Director: Steven Quale
Cast: Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Matt Walsh
TORNADOES have had a long association with Oklahoma; at least since 1900, when a girl and her dog were famously swept up over the rainbow, not so far away. No such whimsy in Into The Storm. Placing its action firmly within Oklahoma, and feet solidly into territory earlier explored by 1996’s Twister, this film exists to batter, to impress and, against its grain, to make a feeble human connection.
On the first two aspects, Into The Storm succeeds, including in placing tornadoes 1, 2, 3…and on within the context of our times and its information behemoth demanding to be constantly fed. So when the twisters strike the small Silverton town, they find not just a storm chaser team trailing them for fame and prosperity, but also teens videographing time capsules, a girl filming a school project and the quintessential dimwits trying to brave the storms to catapult to YouTube celebritydom. The film is portrayed as a collection of such footage discovered after the tragedy.
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Quale, who has worked as an assistant director with James Cameron in both Titanic and Avatar, does well to capture the devastation winds moving at speeds of 300 miles an hour can wrought, managing to depict from the smallest vehicle tossing about on the ground to the giant aeroplanes thrown up into the clouds. A body sucked up into a vortex that is aflame is particularly frightening. Into The Storm moves fast between episodes and generally doesn’t waste its time on details nobody is interested in in films like these.
However, the Cameron effect also shows in the huge broad strokes of his main characters, including the sturdy vice-principal and single father struggling to raise two teens, the career mother torn over a five-year-old daughter left back home, the single-minded leader of the storm-chasing team who has been compared to Cameron himself for his “dedication”, and the feckless youngsters themselves who enter situations they have scarcely thought through.
A longish episode between two such teens — a guy and his crush — who are getting slowly submerged in water is particularly unwatchable in how Quale tries to play it for maximum sniffles.
Armitage, as the vice-principal, does the best he can with his limited role and it’s nice to see him not weighed under by the mane and the clothes of The Hobbit. Anybody looking for a Hugh Jackman lookalike should come knocking on his doors very soon.
However, this film is seriously and only into the storm. Everything else just has to make way.