It’s odd — as our planet rapidly hurdles towards any number of very real oblivions, disaster-porn movies have started to play a little more fancifully. "Malfunctioning weather-controlling spacecraft triggers climate cataclysms" sounds like a kinda quaint way for the world to end, as opposed to nuclear holocausts or World War III or a total breakdown of humanity’s societal order. It’s been a minute since the Earth last swallowed up its inhabitants with the earthquake-sploitation picture San Andreas, and frankly it’s just a relief to see a fictitious vision of the apocalypse that’s not entirely our fault.

And as weather-gone-wild epics go, Geostorm appears to be pulling out all the stops. The opening moments of the trailer explain that mankind has devised a method of controlling the weather using a pellet-dispensing satellite orbiting the Earth — which, believe it or not, doesn‘t work out! That foolproof plan somehow goes awry and sets off a chain reaction of natural disasters, from the standard-issue skyscraper-drowning tidal waves to the more novel rain of bats and tornadoes made of fire. But while the trailer proudly flexes its many CGI spectacles, it kinda buries the lede.

There’s a story jammed somewhere in there as the people of Earth scramble to figure out why their all-powerful weather satellites have suddenly turned on them. Gerard Butler headlines as a "stubborn but charming satellite designer" (which is now the male equivalent of Denise Richards playing a nuclear physicist in The World Is Not Enough) who goes into space to attempt a quick fix on the malfunctioning equipment. Back on Earth, his brother (portrayed by Jim Sturgess, who is similar to Butler insofar as they are both white men with dark hair) discovers a plot to assassinate the President. Big week for Earth!

All signs indicate that this film will be a slightly smaller disaster than the ones it depicts: there was a brief personnel shake-up that ended with original director Dean Devlin back in the driver’s seat, months of reshoots, a release delayed approximately a year. But come October we’ll all get to see for sure whether this could be the next Independence Day, or the next Independence Day: Resurgence.

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