As if we didn't have enough problems on Earth, Hollywood keeps inventing new ways for things to go catastrophically awry. The science-fiction spectacle "Geostorm" introduces an astonishing piece of fictional technology dubbed Dutch Boy — a network of satellites that stabilize our climate. And then the best the filmmakers can think to do with it is to wreck stuff.
Over-the-top disaster pictures are the specialty of Dean Devlin, making his feature directorial debut after a long career of producing and writing movies like "Independence Day" and "Godzilla." "Geostorm" has a more clever premise than it needs to get to its ultimate goal of trashing some of our planet's nicest places. But the results are still mostly dull-witted.
Gerard Butler gives a typically grunty performance as an arrogant technician who blasts into orbit to prevent our massive weather-jiggerer from glitching. Butler's low-key charmlessness is matched by Jim Sturgess as his brother, a Washington bureaucrat trying to manage the crisis from the ground.
The first half of "Geostorm" functions as a kind of space-mystery, as the heroes begin to suspect that Dutch Boy's deadly malfunctions are actually sabotage. No one seems overly concerned, though, as thousands of people are killed in freak cold-snaps and heat-spikes.
When the long-promised global barrage of tornadoes, lightning strikes, tidal waves and extreme temperatures hits in the final half-hour, the special effects are stunning. But the razzle-dazzle arrives too late, and is strangely unmoving. This isn't the kind of climate-change thriller that'll make anyone sweat.
Rated: PG-13, for destruction, action and violence
Running time: 1 hour, 49 minutes
Playing: In general release