Movie Review: “Into the Storm” – Won’t Blow You Away

Written by Leo Panasyuk August 08, 2014

Into-The-Storm-Silver-Screen-header

I fondly remember watching Jan de Bont’s 1996 disaster thriller “Twister” – a film about storm chasers and the dangers they encounter along the way, fighting both the forces of nature and one another – when I was younger and simply loving it. It had the perfect blend (or twist, rather) of action, drama, and comedy and still remains one of my favourite disaster films to date. Steven Quale’s “Into the Storm” attempts to bring the action and ideas of “Twister” into a modern-day setting and what’s more modern-day than cell phone cameras and Handicams? “Into the Storm” certainly knows the tricks to pull to keep the audience focused, but it lacks the style and presentation to really make us care once the dust settles.

“I’ve Never Seen Anything Like It” – Every Disaster Movie Protagonist Ever

“Into the Storm” stars a handful of (forgettable) characters featuring strict-and-straight high school Vice Principal Gary Morris (Richard Armitage, of “The Hobbit” fame), his two headstrong sons Donnie and Trey (Max Deacon and Nathan Kress, respectively), and meteorologist Allison Stone (Sarah Wayne Callies) and their attempt to survive the worst breakout of tornadoes in recorded history. Together, they overcome flying debris, heightened emotions, and the fear of death as they travel from setpiece to setpiece in this 89-minute wrath-of-nature spectacle. I’m sure I made it sound more exciting than it is.

It's almost like a revamped "Twister" highlight reel.

It’s almost like a revamped “Twister” highlight reel.

“Into the Storm’s” greatest strength is in its visuals. The tornadoes look menacing, threatening, and seriously scary. There’s definitely a sense of escalation in their appearances, as they get meaner and meaner as the film progresses, until they reach biblical proportions. Though the film doesn’t provide us with many ‘money shots’ of the tornadoes, it certainly does a great job of placing the characters in as much peril as possible, as they are almost always exactly in the tornadoes’ line of fire – I mean, wind. Adding onto that is the fact that over half of this film is shot in a found-footage style, which adds to the intensity and ‘realism’ of it all. The only issue with these constant character-in-peril scenarios is that we know they’ll survive, especially when they encounter several conveniently lucky breaks time and again, a formula which really eliminates much of the tension and terror that we are otherwise supposed to feel.

“It’s Science, Data… and Luck”

The characters, like I said, are forgettable. The perfect analogy to explain the film’s performances in comparison to its action is this: if the film’s wooden performances were enough to build a house, the film’s action is more than enough to tear it down. The characters are very by-the-numbers with an uptight dad, his angst-y kids, a profit-driven storm chaser, a passionate and dedicated storm chaser – the list goes on. None of these characters truly give the film the life that’s been sucked out of it long before the opening credits roll, with the destructive twisters being the only thing that manages to propel this film along. There are even two (stereotypical) rednecks who label themselves “twista hunterz,” outfitting their truck with shoddy wooden boards and chasing the tornadoes themselves, providing silly comedic relief and hoping to film the tornadoes and subsequently become YouTube royalty. Nothing against the good folks of the country, but the film would have fared far better without them.

My face during the last 10 minutes - they were that good, surprisingly.

My face during the last 10 minutes – they were that good, surprisingly.

There are a few spots of drama in this film, though they feel forced and drawn-out, as the filmmakers felt as though they absolutely needed one long scene of sentimentality to make up for a significant lack of emotion found throughout the rest of the film. I’ll admit the scene is moving, but the tension is effectively diminished by the fact that we know every one of the characters is going to be okay. Why? Because they’re the main characters and the screenwriter wouldn’t dare kill them off, lest face the ire of the audience.

Overall

Steven Quale’s “Into the Storm” is a very “Twister”-meets-“Cloverfield” sort of deal, though it is not as thrilling or exciting as those two films. Though it takes a while to pick up, and has issues touching down with what it really wants to accomplish in its run time, the ride it takes you on isn’t all bad – though it is certainly bumpy. With some great (not impressive, however) visuals standing in contrast to some not-so-great performances, “Into the Storm” offers enough late-summer excitement to see you through to September, though don’t expect to be blown away by what you see.

My Rating: 4/10

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About Leo Panasyuk

A fan of all things film, Leo never really lets himself get tied down to one specific genre. He's always interested in watching new and old films and especially loves the IMAX format. When he's not choosing which movie to watch next, he's studying Film and English at Western University.

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