Into the Storm is Twister on steroids
‘Into the Storm’ puts viewers in the middle of a very bad day for one small mid-western town, sometimes sacrificing characters for special effects.
Everyone can agree that we’ve seen some crazy weather across the country in recent years. Some say it’s due to humans, some say it’s just nature, but there’s no denying the ferocity of some of the hurricanes and tornadoes we’ve witnessed lately.
Hollywood has not been one to shy away from the “Mother Nature run amok” disaster movies, giving special effects technicians a chance to shine. 1933 saw what many consider to be the first disaster movie, Deluge, reduce New York to a pile of rubble after an earthquake and then swallowed by a massive tsunami. Recent climate change movies like The Day After Tomorrow and 2012 have been more successful at effects than storytelling.
It’s been 18 years since Twister hit the big screen, showing off what the relatively new field of CGI special effects could do, and this year brings us the Twister on steroids Into the Storm. The story focuses on one really, really bad day for a small town in the mid-west’s “Tornado Alley” with one storm cell after another forming and producing more, bigger tornadoes.
There is also a human element with a team of storm chasers lead by Pete (Matt Walsh), who is only concerned with finding a tornado and getting the shot for his documentary, and Allison (Sarah Wayne Callies), the scientist who prefers data over instinct. She also has a young daughter who is expecting her to come home when the storms begin to hit.
Then we have Gary (Richard Armitage) and his two sons, who have a contentious relationship with dad since their mother died. It’s no surprise when one of the boys with the most resentment finds himself in danger. And then there are the two drunk, redneck yokels who fancy themselves as storm chasers and end up being annoying “comic relief.”
Paths cross, storms form and get more massive and destructive each time, lives are “in danger” and some semi-major characters do die (but do we really expect either of the name actors to die?) in a major twist for this kind of film. And there is a surprising amount of emotion when our main characters are in danger. Callies probably has the most to do between tracking storms, worrying about her daughter and her team, and helping Gary save his kids. Armitage, though, has most of the cliche-ridden dialog and he struggles frequently to keep his British accent at bay (making his performance a bit too wooden at times).
The real stars of the film, though, are the effects artists who have created the tornadoes and fire-nadoes (no sharknadoes however), the collapsing buildings, the flying debris, the cargo planes being lifted off the runway, and the vehicles falling from the sky. You can’t deny that the effects are spectacular and that really is the point of the movie. The only drawback or backlash the film might receive could come from the very part of the country which is most susceptible to these kinds of disasters. I can’t imagine sitting through a movie like this knowing that it could happen for real at any time (and the screenwriter cleverly slips in the notion that there could be sequels on the horizon in other major cities).
But, if you’re a fan of disaster movies, then Into the Storm should definitely be on your radar (see what I did there). It may be implausible at times, but at least it gives you some people to care for while the world implodes around them. (And if you’re wondering, there is even a flying cow — a fake one — seen in the distance which may have been a little wink to Twister.)