas lines explode, forcing Cheng to outrun the "ring of fire".
  • President Evil: US President Andrew Palma is the man behind the misuse of Dutch Boy as a WMD. Or so the heroes think at first. It's actually Leonard Dekkom, his Secretary of State.
  • Public Secret Message: While on the ISS IV, Jake sends a video message to Max, a long diatribe about their father regarding a fishing trip. However, with the help of his hacker friend, Max uses a code he and Jake developed as kids to discover a hidden message regarding a set number of words within: "Proof of sabotage at the highest levels of government. Trust no one."
  • Ramming Always Works: Jake comes up with the plan of taking out the hacked Dutch Boy satellites by deploying the replacement satellites without retrieving the ones already in place. It works, but after the first one, The Mole starts the ISS' Self-Destruct Sequence.
  • Right Behind Me: When Jake is in the virtual conference room, he starts complaining about the politicians he's going to be talking to, just as the screen comes on behind him.
    Jake: All right so, who are the yahoos in Washington we're gonna deal with on this?
    Dekkom: I guess I would be the head yahoo.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Max's partner-in-crime Dana fits the trope to a T.
  • Scenery Gorn: Hong Kong explodes, Mumbai gets devastated by a pack of monster tornadoes, Rio de Janeiro gets flash-frozen, Dubai gets hit by a massive tsunami, Moscow gets targeted by a nasty heat ray... If you expect anything but gorgeous destruction porn, you're watching the wrong movie.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: The movie's series of satellites, Dutch Boy, are a network of various satellites working together to affect the climate. Some of the technologies depicted are plausible, such as seeding the atmosphere to manipulate water vapor. However, the movie goes into egregiousness by showing that the Dutch Boy network is an actual NET. A PHYSICAL NET OF SATELLITES STRUNG TOGETHER IN LOW EARTH ORBIT. The resources needed to BUILD such a colossal structure would take centuries to collect, without even going into processing and manufacture, and that's assuming Earth even has the raw iron, semiconductive materials, and copper to construct a metal net larger than the Earth itself.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Wouldn't be a proper disaster movie without it. Hong Kong and the ICSS exploding spectacularly are the most memorable examples, with the latter taking up much of the final chapter.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Downplayed, While Dekkom doesn't become president and his plan was stopped before it could result in the complete destruction of civilization, he still accomplished his goal of ending every perceived threat to America and when human civilization does recover it will definitely be a U.S. led world.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: Played with. One guy aboard the ICSS falls victim to the station's sabotaged systems when the corridor he's in gets sealed, then vented into space. Appropriately, the one responsible for it suffers a very similar fate later, and by their own hands no less.
  • Title Drop: Dozens of times.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Whoever allowed large-bore handguns aboard a civilian (read: unarmored) space station deserves a hefty kick in the nuts. There's a reason even most softer works of fiction arm their space station security personnel with shotguns at best - their projectiles won't compromise the integrity of walls or windows in case of a miss, which is exactly what happens the moment some idiots starts shooting up the ICSS.
    • The South-African henchman who chases after Sarah, Max and Palma in the middle of a super lightning storm that is destroying the buildings around them for no apparent reason but zealous devotion to his job.
  • Tuckerization: Jake's daughter Hannah, named after Dean Devlin's one who gave him the idea for the movie.
  • Weather-Control Machine: The "Dutch Boy" satellites which are meant to control the climate. The plot revolves around them being turned into weapons and the efforts to restore them.
  • You're Insane!: President Palma accuses Secretary of State Dekkom of genocide after learning that he masterminded the titular Geostorm by having the satellites hacked, which will cause billions of deaths, so he could wipe out every non-American nation.
    Palma: This is genocide!
    Dekkom: What you call genocide, I call preemptive strike.