Review 41: Into the Storm (3/5)

Into the Storm

Directed by Steven Quale

Starring Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Matt Walsh, Nathan Kress, Max Deacon

Released on August 8, 2014

Running time 1h 29m

Rated PG-13

Genre: Disaster, Thriller, Action

From here on out, whenever I think of fantastic special effects, I will think of this film. I mean, WOW. I say that a lot, don’t I? But, yeah, WOW. Those special effects are impeccable. Rarely have I ever seen such cool-looking twisters.

Tornadoes are truly wonders of nature. They are terrifyingly beautiful. Their sense of organization, the strange way nature forms them, the massive amount of destruction they can cause, and the things they can do that seem physically impossible, such as impaling a tree with a strand of hay, with no damage to the hay. Or, in Into the Storm, impale a car with a bicycle with no damage to the bicycle.

Of course, just completely forget about the mind-numbingly dull Sharknado soon-to-be-quadrilogy.

I think Into the Storm’s major mistake was deciding to be a “found footage” disaster flick. There is much of the film that clearly is not found footage. Parts of it are, but not nearly enough.

But let’s get to the story.

There are four main plot threads brought together by the forces of nature – a massive storm system hitting the town of Silverton, Oklahoma.

  1. Donnie Fuller (Max Deacon) and his brother Trey (Nathan Kress) are supposed to film their high school’s graduation ceremony in an attempt to create a time capsule that will be opened in twenty-five years. Donnie makes a last-minute attempt to win the heart of the hot chick at school, Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner Kaitlyn Johnston. In an attempt to salvage Bruce – sorry, Kaitlyn’s doomed project, they ditch their high school’s graduation ceremony to go shoot a video at an old abandoned paper mill. The storm, which spawns a tornado, hits the mill and makes it collapse on top of them. The storm makes a pipe burst, causing water to flood the cavity where Donnie and Bruce Kaitlyn to fill up with water, leaving them with severely limited but sufficient time to develop a relationship.
  2. Trey is left behind at the school to deal with his father, Gary (Richard Armitage, Thorin from The Hobbit trilogy). The graduation ceremony goes swimmingly until it begins to rain hard. The tornado siren goes off and all the students, staff, and ceremony attendees take shelter in the school. The tornado hits the school and severely damages it, but no one is killed. After Gary contacts Donnie and learns of his location, he and Trey go to find Donnie. The tornado hits the mill at this time.
  3. A group of storm chasers, consisting of Pete Moore (Matt Walsh), Allison Stone, Ph.D. (Sarah Wayne Callies), Daryl (Arlen Escarpeta), and Jacob (Jeremy Sumpter) are down-on-their-luck storm chasers that take a major risk when they go to Silverton purely on a hunch. They have a van with the inside covered in TVs, radar, and other equipment, and a heavily armored and upgraded Tornado Intercept Vehicle nicknamed Titus. When they get to Silverton, they learn the hard way that they’re going to get a lot more than they bargained for. They eventually meet up with Gary and Trey after surviving the day’s second twister. A group of six-ish twisters destroys a residential neighborhood and car lot and throws a bunch of crap in their path. One of the twisters even becomes a FIRENADO after destroying an oil tanker and causing an explosion. Jacob is sucked in and killed, and the rest make it into a church. The tornadoes dissipate, and the group makes it to Donnie and Bruce Kaitlyn just in time.
  4. A pair of adrenaline junkies, Donk (Kyle Davis) and Reevis (Jon Reep), capitalizing on making money off of YouTube show up several times throughout the movie purely to chew the scenery and, around the middle of the movie, get carried off by a twister. Thank heaven.

THE CLIMAX. The three plot threads have come together, and the fourth one has been eliminated.

A series of tornadoes converge to form a massive EF5 tornado. If you don’t know what EF5 is, look up the Enhanced Fujita scale. It’s easy to wrap your mind around it. Anyway, the massive tornado, which will be addressed later as the largest tornado in history (Does it compare to the 2013 El Reno tornado being 2.6 miles wide? If it does, great, but it doesn’t look quite like it.), is headed for the school. What a coincidence. Pete, Gary, Allison, and the rest of the group head to the school, herd everybody onto buses, and attempt to escape. Everyone but the last bus and a few cars escape, as a downed power line falls in their way. Coincidentally, the people on the last bus and cars are – GUESS WHAT – our group that we’ve been following for the entire movie. Typical. The group takes refuge in a storm drain, but flying debris compromises the shelter. Pete, in a sudden act of heroism, after giving Gary his research hard drives, pilots the Titus to the storm grate and utilizes the combination of the Titus’s weight, ground anchors, and winch cable to anchor the storm grate in place. The group gets to see only what God and Jo and Bill from Twister have ever gotten to see: THE EYE OF THE TORNADO, which made me realize: This isn’t a tornado. This is a Hurricanus Ultimo. But then the second half of the tornado hits. The Titus’s bumper, which the winch cable is attached to, breaks off, and the Titus is sucked up into the tornado. In fact, it is thrown up above the clouds somehow. And then the Titus falls and hits the ground within seconds, killing Pete instantly. And then the tornado dissipates, and we learn that everyone inside the storm drain survived somehow. And the tornado may as well be screaming in the style of Doctor Claw from Inspector Gadget, “I’LL GET YOU NEXT TIME, GARY! NEXT TIME!” and then have Mad Cat give an angry yell.

Anyway, the next scene shows, through a series of interviews finishing out the time capsule, the flattened community of Silverton rebuilding, having grown stronger and closer together as a community, as friends, and ultimately as family. They all show a newfound appreciation for life. I honesty cannot and will not object to this.

But I can object to the final scene. It is revealed that Donk and Reevis survived, and are hanging from a tree. Ho, ho.

It’s not an original story, the characters are not very well developed or interesting (except for maybe Allison and Gary), and the script can be a little clumsy at times.

I may sound like a broken record for saying this, but the special effects are impeccable. Beautiful. Some of the best I’ve ever seen. Had it featured blue cats, I could have easily said that Into the Storm tosses aside Avatar as the best CGI I’ve ever seen.

I can also praise the soundtrack for being not only minimalist, but done by a full orchestra. Good for Brian Tyler!

Of course, I’m not going to act like this was a great movie. It wasn’t. But it is not only passable, but it takes the cake away from Twister as the best tornado film I’ve seen to date.

Thank heaven.

Final verdict: 3 out of 5 stars.

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