Friday, August 8, 2014

Into the Storm

While absolutely dumb from beginning to end, there's at least a whole lot of 'nado action keeping it entertaining. Made for people who want to check their brains at the door and see some intense and fun tornado action.

Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense destruction and peril, and language including some sexual references.

Into the Storm

I was 15 years old when Twister came out in theaters, so I was the perfect demographic for its overly dramatic but extremely good-looking success. I don’t remember how many times I went back to see it on the big screen, but I’m certain that I paid to see it at least three times – and that’s got to be exactly what Warner Bros. is hoping will happen with Into the Storm.

Into the Storm is basically Twister for a new generation: it’s dumb, fun, tense, exciting, over the top, jam-packed with cliches and laden with eye-popping special effects. Our story follows two main groups and one comedic relief side group. The main two are a group of hard-up high-tech storm chasers who haven’t seen action in months and a single father with his two mildly rebellious sons. It would only make sense that the storm chasers (including Lori from The Walking Dead) would encounter the wild twisters shown in the movie’s trailers, but how the family gets tangled up with it is the mystery. Unfortunately, we don’t care about that. We don’t care about the high school vice principle father (Richard Armitage, The Hobbit trilogy) and we certainly don’t care about his nerdy older son that has sneaked away from school to help a pretty girl film a school project. All we care about are tornadoes, but Into the Storm wastes 30 minutes of our time setting up these cheesy characters and their flimsy relationships. Just like Twister, we have to sit through the generic drama to get to the goods. I don’t mean to seem heartless, but bring on the storms, destruction and mayhem!

After a bland first third, the tornadoes finally start ripping through the peaceful mid-western town. The storm chasers love how close they get to the first one and yearn for more, which they’re lucky enough to get because these storms are moving and behaving like no other set in history. As the second wave hits, the storm chasers cross paths with our single father character and his younger son. The older son and his new-found female friend have become trapped, so the dad and brother try to make their way across the city to rescue them. Of course, in dire need of help, when they cross paths with the storm chasers, the two groups combine and get caught up in tornado after tornado, including a fiery ‘nado and the grand-daddy of all ‘nados.

Periodically, we run into a third group of yahoos: a pair of stereotypical hicks who use their phones and GoPros to record dangerous stunts for the sake of YouTube fame. They weave in and out of the big picture just long enough to provide hillbilly comedic relief, which brings me to the movie’s odd style.

Into the Storm is kind of like a “found footage” movie, but not entirely. A lot of the footage shown comes from the points of view of the cameras that the two son characters carry and those of the cameras that the storm chasers use. Unlike most found footage movies, what we see is rarely shaky, annoying or distracting, which is a breath of fresh air for the found footage gimmick. At the same time, I’m hesitant to call this a found footage movie because not all of the footage shown is from the characters’ camera’s points of view. One example would be the shots shown in the trailers and TV spots from high up in the air as twisters taking out planes at an airport. Unless a random cameraman was soaring through air at that point – which is possible – that’s definitely not found footage.

I can’t recommend Into the Storm because of merit, writing, acting or creativity, but I can recommend it on absurd, mindless, thrilling special effects-driven entertainment. If you don’t mind a healthy serving of stupid with your dumb fun, then Into the Storm is perfect for you.

(Photo credit: Warner Bros.)

2 1/2 out of 5

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