‘Geostorm’ (2017)

‘Geostorm’ (2017)

In a year of some woefully bad movies such as nuclear bomb bad ‘Mother!’ and the problematic Kingsmen’ sequel, I didn’t think it was possible for an ostensibly campy ‘end-of-the-world’ film to miss the lowest of possible bars of film entertainment, and join their ranks. I admit I am a sucker for big budget spectacle Hollywood disaster movies, I really enjoyed ‘2012’, ‘Independence Day’, ‘Deep Impact’ and ‘The Day, After Tomorrow’. For a film called ‘Geostorm’ to hit its low bar all it needed to do was to a) show us amazing, destruction scene spectacle special effects b) be campy fun that doesn’t take it self too seriously. That’s it. Acting, plot, character development and message all get a free pass, just be awesome and fun. Incredibly ‘Geostorm’ fails on both counts. The destruction scene special effects extravaganza payoff you spend most of the film eagerly waiting for, and what the trailer teased us with, comes in patchy fleeting moments that are not nearly epic enough and not long enough. Some effects are amazing but there are moments of people running that looked like the low resolution of Sim characters running from a ice tsunami. Why a stadium would blow up from a lightning strike also seems bumb and not implausible enough. And even in these crumbs of kick ass destruction ‘vignettes’ the film takes it self too seriously even to be campy. You know it’s bad when a scene where Copacabana beach in Rio is turned into ice isn’t even fun! Just as the Star Wars prequels failed and god awful ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ failed, because they did not understand what made them attractive in the first place. ‘2012’, in many ways a campy silly movie was both awesome and fun, it understood what this kind of film is about, epic spectacles of destruction. You also know a film is bad when you are being reminded fondly of ‘Armageddon’ while watching the poor man’s version. As the years pass this film will wither into obscurity, the momentary scenes of special effects destruction will be assorted into a YouTube clip of ‘movie destruction scenes’ rated as middling among better movies. 2/10


‘Gravity’ 2013


Director: Alfonso Cuaron

Starring: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney

Alfonso Cuaron makes you believe like no one else.

The visionary director behind one of my all-time favourite films and my pick for the greatest film of the 2000’s decade, Children of Men (2006), has created a monumental masterpiece from a startlingly simple premise. My first question after watching the film was why hadn’t anyone thought of making a movie about this subject matter before? Other films such as Apollo 13 and countless Hollywood blockbusters have dealt with similar subject matter to varying degrees. However I soon realised that this is the wrong question. One really should ask who else could have taken this scenario and not only made you believe its real, as if you personally are there experiencing the events, but also to give enough attention to small details to uncover eye-wateringly large truths and beauty. Other than Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, arguably the greatest film of all time, I cannot think of another director dealing with such subject matter that could make such a film, and even then I doubt if Kubrick could find the level of humanity that Cuaron finds. The film opens with: life is impossible in space which confronts us with our own humanity and what it means to live. The film is science fiction in only passing way. It is more of a taut, terrifying and yet hauntingly beautiful psychological drama. It works on many levels and could be described as a study in the law of gravity, a study in human endurance, and most profoundly a poetic study in what it means to be human. I’m not really a fan of Sandra Bullock but she transcends her celebrity beyond recognition to become a viscerally real character that represents all of us. Its special effects are poetic and some of the most seemlessly beautiful I’ve seen in film, always reminding us of the sheer beauty of the location no matter how dire the circumstances. This film is a game-changer. Cuaron achieves something no other director today can. The best film of the year and one of the best of this incipient decade.

10/10 A+


(The image in this post is one of the best shots of the film. A breathless Dr. Ryan floats in a fetal position with oxygen tubes mirroring umbilical cords within a circular door frame with the world drifting outside. This shot is as good as any in 2001: A Space Odyssey. A master shot)

‘The Great Gatsby’ 2013

‘The Great Gatsby’ 2013

Director: Baz Luhrman

Starring: Leonardo Di Caprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire

‘The Great Gatsby’: A return to classic Luhrman style but missing the soul of the novel. Having studied and written on ‘The Great Gatsby’ in my English Literature degree I can say that as an adaptation Baz Luhrman may have missed the point of the Fitzgerald classic, but as a stand alone Luhrman film ‘The Great Gatsby’ is gorgeous, frenetic and truly ‘Luhrmanesque’. Baz is the perfect director to capture the glitz, glamour and spectacle of the novel which he did salubriously but another director was needed to find the film’s soul. Getting Baz to make this film is like getting an alcoholic to make a documentary on alcoholism, you get the glorious highs but the larger truth isn’t fully realised. Of course Luhrman isn’t interested in reality he is interested in creating a Luhrman-style of film making and if anything his film is an audacious, grand, trashy opera, addition to his filmograhpy not as good as ‘Romeo and Juliet’ or ‘Moulin Rouge’ but way better than cringe-spectular ‘Australia’. I loved the costumes, Sydney based locations including Rivendell and Santa Sabina, the soundtrack, and the tempo. Where the film faulters is convincing us of its reality and of Fitzgerald’s truth, particularly about the character of Daisy and the tragedy of an age. He may have read the book but really the book read him. 7/10