MOVIE REVIEW: INTO THE STORM / CERT: 12A / DIRECTOR: STEVEN QUALE / SCREENPLAY: JOHN SWETNAM / STARRING: RICHARD ARMITAGE, SARAH WAYNE CALLIES, MATT WALSH, ALYCIA DEBNAM-CAREY / RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 20TH
Inevitably audiences will go into the storm for one reason only: to be, quite literally, blown away by awesome special effects. And they certainly are awesome; even in an age when CGI can conjure up just about anything our imaginations might desire, this is raw, primal stuff, preying shamelessly on our fear of the uncontrollable, savage power of nature itself. Tornadoes and firenadoes whirl across the American Midwest demolishing buildings, sending cars and trucks hurtling into the sky and, in perhaps the most spectacular sequence of all, laying waste to an entire airfield, huge aircraft spinning aloft, out of control, in a macabre metallic sky dance. It’ll take your breath away.
The rest of Into the Storm might leave you feeling a bit less winded though. The film, breezily directed by Final Destination 5’s Steven Quale, superficially appears to be trying to update the old 'disaster movie’ template of the 1970s - think The Poseidon Adventure, Earthquake, The Towering Inferno, Meteor – but the end result is more SyFy ‘Movie of the Week’ than late summer big screen blockbuster. There are two basic problems which leave Into the Storm windswept: the script has more clichés than a big box marked ‘full of clichés’ and no one seems quite sure whether (or even weather) they should be making a ‘found footage’ movie or not. The core of the film concerns the tireless determination of tornado aficionado Pete (Walsh) as he tries to make the definitive tornado documentary but everyone else is busily filming everything too, from high school kids working on their ‘time capsule’ projects to a couple of stoned redneck adrenalin junkies rushing about waving around their iPhones and Flip cameras. Throw in a bit of occasional CCTV footage and it seems that the film is trying to cover all bases in its desperation to appear homespun and authentic. But it’s a device which quickly becomes tedious and silly and inevitably, when there’s no handy on-screen camera about, the film has no choice but to just tell its story and get on with the action.
It’s a relief that the visuals are so immersive because you really won’t give a flying fig about the central characters and their off-the-shelf emotional turmoil. Richard Armitage’s vice-principal (and widower) Gary doesn’t get on with his two teenage sons but he really steps up to the plate when one of them gets stuck in the cellar of a demolished building. Storm-chaser Allison (Walking Dead’s Sarah Wayne Callies) is pining for the five-year-old daughter she hasn’t seen for months because she’s too busy chasing storms. Pfft, who cares? It’s paper-thin stuff and it barely holds our interest as we wait for the next truck to fly through the air.
Into the Storm is a fantastically old-fashioned Twister for the 21st century (but considerably less boring), and almost commendably predictable, the very definition of ‘does what it says on the tin’. It’ll dazzle you, it’ll amuse you (there’s some good-natured humour here and there) and, in the end – because a big wind is still just a big wind and no matter how much chaos it causes it can get a bit samey – it’ll probably make you feel that it’s all been a bit of a storm in a teacup. More gust-see than must-see.
Expected Rating: 7 out of 10