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dir Dean Devlin
scr Dean Devlin, Paul Guyot
prd Dean Devlin, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg
with Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Andy Garcia, Ed Harris, Alexandra Maria Lara, Zazie Beetz, Talitha Bateman, Mare Winningham, Robert Sheehan, Amr Waked, Adepero Oduye
release US/UK 20.Oct.17
17/US Warner 1h49
Fight the weather: Butler leads the team
|G U E S T R E V I E W B Y J A C K E Y D M A N N|
It's doomsday once again here on earth, but don't expect to be treated to anything too original. This non-stop CGI fest struggles with its own identity, trying to be both a disaster flick and world domination movie, but succeeds in becoming neither. There's entertainment value in the scale of the disaster scenes, but they've been done before and better in other films. Flimsy dialogue and character development that feels reluctantly forced leaves little else to be desired.
In 2020 a satellite array called Dutch Boy encompasses the earth managing the previously destructive weather. Dutch Boy inventor Jake Lawson (Butler) is sent to the International Space Station by younger brother Max (Sturgess) to investigate a malfunctioning satellite, at request of the president and secretary of state (Garcia and Harris). As the death toll stacks up, it seems as though foul play is at work. Jake and Max must work together to stop those behind the plot and prevent a storm that will change the face of the planet.
Devlin's directorial debut was about what we could expect from a man with writer/producer credits on both Independence Day films. The disaster sequences are gripping as one extreme gives way to the next, perfectly encapsulated by the moment a bikini clad sunbather is fleeing a blizzard through the streets of Rio only for a plane to suddenly plummet from the clouds above her. The writing is laboured at best, giving the actors little to work with other than basic plot progression.
Butler throws himself into the role at least, although the film's most convincing lines come from Jake's young daughter Hannah (Bateman) which says a lot about the level of performance. The brothers' love/hate dynamic is utterly unconvincing, while Max's fiancee (Cornish), who just happens to be in the secret service, is only in the film to be an action hero at the climax.
The disaster scenes occur all around the world to reinforce the global scale of the crisis, yet a number of these are so brief it's impossible to understand the magnitude of the events, rendering them pointless. The use of digital effects throughout is seemingly without restraint, making it clearly obvious on screen and further alienating the audience from the plot. The mystery surrounding the group or person sabotaging Dutch Boy was initially intriguing yet it quickly became clear who the culprit was. If you enjoy grand visual destruction and little else, this is for you.
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© 2017 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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