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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Into the Storm Review: It's a Disaster

Into the Storm is Pseudo-Science and terrible acting run amok.

With Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy proving that our Earth in the throws of something environmentally dire, one would think a disaster picture like Into the Storm would tackle this sensitive subject with more grace. Not so: it's filled with enough silly pseudo-science and poor acting to fill the eye of a tornado and is one of the worst films of the year.

As tornadoes batter the Midwest, storm chaser Pete (Matt Walsh) has experienced an uneventful year filled with frustrating misses courtesy of his green team members. Among them is the meteorologist Allison (Sarah Wayne Callies), whose constant miscalculations have prevented Pete from experiencing glory and a large payout for that perfect shot inside the storm. But soon they'll get their chance, as a series of massive storms invade the town of Silverton, eventually forming the destructive weather event F5, with winds of over 300 mph. As Silverton's citizens struggle to stay alive, the vice principal of a local high school (Richard Armitage) must locate one of his sons who's become trapped during a building collapse. As the F5 sets its sights on the town, the two groups huddle together, hoping to ride out an event that few can hope to do.

For a film that survives on high intensity and fierce winds, the 89-minute Storm crawls along, due to many sequences that carry on far longer than Director Steven Quale should have allowed. He and Writer John Swetnam fill too many early scenes with exposition to establish this world of increasing natural calamities, without grounding the rest of the film in logical action sequences. Tornadoes of these magnitudes - especially those of an F5 - would decimate anyone who ventured too close, yet we're constantly barraged by our heroes seeming to escape each threats, until the third act when they're able to somehow survive winds of over 300 mph by 'hanging on.' Not likely.

Into the Storm's bold predictions of spiraling disasters reaching Los Angeles or Chicago is a frightening possibility, but the way it gets there and carries them out turns to low-end shtick awfully quick. There's no real science here, and it thus misses a great opportunity to validate itself as anything other than low-grade disaster film. What we get instead is a series of unrealistic events which border on the ridiculous, from multiple twisters touching down simultaneously to F5's taking Pete into its center only to shoot him above the clouds like Superman learning to fly in Man of Steel.

The acting here is a mish-mash of pubescent Paranormal Activity chest thumping, poorly-portrayed Blair Witch goodbyes, and an over-the-top performance from Armitage. What feels like an ABC After-School disaster film is only added to by Armitage's constant scowling at the camera, perhaps wondering why a person of his considerable talents signed on for such a questionable affair. Callies is suitable as the meteorologist banned to the back of the bus, her performance sequestered in a wall of rain but able to keep her humanity when the clouds finally part. Everyone else here is either thinly-drawn or non-existent, their presence only offering a vehicle to the next disastrous moment that they must either endure or become swept up in its ferocity. When that moment comes, some characters magically survive, such as two redneck brothers whose antics make you want to slap them.

I found myself hoping more characters would die Deep Impact style, but torn between the reasons for it: was it to make the story more interesting, or hating their characters enough to see their short lives ended? For its many faults, at least Deep Impact dealt with life-ending threats with a dignity that Storm sadly needs. When such debates and comparisons are harbored during a film, the result cannot be good.

Into the Storm is just a terrible movie. Filled with silly pseudo-science about real threats to our planet and poor acting that no good moviegoer should be forced to endure, it reminds us that bad movies sometime get their start for foolish reasons and never look up. Skip this one at all costs, regardless of the format. It's a disaster on every level and in the truest sense of the word.

Into the Storm is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense destruction and peril, and language including some sexual references and has a runtime of 89 minutes.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.


Anonymous August 8, 2014 at 6:09 AM  

Agree with you all the way.

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