TR Review: Into the Storm, the Found-Footage Twister You Didn’t Know You Don’t Need
It’s been said many a time before about a great many movies (as opposed to may great ones), but Into the Storm really does represent a triumph of special effects above any other aspects of cinematic storytelling, to the point that almost no other elements are in play (WB, don’t you dare selectively quote the phrase “a triumph” here). No name actors save (arguably) The Hobbit‘s Richard Armitage, neutered in a generic suit with a bland American accent; no story to speak of, and the vaguest of overly obvious characteristics hopelessly designed to give the characters something, anything to work with: a dead mother here, an absent father there, a broad Southern accent to signify stupidity…when none of this is enough, the movie resorts to actual one-sentence descriptions of the characters onscreen, because, oh yeah, this is a found-footage film.
Hilariously, it’s even positioned by movie’s end as an educational film people risked their lives to make. And yet the only lesson learned here is that we can make CGI tornadoes look really cool now, even without an assist from the fake digital sharks you can currently see swirling around the Syfy channel in something slightly more entertaining.
Director Steven Quale (of Final Destination 5, which similarly favors destruction over character) knows how to put an action sequence together – a bit with teens in jeopardy in a flooding basement is a tense standout, and would be moreso if we gave more of a shit about “these kids” versus “any kids” – but fails to do much with writer John Swetnam’s (Step Up All In) clunky, gratuitous exposition-dropping dialogue. The biggest disappointment, in fact, is that early references to an abandoned building full of toxic chemicals are not, in fact, a set-up for a TOXNADO later in the movie…though we do get a fire-nado, which is undeniably cool so long as you’ve never had to experience anything like it in real life.
While there may be no surprises in the plot, the biggest surprise is that this isn’t officially a Twister reboot, in an age where lower-budget ripoffs have all but vanished from the landscape because the same few media companies own everything. Could it be that Twister is that rare former blockbuster which has no value as an IP? Because even back then we knew we were supposed to like it because it was the big, expensive summer movie, and no other reason? Into the Storm, while smartly sporting a much shorter run-time under an hour and a half, similarly features uninteresting storm-chasers in a movie we’re supposed to enjoy for the CG and no other reason…and it even has a visual nod to the only thing anyone remembers about Twister – that’s right, a flying cow. Only, because we’re more sensitive today than we were even in the PC ’90s, it’s a replica cow on a sign rather than an actual (storyline) animal in peril.
|Reevis and Rut-Head|
Well, more sensitive about some things. Idiot beer-drinking rednecks are still fair game for broad mockery, and thank God they are, because even though the two characters named Reevis (Jon Reep) and Donk (Kyle Davis) are grotesque stereotypes, that still gives them more personality than anyone else – they’re stupid, and they like to make Jackass-style viral videos. (But seriously…Reevis? Was Scooby-Doo watching cartoons while writing this? “Rut up, rumb-ass! Ron’t make me rick your rass!”)
If you must see Into The Storm, you’ll want to see it on a big screen with good sound, as the only charms it has are ones that will dissipate as quickly as clouds on a hot day the smaller your viewscreen gets. But I can’t really endorse paying full price, either, so where do we go from there? A common question the characters in the movie who talk directly to the camera are asked is where they’ll be in 20 years, so I’ll put that to you…do you want to be the one looking back and saying you went to see Into the Storm, or that you did something useful for yourself, like making a smoothie or jerking off?