Film Review: Into the Storm

by Chad Liffmann on August 8, 2014

An unnatural disaster.

Should we stay or should we go?  It's just so pretty and destructive!

Should we stay or should we leave…the theater.

Into the Storm is one of those movies in which you can easily tell how most of, if not all, the budget was spent.  The tornado sequences look great.  There’s a lot of debris flying around, making a mess.  I’m sure that if I were to compare the destructive tornadoes in 1996’s Twister to those in Into the Storm, the latter would make the former look silly and cartoonish. But taken in its entirety, Into the Storm makes Twister look like a masterpiece (my apologies to those who were of this opinion of Twister already).  Into the Storm, aside from a few intense in-the-thick-of-it moments, completely misses the mark.  A weak story, awkward acting, and makeshift dialogue derail Into the Storm, and even the tornadoes are welcome interruptions from the sloppy storyline, rather than harbingers of impending doom.

Director Steven Quale (Final Destination 5), who also served as a second unit director on Avatar and Titanic, is, not surprisingly, talented at handling the sequences of actors running away from large scale special effects.  Where he fails, and this may not be his fault, is the handling of the other 70% of the movie — the chunks in which we’re introduced to and follow groups of characters via high school video projects, daredevil hicks with handheld cameras, and more handheld footage from a storm chasing crew.  If you can imagine watching video diaries of yourself that you made when you were a junior in high school, and sitting through the awkwardness and substance-free nature of what those would likely look like, well, that is exactly what watching the character/story development in Into the Storm is like.  It was a smart move not to include any bit of that in the trailers.

Into the Storm writer John Swetnam’s only other big writing credit is the upcoming Step Up All In, which is unlikely to be seen for its compelling story or characters, either.  I don’t want to mistake solid job opportunities with potentially handsome paychecks for a lack of writing skills, but when you have a movie such as Into the Storm, why would you choose to devote so much screen time to clunky dialogue and awkward character buildup when the main draw of your film is so obvious.  Tornadoes.  A fire tornado, for heaven’s sake!  Unless you have names like Bill Paxton or Helen Hunt on the poster (or the creator of Jurassic Park and director of Speed), then just emphasize the tornadoes and deliver at least 65-70 minutes of stormy chaos.  I encourage those interested in watching Into the Storm to, instead, go rent Twister or Sharknado 2.  Because, nobody wants to see footage of an awkward teenager reluctantly making a video time capsule for his standoffish high school principal father.  Nobody.

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Into the Storm opens in theaters today, August 8, 2014.

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