Into the Storm Looks Good, Sounds Good, Feels... Blah
- Friday, August 08, 2014
Release Date: August 8, 2014
Rating: PG-13 (sequences of intense destruction and peril, and language including some sexual references)
Genre: Action, Adventure
Run Time: 89 minutes
Director: Steven Quale
Cast: Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Matt Walsh
It looks good. The storm scenes, which are many, are often stunning. Any number of places and things are destroyed, usually seen in impressive clear-eyed detail. The characters in this pseudo-docudrama even look like real people (when you consider how often film teens tend to look more like red carpet-ready Hollywood starlets than regular small town kids, that’s a nice touch). The town looked fairly believable. At least it did, until what appeared to be a large airport suddenly showed up on the edge of small Oklahoma town, but who can quibble about reality when faced with the sight of all those planes set free to dance in a tornado?
It sounds good. Thunder rolls menacingly in the distance, straining metal whines like whale song, trees crash and power lines pop. Some of the dialogue is actually funny and some is genuinely tender.
It feels... kind of ho-hum. That’s probably because the storm has more personality than the people. They’re more caricatures than characters. We get more back story about the weather-chasing vehicle than the team inside it, which makes it hard to care if they get their Weather Channel-worthy shot or die trying. Allison (Sarah Wayne Callies) is the best of the bunch, a single mom meteorologist who worries more about her five-year-old back home than the storm in her path. Pete (Matt Walsh) is supposed to be a hardnosed storm chaser who forces his team out of their comfort zone, but he just comes off as distant and cranky. The remaining team members are so forgettable they could have been played by cardboard cutouts.
Some of the hometown characters are a little more appealing. Not Gary (Richard Armitage), a single dad so wrapped up in his own issues he barely manages to change facial expressions through the first half of the film. His boys fare better; Donnie (Max Deacon) is mildly charming, a teenage filmmaker with a crush on a pretty classmate Kaitlyn (Alycia Debnam Carey). His brother Trey (Nathan Kress) has the most interesting character arc in the film and Kress makes the most of it, taking Trey from annoying younger brother to impressive young man in a natural, unforced way.
Comic relief is provided by local ‘Bubbas’ Donk (Kyle Davis) and Reevis (Jon Reep), amateur filmmakers of the “Hold my beer; watch this” variety. Bless their hearts; they’re too drunk and/or stupid to be scared of the storm. Their clueless glee at the opportunity to become YouTube stars is infectious; they were clearly crowd favorites.
Having been through many a tornado drill in my grade school years, I was proud to see people actually taking cover in the approved manner. The realism stopped there; people were frequently battered by debris or slammed against unforgiving surfaces only to hop up and soldier on with nary a scratch, much less the internal injuries that should have resulted. And that scene from the movie poster, with one character grimly hanging on to another to keep her from being sucked into the approaching funnel cloud... I’m sure it would have been ever so dramatic had it not been so completely ridiculous. There are a few violent deaths and one particularly dramatic twister-related incident best left unspoiled here. If only the audience had some kind of relationship with the deceased so we could mourn their passing with more than a brief twinge, but unfortunately we were not allowed to get that close.
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