Sunday, August 10, 2014

Review: Into the Storm

Image courtesy of Warner Bros.
Let's get this out of the way first: Yes, "Into the Storm" features some pretty impressive special effects of massive tornadoes ripping apart houses, towns, buildings and vehicles. The effects are frightening and realistic, although the verdict is still out for me on the tornado that catches on fire and becomes a flaming funnel.

Otherwise, the picture leaves much to be desired, from its creaky script filled with expository dialogue and unrealistic depictions of how humans speak to one another to a plot that can be summed up as such, "Look, a tornado - let's go chase it!" And if the characters were any more wooden, they'd likely end up in someone's fireplace.

As is the case of most disaster movies, there's got to be some loose plot threads involving family struggles. In this case, the story follows Donnie (Max Deacon), who's upset with his overbearing father Gary (Richard Armitage), a school principal, and younger brother, Trey (Nathan Kress), who also has a spotty relationship with the paterfamilias following the death of the boys' mother in a car accident years before.

And then there's the group of storm chasers, including Allison (Sarah Wayne Callies), who wants to get home to her young daughter and the greedy Pete (Matt Walsh), who'll risk the lives of his crew to get great shots of tornadoes. Pete operates a tank that plants stakes into the ground to allow the vehicle to withstand the storms and allow him to view the eye of the tornado. Wanna guess what happens to Pete?

Much of the film teases the audience with the tornado threatening the lives of some hundred or so youths whose graduation coincides with the arrival of a massive storm system that includes four to five huge tornados that are described by newscasters as - and I'm not kidding - "the biggest tornado ever!"

I realize that, until now, I've neglected to mention that "Into the Storm" is shot in the increasingly overused found-footage documentary style format. One of my problems with this style of filmmaking is that because we're watching a documentary approach to the subject matter - that is, we follow everything in complete chronological order and only know the characters from what we glimpse of them as they engage in the action from moment to moment - there tends to be a very minimum focus on character, story or virtually else, other than catching whatever thrilling event occurs before the camera's lens. In other words, it's a cop out.

As I mentioned, "Into the Storm" includes some very believable special effects. If only the filmmakers had taken such care with virtually every other element of the film. The picture is mostly full of hot air.

No comments:

Post a Comment