Geostorm ★★★½

"It's like going on a rollercoaster and eating Chipotle." ~ Dana

Once again, I saw the trailers and got hooked, but this time the gamble paid off. This really is a fun film to see on the big screen ... maybe even IMAX.

This feature debut from writer-director Dean Devlin has a lot going for it. To start, there's the premise that climate change and extreme weather patterns finally force the nations of the world to world together on a solution -- a global network of climate-controlling satellites nicknamed "Dutch Boy."

We are told by the narrator, tween prodigy Hannah Lawson (Talitha Bateman), that these orbiting guardians of the skies deliver countermeasures any time the weather gets wild, by affecting winds, atmospheric pressure and humidity. Tornado? Zap! Blizzard? Zap! Monsoon? Zap! At long last, natural disasters are brought under control from the International Climate Space Station (ICSS) manned by crew from 17 participating countries.

This solution was orchestrated by the project's architect, Hannah's now-divorced father Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler). Unfortunately, he was such a loose cannon politically that the Senate Oversight Committee decided to let him go and replace him with his younger brother Max (Jim Sturgess). who reports to the U.S. Secretary of State Leonard Dekkom (Ed Harris). Max has a fiancée named Sarah Wilson (Abbie Cornish), who is a Secret Service Agent assigned to President Andrew Palma (Andy Garcia). Julia Denton plays Lawson's ex-wife, Hannah's mother Olivia.

Three years after Jake's unceremonious dismissal, we find him rebuilding old cars and converting them to electric motors in Cocoa Beach, Florida, within sight of the Cape Canaveral Space Center and rocket launch base. But an emergency brings him out of his semi-retirement, when a Dutch Boy satellite apparently malfunctions and an entire village in Afghanistan gets frozen solid.

The bigger problem is that in two weeks the U.S. is scheduled to turn the keys to Dutch Boy over to a United Nations sanctioned international committee. POTUS doesn't want to deliver damaged goods, so he insists on getting the problem fixed posthaste. Jake's the only guy for the job and, despite his resentment of Max, he agrees to take it on, because other than Hannah, Dutch Boy is the love of his life.

Before Jake can get to the ICSS and meet the current science commander, German science officer Ute Fassbinder (Alexandra Maria Lara), two more malfunctions occur -- an explosion aboard the space station that kills Afghani engineer Makmoud Habib (Richard Regan Paul) and freakish gas main explosions in Hong Kong, supposedly caused by an intense heatwave that Dutch Boy didn't correct. We later learn that if climate calamities continue to occur, the world could be faced with "a Geostorm, an unstoppable chain reaction of extreme weather patterns globally and simultaneously."

It's easy enough to guess that the "malfunctions" are nothing of the sort, but a devious plot to "weaponize" Dutch Boy and use it to destabilize the Earth's weather. But to what end? And who is behind it? That's the mystery here as Jake on the space station and Max on the ground both work toward answering those questions and stopping what could soon be a disaster of global proportions.

Others in the cast include Daniel Wu as Cheng Long, who supervises the Dutch Boy program in Hong Kong; Richard Schiff as the nasty Virginia Senator Thomas Cross; and Zazie Beetz as a cybersecurity expert called Dana, who's good friends with Max. Jake's team aboard the ICSS includes Nigerian structural expert Eni Adisa (Adepero Oduye); good-natured Mexican techie Al Hernandez (Eugenio Derbez); French security specialist Ray Dussette (Amr Waked); and British programmer Duncan Taylor (Robert Sheehan).

Expect some sabotage at every turn and some excellent special effects, not only in space where "Gravity" (2013) was obviously an influence, but also when tornadoes hit India, a hailstorm flattens Tokyo, a tidal wave engulfs Dubai, and beach-goers in Rio are frozen in their tracks by sudden sub-zero temperatures. There's also the intense lightening strike on Orlando, FL during the middle of the Democratic National Convention, where the President is attending to accept his Party's nomination for four more years.

The soundtrack by Scotland's Lorne Balfe adds to the suspense, and Susan Matheson gets major points for costumes representing a wide variety of cultures as well as space suits and fatigues for astronauts. My biggest complaint here is that the story drifts into melodrama far too frequently, like the Indian boy with his lost dog and tearful Hannah with her mom watching the ICSS blow up on live TV, assuming daddy is on board. Otherwise, this film doesn't deserve all the hate it's been getting. It ain't bad at all, folks.

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