Sound & Vision - - ENTERTAINMENT - Josef Krebs

Fac­ing their own com­plete ex­tinc­tion due to ex­treme storms that are de­stroy­ing whole cities, the world fi­nally comes to­gether, send­ing 17 teams of sci­en­tists and engi­neers to cre­ate a sys­tem, a se­ries of satel­lites all con­trolled by a gi­ant space sta­tion that can use an as­sort­ment of de­vices—su­per lasers, ther­mal mis­siles, freez­ing beams, etc.—to sta­bi­lize the weather. Nat­u­rally, some­one’s gonna try to seize con­trol of Dutch­boy, as the sys­tem is known, and weaponize it to make him­self pres­i­dent of an all-pow­er­ful coun­try that will de­stroy its en­e­mies and rule the planet.

Con­trast is good, pro­duc­ing bright whites of a frozen vil­lage in the desert, ranges of grays and yel­lows of halls of power and con­gres­sional com­mit­tee rooms, and deep blacks of the suits’ suits set off by the rich col­ors of the Stars and Stripes. Each en­vi­ron­ment has its own color scheme, such as the rich blues, sil­vers, and whites in­side the space sta­tion and greens of the as­tro­nauts’ uni­forms. The range of tones in each is wide, mak­ing ob­jects dis­tinct and solid. Although fo­cus is fre­quently shal­low in or­der to iso­late com­bat­ive char­ac­ters—such as the two sib­lings run­ning the project—from each other and the light­ing is of­ten hazy, im­ages still have plen­ti­ful de­tail, par­tic­u­larly in the spec­tac­u­lar and highly con­vinc­ing CGI se­quences of the ac­ti­vated weather dis­as­ters and those set on the space sta­tion. Earth, in com­par­i­son, is of­ten flat, airy, and vis­ually dull.

There’s not much use of the sur­rounds for ef­fects pans or at­mo­spher­ics, just for the ever-present bom­bas­tic and unin­spired score.

It’s con­stantly in use, with a slow, steady beat to try to force a rise in ten­sion, de­spite a sag­ging story or static fill-scenes of poli­tispeech or pseudo-sci­en­tific bab­ble. This be­fore a tsunami of rum­blingly sin­is­ter orchestra and elec­tron­ica crashes over you in an un­dif­fer­en­ti­ated wash in the reg­u­larly in­serted dis­as­ter set pieces where ev­ery­thing rapidly swells. None­the­less, the price­less di­a­logue—“proof of sab­o­tage from the high­est level of govern­ment . . . trust no one”—is all clear and crisp even when up against the ca­coph­ony of mu­sic and thun­der­ous (lit­er­ally) ef­fects.

Ex­tras con­sist of 16 min­utes of in­ter­est­ing fea­turettes. One fo­cuses on the film’s sets, minia­tures, and CGI. An­other, with direc­tor Dean Devlin and the cast, delves into the de­vel­op­ment of the con­cept of a story about the wack­ily log­i­cal out­come of global warm­ing, and one on the in­ter­na­tional cast’s ex­pe­ri­ence of work­ing to­gether . . . in space.

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