Dr. Donna Copeland’s
RICHARD ARMITAGE SARAH WAYNE CALLIES MATT WALSH MAX DEACON NATHAN KRESS
INTO THE STORM
This might just be the summer’s most guilty pleasure. If you are going to 1-up 1996’s Twister, I guess this is the way to do it. Shot like a found footage movie (except that it isn’t low grade film, un-shaky and has multiple cameras), Into the Storm sets out to be one thing, and one thing only: a thrill ride. The opening scene of four teens staring into a massive tornado didn’t give me much hope for the film, as it's all screams, noise and black screen. Yet parallel with the ridiculous scenes of large tornadoes, multiple tornadoes, the largest the chasers have ever seen and then, finally (because there just isn’t anywhere else to go), the largest tornado of all time. It’s laughable for sure, but the visual effects are good enough to make you buy most of what you are seeing.
Desperate to get footage of the season's most deadly tornadoes, thrill seeker Pete (Walsh) and his hired crew of young men and one degree toting weather predictor Allison (Callies) head towards a small town where forecasts indicate a large range of activity. They miss the first one as it turns unpredictably, but when another, more powerful one heads towards the local high school, they race to intercept. Before the high school graduation ceremony could finish, faculty, parents and the grads run for cover as multiple twisters rage outside. After the third or fourth tornado Allison realizes this is the most unusual cell system she has ever seen and recommends everyone run for cover as to what is about to occur.
I could sit here and point out some of the film's dumbest moments, like the fact that the principal (who looks just like President Obama) insists on having the graduation ceremony outside, or the more obvious one, that weather patterns like we see in this film only happen in the movies; or probably the most ridiculous scene where airplanes are thrown above the horizon. Into the Storm isn’t about fact, it’s about throwing everything at the viewer including the kitchen sink. What it lacks is a script that makes these characters realistic. You have the stern, single father who is also the vice principal (yes, that is dwarf leader Thorin Oakenshield), who of course comes to the rescue of beautiful, single storm expert Allison.
Maybe the cheesiest element to the entire film is the use of the video time capsule footage, which screams desperate sentimentality. If you can get past the single mother, daddy issues, redneck generalizations and unrealistic weather then you might be able to enjoy the deadly, catastrophic scenes that fill every frame of the screen. It is a thrill ride and has more suspense than most films out this summer. With Allison hypothesizing weather patterns getting worse and possibly seeing weather like this in large cities, you better believe the filmmakers will give you a sequel set somewhere like NYC, Los Angeles or London so they can squeeze out every last ounce of credibility.
Final Thought – Leave reality and common sense outside as you head into the storm.
By: Dustin Chase
My ears are still ringing from the sound effects of Into the Storm. I can say that all the special effects are powerful enough to give the viewer the sense of actually being in a storm. It’s scary enough to make you jump, tense up, and gasp. And that was the intention of Director Steven Quale—to take viewers into a storm and have them experience what it’s like to be in one—to be dashed about, then be in the calm of the eye, then wait nervously for the other side to blow through. Found footage was used to some extent, but Quale said real effects were filmed as much as possible, e.g., rain. Another strategy was to have crewmembers throw bags of debris at fans on the set so they would be blown about, sometimes actually hitting the actors. It’s hard to say how much CGI vs. found footage was used, but that it is unclear is probably a mark of the successfulness of the special effects.
The film opens with a tragedy and news report, then we’re introduced to three sets of main characters. Richard Armitage plays Gary, a father with two teenage sons whom he has instructed to make a video about their lives that will be viewed 25 years later. The second group consists of professional storm chasers who are making a documentary and are outfitted with a vehicle that can withstand 170 mph winds and has anchors on each side that can be bored into the ground for stabilization in high winds. The director, Pete (Matt Walsh), is so intent on getting his film made, he tends to forget human concerns. He has a climate researcher in another vehicle, Allison (Sarah W. Callies), who is charged with locating storms and predicting how they will behave. Each of these people has a driver. Finally, there are two buffoons out chasing the storms just for fun. They’re included for levity from the tension, and we’re supposed to laugh at them, but I did not find them funny in the least.
The storm—which actually consists of about four tornadoes occurring close together—takes place during one day near a small town, Silverton. In addition to the main characters, there are hundreds in the audience at the high school commencement, which is taking place outside. They have to take cover inside from a sudden rainstorm, and when the tornado hits, are told to “stay against the wall and keep your head down.” Later, when another tornado comes through, they’re instructed to board buses that are supposed to get them to a safe place, but we aren’t told how they fared, which is just one of a number of flaws and loose ends in the plot.
Overall, Into the Storm’s special effects are impressive in giving the sense of being in an actual storm and in the visual images of a tornado roaring through, and Brian Pearson’s cinematography makes a distinct contribution in this regard. You might not want to go for the story, but to see what happens in tornadoes, the film is interesting.
A way to watch tornadoes from a seat of safety.