August 12, 2014
I saw the trailer of Into the Storm and was curious as to how different could this movie be from Twister (1996) which is also about chasing tornados in the American Midwest. Also, I figured this film would probably be the perfect one to go see to try out the new 4DX theater in town, with all the storm effects going on around me.
In the small Midwestern town of Silverton, a high school was holding their outdoor graduation ceremony, oblivious that a tornado was going to run right through them. Meanwhile, a desperate storm filming crew keeps right on chasing these tornadoes seemingly unmindful of the risks. To add some complicating circumstance, two students just had to do an off-campus location video shoot right on on that same day the tornadoes hit. So there was not really any substantial story. That's ok, that did not really matter.
The central family composed of the school vice principal Gary and his two sons Donnie and Trey were played by Richard Armitage with Max Deacon and Nathan Kress. The ruthless main storm-chaser Pete was played by Matt Walsh. The lead meteorologist Allison was played by Sarah Wayne Callies. They even got Scott Lawrence, an actor who looked and spoke like President Barack Obama, to play the clueless school principal. I did not know any of these actors. You might enjoy watching a couple of daredevil country bumpkins played by Kyle Davis and Jon Reep chase tornadoes on their beat-up pickup or tractor. So there were not really any big name stars in the cast. That's ok, they did not really matter as well.
However, as expected what the production saved on story and cast, they poured the majority of the budget on the massive computer-generated special effects. Of course, with the considerable advance of visual effects technology since 1996 when "Twister" wowed us all with flying cow and the like, the degree of devastation seen onscreen in "Into the Storm" was so much greater. Director Steven Quale just wants to bring us right into the thick of a monster tornado with multiple vortices. THAT is the main point of this film. (Unfortunately, the trailer already showed how the super strong winds were able to pick up jumbo jets and trailer trucks, so those big scenes were not a surprise anymore, which was a pity.)
So, was the 4DX worth it? For me, yes. It added a sense of fun. It feels a bit guilty to say the word "fun" knowing you are watching a grand-scale disaster unfold with an untold toll of lives and property. So in that perverse sense of entertainment, yes, those shaking seats, strong winds and lightning flashes did add so much to the realism of the special effects you see onscreen. I really felt like I was in a dangerous storm. But I also felt like I was riding a 90-minute long amusement park ride. Too bad that I did not feel any water spraying on me though, despite the fact that there was splashing water on the screen. I also mistakenly thought that the whole film would be in 3D when you watch in 4DX. It was not.
So, just ask yourself, do you want to experience how it is going to feel like to be right in the middle of a tornado? If you say yes, then you go watch this film and have a blast with all the realistic effects. However, since we live right on the path of several tropical cyclones, I guess that won't be much of a come-on in these parts of the world. But I think that vicarious thrill may still draw a lot of people in. 6/10.