On the Silver Screen – Into the Storm
It’s been a while since we had an old school disaster movie, they do seem to be few and far between these days and perhaps with good reason. Typically they are full of style and special effects and lacking in any real substance, Into the Storm is no exception but is that necessarily a bad thing?
If you’ve seen Twister then you’ve essentially seen this film; freak weather patterns descend on an unsuspecting and unprepared American Midwestern town and -almost literally- turn their world upside down. In terms of story that’s actually pretty much it. We have some characters who are wafer thin clichés blandly fighting to survive as mother nature decides to make their town her bitch. We have Gary, the father who lost his wife sometime in the past (Richard Armitage) and struggles to connect with his two sons Donnie (Max Deacon) and Trey (Nathan Kress). His sons have obvious characteristics of their own; Donnie has the hots for the most attractive girl in school, Kaitlyn (Alycia Debnam Carey) who of course turns out to be a really pleasant and environmentally conscious person once he finally plucks up the courage to talk to her. It should also come as no surprise that he’s the only one that can help her with a very specific problem that requires exactly his talents to solve. Trey fulfills the role of the son who has to prove himself to his father for some reason. Matt Walsh plays obsessed storm chaser Pete who has fallen on hard times trying to get footage of large tornadoes and has one chance to make it right. Sarah Wayne Callies fulfills the role of the scientist who is always wrong until she is very right when nobody listens to her any more.
There are some other characters but they’re barely worth mentioning and don’t really factor into the story too much. As characters go they are probably the most thinly written bunch I’ve seen in a while. I could predict exactly what would happen to them, when it would happen and pretty much what they were going to say minutes before it happened. To say writer John Swetnam was going through the motions would be generous. I was basically bored whenever there wasn’t a tornado onscreen.
On the other hand, I wasn’t really watching this film for the characters; for me this film exists as a spectacle to show off some really impressive weather effects. The story and characters only serve as an excuse for the weather to happen and that’s actually alright with me. Visually this film looks fantastic with some really cool CGI destruction and the film doesn’t leave you wanting for long. Naturally much of it is implausible -if not impossible- but it is great to look at; It’s almost as if a visual effects company needed a sizzle reel and were told that they could only make it if a story was added; as a result a thinly written, trope ridden script was put together and now we have this film. The visuals are enhanced by a wonderful score from rising star Brian Tyler who manages to manufacture some real tension with his masterfully composed music.
Laughably the film latches onto the found footage gimmick that still hangs in there somehow. Some time is spent trying to explain where the cameras are mounted and where all the cuts might be coming from but ultimately it seems to be abandoned whenever it becomes inconvenient. I didn’t really have a problem with it but I do wonder why they bothered. Why not just play it straight without trying to convince us that it was a documentary?
Into the Storm
Is this film good? No but I don’t think it’s really supposed to be. I really wasn’t interested in the characters or the story but I did find myself enjoying the implausible weather effects as the CGI tornadoes tore their way through their surroundings. The visuals don’t quite make up for the lazy writing but it’s entertaining to look at for a little while, I have definitely seen a lot worse this year.