22 October 2017

Geostorm and Madea Scared Stupid

We're a little late on this, but I'm also fairly certain that no one is stressing out that much about either Geostorm (2017) or Tyler Perry's Boo 2! A Madea Halloween (2017). Even though these trash heaps dropped two days ago, it's time to dig into their cultural status in this crazy messed up world of ours. Let's start with Tyler Perry.

A new horror icon
I'm continually confounded by Tyler Perry's career. I'm not going to touch whether his whole enterprise is racist or not - playing up black stereotypes that appeal to black people and seem to be equally loved and hated. At any rate as a white dude I can't really speak to that, although I'll concede that having a powerful black voice making black entertainment is important. At the same time, though, there are plenty of black voices that actually make high-quality back entertainment, so that excuse for Perry's existence is kind of baffling.

It also speaks to my whiteness that I had no idea that this movie even existed. I had to double-check whether or not this was in fact just Boo! A Madea Halloween (2016), but no, that was last year. There have been eight Madea movies! How?! The first one came out in 2005! They average $60 million a year. It's clear that Tyler Perry just cranks these suckers out - he's made sixteen films in the past ten years. I also tend to obsess over his non-Madea roles, though, of which there are exactly four: That rando cameo in Star Trek (2009), the equally random Alex Cross (2012), an incredible turn in Gone Girl (2014), and the campy as hell Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016).

This is all to say that each of these roles (except TMNT:OOTS) had such reserved dignity to them. It's weird to think that he's also one of the most prolific comedic voices of our time. It's as if he continually creates this cultured persona with his real face while going bonkers when he puts on his old lady wig. Not an entirely bad gig. It's hard to distinguish between any of the Madea movies, much less a direct sequel (presumably) to his first awkwardly-titled Halloween Movie, I can't see this really gaining much traction at all.

Except of course financially, because we're all scrubs now. It'll probably win the weekend based off its timing, fan base, and a complete dearth of competition. Sorry, Geostorm. Getting back to that title, though, it's almost as if Perry knows that no matter what he calls it, people are just going to refer to it as "that Madea Halloween movie. No, the other one." So fuck it, Tyler Perry's Boo 2! A Madea Halloween. Also, you can have two films that are "A Madea Halloween" - doesn't that imply a singular Halloween? I guess it's not a definitive article signifying there can only be one, like, sure this is just another singular story, again, but it just sucks so much.

So let's go to Geostorm. Why the hell was Geostorm made? Unlike the cute Halloween-timed Madea film, Geostorm is HORRIBLY timed as much of the real world is facing a Geostorm. Earthquakes, endless hurricanes, and wildfires are ravaging this planet right now. Let's throw in Gerard Butler to save us!

The conceit at the core of Geostorm, that there are man-made satellites up in the sky to prevent natural disasters, but someone hijacks them for nefarious purposes, is decent. It's an easy to understand high concept that's worth developing. It just feels so done before. Have these people ever even seen a Roland Emmerich movie? Oh yeah, director Dean Devlin produced and helped write Stargate (1994), Independence Day (1996), Godzilla (1998), and of course, Independence Day: Resurgence (2016). This film would be more interesting if it just wasn't The Day After Tomorrow (2004), 2012 (2009), and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009) rolled into one. It all reeks of being extremely repetitive and derivative of its global disaster predecessors.

Destruction massive enough to lose tragedy
Now, there are ways a film can get around this, especially one with as campy a title as Geostorm. It's possible for films to actually be fun, thoughtful, and ridiculous at the same time. London Has Fallen (2016) just came close with its blatant xenophobia bordering on parody (problematically, it doesn't really pull off that satire, if that was ever even intended). I only bring that up for Gerard, who has displayed a self-aware machismo in the past, from RocknRolla (2008) to The Bounty Hunter (2010). None of that is here. This film is apparently on a Core (2003)-level assault against science and all around fucking terrible. It's a rough show for everyone.

This being Sunday, it's clear that it's already been an abject box office failure. Surprisingly, the budget at $120 million isn't all that nuts, but it'd be astounding if it came close to that, especially with its $13 million domestic debut. It's the kind of film that will probably get some life on cable, and maybe become notable in the way that The Core is notable. A lazy Sunday afternoon TNT film? That's probably it's best bet. If you really soak in how much hundreds of people worked on Dean Devlin's baby here, isn't that the saddest thing in the world? The sum of your efforts is something that I'll switch to while bored during NFL commercials. That's it.

Rough weekend for sure, folks, and next week doesn't look much better. We do have a new completely unnecessary SAW move for some reason as well as Suburbicon (2017), which might be good, but also kind of missing the point, but that's a whole new animal to get into. Luckily Thor: Ragnarok is there to bail us out - and amazingly movie studios can't seem to understand that that exact feeling is why we keep going to these damn superhero movies - because it actually looks fun and weird and awesome.

What did you see this weekend? Go watch Blade Runner 2049 (2017), dammit!

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