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Film Review – Into The Storm

5 min read

Into The Storm is Hollywood’s newest big budget blockbuster to tap into the usually successful weather disaster film genre.

The film opens in hard hitting action fashion with a group of friends sitting in their car on a residential road in Oklahoma. Noticing the sparking of power lines getting closer and closer, they soon discover, albeit a little too late, that within the darkness is a tornado. This takes us very quickly into this new special effects monster.

The story of Into The Storm revolves around two groups. The first is a family of 2 teenage sons, Trey and Donnie Deacon (played respectively by Nathan Kress and Max Deacon) and their recently widowed father Gary (Richard Armitage) a stern parent who is also the headmaster of his sons nearby college and the story starts as the family are getting ready to celebrate the senior graduation ceremony. The second storyline follows a group of frustrated storm chasers, led by head chaser Peter Moore (Matt Walsh) and meteorologist Allison Stone (Sarah Wayne Callies). The team are speeding all over Oklahoma’s famous tornado alley and surrounding areas in pursuit of tornadoes as part of a documentary that they are filming and driving some pretty impressive vehicles to capture their next meal ticket.

After the initial deadly tornado which opens the film, a series of twisters ravage the small town of Silverton, Oklahoma, hitting the local college during the senior students’ graduation ceremony and committing carnage on the school. The same tornado eventually traps eldest son Donnie (played by Max Deacon), who has skipped the celebrations in order to help out his love interest at a nearby abandoned paper mill and, following the twister hitting their location, traps the pair within the confines of an underground compartment that begins to flood following a burst water pipe.

Into The Storm Insert

This then leads into a series of high octane action sequences that one would immediately come to expect in a big budget tornado flick in 2014. Sound good? Unfortunately we thought the same thing but ended up being massively disappointed by the end result.

The acting by almost every character within the 90 minute film was well below average and this made the film drag its feet from start to end. Rather than coming across genuine and well-rehearsed, each actor had a look about them that made them appear like they were seriously thinking about the lines they were to deliver as opposed to it appearing natural or genuine with the exception, for the most part, of Sarah Wayne Callies’ character, Allison Stone.

The camera work throughout the film, by both the sons who were filming on handheld cameras as part of a school ‘time capsule’ assignment and the storm chasers who were filming a documentary, gave Into The Storm a tacky and overused ‘found footage’ feel. While it wasn’t used throughout the who film, the scenes that offered this use of camerawork weren’t impressively shot. This style may work for films like the Paranormal Activity franchise or rarities like Cloverfield but this style gives films like Into The Storm a ‘cut corners’, cheap appearance.

While director Steven Quale, whose previous directorial portfolio includes the 5th instalment in the Final Destination franchise, sets out to create characters who we can relate to and have an emotional connection with, we are left sitting in our seats hoping for a tornado to whip several of them up just so that the agony of watching their on screen ‘performances’ can come quickly to an end.

There is also no sense in several points within the story including the scene where Donnie and his love interest are trapped beneath the mill by rapidly rising water and happen to have quite possibly the most versatile, water proof camera to hand to film ‘final moment’ videos despite the camera being entirely submerged for a lengthy period to time. Also the scene were timid camera operator Jacob (played by Jeremy Sumpter) dies after deciding to film a fire engulfed tornado that is whirling furiously only feet away from him and unsurprising pulls him to his death after he drops his camera and decides that he must retrieve it. Scenes like this dissolved any of the sympathy one would usually have following the demise of a likeable character. Instead we are left laughing in our seats and gasping “really?” to the person next to us.

The storyline was also a major flop in our opinion. There was nothing unique or original about Into The Storm whatsoever. In fact, the premise, for the most part, followed a very similar recipe to the 1996 Helen Hunt/Bill Paxton blockbuster Twister. It opened with a tragedy, just like Twister. It followed storm chasers who begin noticing rapid weather patterns and numerous tornadoes touching down, like Twister. They showed an ‘odd one out’ tornado in the form of a ‘firenado’ much like Twister had with the water spouts at the same point within the movie. The film even went as far as ending with an enormous tornado that was the “biggest we’ve ever seen” and included the storm chasers mission to see into the eye of the storm – just like Twister. This was a serious ‘what is the point’ moment for us. I almost feel bad to reference so many obvious similarities between Into The Storm and Twister but I just felt that it really put itself so freely in the firing line for such comparisons to be drawn.

While the majority of the film was pretty shocking, there were some semi-redeeming features to it. The special effects were pretty spot on. Into The Storm offered us views of the tornadoes from many more angles than any other tornado-inspired action film. The firenado was impressive during the centre of the film and the closing scene were the enormous storm tears through the city’s airport and throws a bunch of trucks and 747’s around like they were children’s toys was also a memorable segment to the film.

Unfortunately, however, those fleeting moments of glory on the film makers part was not enough to strike a glimpse of positivity from me as a fan of the disaster film genre and as someone who went along so eager to see this latest Hollywood cash-cow to only leave the theatre feeling like I had just seen a cheap rip off of a fantastic 18 year old film.

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