CATHERINE KRUMMEY: ‘Into the Storm’ features disastrous plot
INTO THE STORM
One star out of five
MPAA rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense destruction and peril, and language including some sexual references
“Into the Storm” is a disaster. And that’s not just in reference to the tornadoes that populate the film.
The intention of the movie seems to be hyperrealism, with its documentary style of cinematography and titles introducing the characters. However, due to a weak plot, melodramatic performances and questionable science, it winds up being anything but real.
I understand that the movie is trying to go for a “once in a lifetime” event in terms of the storm that produces multiple tornadoes in the same town throughout the film’s duration, but the suspension of disbelief just isn’t there.
However, the special effects in “Into the Storm” are always the clear highlight of any film about storms, and they really are outstanding here. But, if you’ve seen the trailer for this movie, you’ve probably seen at least glimpses of all of its best visual effects.
On the human front, “Into the Storm” follows three groups of people — a group of professional storm chasers, two rednecks trying to become famous on YouTube and an assistant high school principal and his two sons. After a couple of twisters hit the small town of Silverton, the storm chasers and the principal and one of his sons come together to find the eldest son and his love interest, who are trapped on the outskirts of town following the first tornado.
As much as “Into the Storm” tries to continue the tradition of epic weather films — keep an eye out for the flying cow, a clear homage to 1996’s “Twister” — it dries up, almost making you root for the storms to come back in an effort to abandon the sometimes boring, sometimes melodramatic plot.
Sure, “Twister” may have been a bit cheesy, too, but it seemed to delve into the science of the (multiple) storms while still creating a story and characters that are both entertaining and relatable. Dusty (the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman) was definitely a colorful character, but he knew when to tone it down and play the drama over the comedy.
There is little or no humor in “Into the Storm,” which is one factor that makes it so dull. The two rednecks (Donk and Reevis) are supposed to provide comedic relief from the drama and action of the tornadoes, but their scenes just come off as worrisome and depressing, especially if they’re even in the slightest way depictions of human beings in the real world.
Matt Walsh (who is hilarious on HBO’s “Veep”) plays the lead storm chaser, Pete. Given his comedic history, you would think the filmmakers would put that to use, but no, his character is pretty flat, almost devoid of any multi-dimensional personality traits.
The same could be said for most of the characters in “Into the Storm.” It feels like it’s populated with stock characters, no one standing out to make the story worth watching.
If you’re in the mood for a good disasterpiece, definitely stick to “Twister.” I’ll take Jo, Bill, Dusty, Aunt Meg and the rest of the crew over the dull cast of characters in “Into the Storm” any day of the week.
Five superior disasterpieces
Disasterpieces have been a trend this year, from the spring release of “Noah” to the “Sharknado” sequel on TV to “Into the Storm,” now in theaters. Here are five other movies to get your storm fix:
“Twister” (1996, dir. Jan de Bont): As I said in my review of “Into the Storm,” “Twister” is just the right mix of science, story, character and special effects, making for a very entertaining two hours of movie-watching.
“The Wizard of Oz” (1939, dir. Victor Fleming): No discussion of movies involving tornadoes is complete without the inclusion of the beloved classic “The Wizard of Oz.” “Twister” pays homage to the book and film by naming its tornado sensor device after the heroine, Dorothy.
“Take Shelter” (2011, dir. Jeff Nichols): A tense thriller, Michael Shannon stars in “Take Shelter” as a man whose dreams are either a premonition of a horrible storm to come or a signal of the onset of mental illness.
“The Perfect Storm” (2000, dir. Wolfgang Petersen): George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg star in “The Perfect Storm,” the real-life tale of a group of fishermen from Massachusetts who encounter a deadly storm.
“Magnolia” (1999, dir. Paul Thomas Anderson): While “Magnolia” isn’t an all-out disasterpiece, its climax does involve a quite unusual rain shower, providing a high dose of surrealism.