Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Into The Storm Review

Into The Storm Review

Do you ever look at the eye of a storm with a sense of wonder? I know I always have. I certainly have never dreamed of being caught in the middle of a major storm and driving through unrelenting rain is quite the annoyance. Other than that, severe weather is something of a marvel to me. I find a catastrophic calm when watching a thunderstorm, but I have never honestly ever seen a tornado. I have always liked watching weather of all kind, and I know for a fact that I am not the only one. Sadly, the release of severe weather movies has never lived up to much. I was never fond of “Twister” or “Volcano” and I felt “Dante’s Peak” was a good but not-quite-great example of a volcano movie. I try to remain optimistic about the sub-genre.

That optimism is sometimes hard to keep, especially when something like “Into The Storm” get released.

I guess I should say that some stuff in “Into the Storm” is good. I think director Steven Quale hit gold when decided to cast Richard Armitage, Sara Wayne Callies, and Matt Walsh in the movie. As you could have probably guessed, these three actors give “better-than-needed” performances given the subject material. Armitage has been a delight to watch on his journey through “The Hobbit,” even if that journey has been a little large. Even though not everybody did, I enjoyed Callies’ time on AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and I thought she played Lori just right. And Walsh? Well, he’s been good at being the funny man, and I was surprised to see that he can be just as good in a more grounded role.  These three actors breathe unexpected life into this movie, and it makes the experience a bit more enjoyable. The rest of the cast, which includes Max Deacon, Nathan Kress, Alycia Debnam Carey, Arlen Escarpeta, Jeremy Sumpter and Lee Whittaker all do fine, the problem I have is that these actors are not playing characters, they are playing types. Heck, Armitage, Callies and Walsh play types too, but they just play well-polished types.

What do I mean by types? Well, “Into The Storm” is a pretty predictable fair. Armitage plays a vice-principle of a high school that is hard on his boys, and he has a fight with one of them which he never really resolves over the storm and it will take the storm for them to grow together again. Callies plays a storm-chaser who has a sub-plot of getting home safely to her five-year-old daughter? Walsh is the lead storm-chaser who just wants the storm footage, and he doesn’t care who he has to step over to get it. Sound familiar? Because these types have been featured in about every disaster movie ever made. The problem is that these characters or the actors don’t really bring anything new to the table. Each sub-plot in the movie is strictly routine (a boy and his crush are trapped together, some knuckle-head daredevils keep getting in the way.), but none of that routine is particularly valuable by the end of the movie.

Easily the biggest problem I had with “Into The Storm” was the found footage format. The found footage device is beginning to become the most annoying film device in history, and I don’t know how much more of it I can stand. The way Quale uses the found footage format is particular nuance. The way the cameras move from one to another makes no narrative sense, how this “found footage” got edited together is impossible in some moments. I know I should leave logic at the door for these movies, but it happened so often that it was a glaring problem. Plus, the point of found footage is creating a deceit but we know Armitage is Thorn in “The Hobbit,” we know Callies was in “The Walking Dead” and we know Walsh was in films like “I Love You, Man” and “Role Models.” There is no deceit here, so what is the point of the format?

 Add poor special effects to a predictable plot and a serious narrative flaw, and you’ve got a mess. The performances are strong, but they can only carry the film so far. I wanted to look at this movie the same way I view storms, with a sense of wonder but I could never get there. This movie doesn’t offer more than just some cheap thrills, and even that is putting it a little too kindly.


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