By: Bryan Montgomery
Rating: 5 out of 10
Disaster movies, a trend in the 20th century, have started to slide into obscurity during the last five years, mostly supplanted by several duds, namely 2012 and Pompeii, which have set the genre back from the glory days that brought films such as Deep Impact, Armageddon and Independence Day. Into the Storm does little to return the genre back to where it once was, resorting to an unsuccessful blend of found-footage, extremely impressive visuals and truly awful character development to attempt and rejuvenate the genre.
When a series of freak tornadoes descend upon a town in Oklahoma, a group of storm chasers filming a documentary join with a parent looking for his son to find their way to survive amongst the dangerous and enormous storms.
The best part of Into the Storm, by a wide margin, is the visuals presented throughout the film. Especially when it comes down to the tornado sequences, the filmmakers spared no expense to ensure that the storms were visually incredible. Pieces of debris fly across the screen, as each impending storm raises the ante from a smaller, less destructive tornado to a tornado on fire to a gargantuan EF5 that is able to toss commercial airplanes around like toys in a child’s playroom. If anything, watch this movie for the visual feast that it is; one disappointing part of the dissolution of the disaster genre is that we no longer have the opportunity to see the insane capabilities of the current state of visual effects used with disaster films, Into the Storm is incredible as a technical demonstration of the potential within this genre if it is done correctly.
Unfortunately, the remaining parts of Into the Storm are nearly insufferable. The insertion of Sarah Wayne Callies and Matt Walsh into leading roles was a huge mistake to start with, and Richard Armitage, who looks virtually unrecognizable compared to his look as Thorin Oakshield, is pretty much set up for failure with his one-dimensional character who is cornered as the concerned and rescue-driven father. It simply seems to be a half-hearted effort from the entire cast, which makes any scene not including a tornado a complete slog.
What might be worse is the by-the-figures approach the film takes during its brief but bloated duration. Taking a long time to even begin to grab momentum, by the time that the first tornado hits you are thankful for the storm as it breaks up a downtrodden and repetitive foundational plot; Matt Walsh’s character leads a crew looking to establish personal credibility, as Armitage is battling with his teenage son (Max Deacon), who ditches a family commitment to help his crush (Alycia Debnam-Carey) with a school project. Once things start to go south everything begins to take an immensely predictable turn, which takes so much out of the plausible mystery of the film since you feel like you know exactly how the movie will end up, which, for the most part, it does.
As a technical demo, Into the Storm is worth a look. It is easily one of the top visual spectacles of the summer, as the terrible and terrifying tornadoes strike in unpredictable fashion and are easily the best characters in the film. Unfortunately, the tornado’s human counterparts fall far short of expectation. Predictable characters, a streamlined plot and a lack of direction truly damage Into the Storm, leading it to be a mostly disappointing placebo of what could have been a resurgence of the disaster film.