John Hanlon Reviews

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Into the Storm Poster

Into the Storm

Genre: Action and Adventure, Thriller

Director: Steven Quale

Cast: Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Matt Walsh, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Arlen Escarpeta, Max Deacon, Nathan Kress, Jeremy Sumpter, Kyle Davis, Jon Reep

MPAA-Rating: PG-13

Release Date: August 8th, 2014

The greatest problem with Into the Storm isn’t that the story is terrible (which it is) or that the dialogue is atrocious (which it is) or that some of the character’s actions make no sense (which they don’t).

The movie’s greatest problem is that there are no sharks in it.

Into the Storm, dosage if it had embraced its true identity, medications could’ve easily worked as a B-movie on a cable channel. With its 89-minute running time, it would perfectly fit in with the Sharknados of the world if it had played up its concept and embraced some of its sillier plot choices. Instead, the B-list cast here is left trying to make a less than serious movie feel like a serious film.

Richard Armitage stars as Gary, a father of two adolescent boys who share contentious relationships with their Dad. Gary is the Vice Principal of the local high school so the teens are forced to work with him at home and at school leaving them little space to make their own decisions. Gary orders Donnie (Max Deacon), the oldest of the two, to film the upcoming high school graduation but Donnie has other plans. After an awkward conversation with fellow student Kaitlyn (Alycia Debnam Carey), Donnie opts to skip graduation and help her with a video project.

Kaitlyn’s project is focused on environmental issues and in an obvious bit of foreshadowing she notes, “Gotta take care of the planet” before Donnie responds with “Or else the planet will take care of us.”

Cue the high winds and the tornado warnings! The planet is not happy.

Along for the ride here are the inevitable cast of supporting characters who play routine and stereotypical roles. There’s the likeable Nathan Tress, who was so great on iCarly, playing Donnie’s geeky younger brother (who is tasked with recording the graduation when his brother bails) and there’s Allison (Sarah Wayne Callies), the kind-hearted meteorologist who just wants to study the tornadoes. There’s also Pete (Matt Walsh), the storm chaser more concerned with getting good footage of the twisters than he is with saving lives, and then there are the inevitable knuckleheads (Jon Reep, Kyle Davis) who see the storms as a joke and who, one can assume, will be quickly sucked into the vortex.

None of these characters are presented as interesting or fully-dimensional and director Steven Quale doesn’t do much with any of them. Quale’s last film, it should be noted, was Final Destination 5 so it’s not surprising that this movie follows a generic B-movie formula (as the Final Destination sequels have followed the original’s template).

Into the Storm may want to follow in the footsteps of the thematically-similar Twister (a far superior movie) but it never rises above its formulaic plot.

Instead, the feature too often drifts into near self-parody. The concept of “found footage” plays a prominent role in the first half of the story but then the idea of that suddenly disappears halfway through and only comes back at rare moments. Also, the high school graduation—which is being held even with a bad storm approaching— is kept on schedule and is held outside (who decided that that was a good idea?) Moreover, there are ridiculous moments when a cow suddenly appears in a tornado out of nowhere (were there cows in this community before?) and in a pivotal scene, a previously-unseen airport comes into play (where’d that come from?).

It’s easy to embrace the campy giddiness of a movie like Sharknado 2 but here, the filmmakers don’t make a clear choice between making this a serious movie (like Twister) or a goofy feature (like Sharknado). Instead, they choose elements from both worlds making for an uneven moviegoing experience.

Even in the end, when Into the Storm hopes to adopt an optimistic tone, its voice feels forced.

“Every day’s just fine cause I’m alive,” one character notes right before the credits arrive. Sure, but a moviegoer’s day will be even better if he or she doesn’t walk into a theater where Into the Storm is playing.

Review by: John Hanlon