Into The Storm (Warner Bros.)
Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense destruction and peril, and language including some sexual references.
Starring Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Matt Walsh, Max Deacon, Nathan Kress, Alycia Debnam Carey, Arlen Escarpeta, Jeremy Sumpter, Lee Whittaker, Kyle Davis, Jon Reep, Scott Lawrence, David Drumm, Brandon Ruiter.
Written by John Swetnam.
Directed by Steven Quale.
GRADE: (zero stars)
Disasters happen all the time, and no one is usually able to predict when they hit. Some disasters happen on purpose – in the form of films so terrible, they warrant a “zero stars” allocation from critics like me. Into The Storm is one of those movie disasters that could have been avoided.
The story centers around a group of people living in the small town of Silverton, Indiana, as a massive storm descends on their quiet hamlet, rendering multiple tornadoes. At the center of the group is high school assistant principal Gary (Richard Armitage) and his sons Donnie (Max Deacon) and Trey (Nathan Kress). Donnie is secretly in love with a girl named Kaitlyn (Alicia Debnam Carey), and has a lot of “daddy issues” since the death of his mother.
Meanwhile, a group of storm chasers led by the biggest-jerk-in-the-world filmmaker Pete (Matt Walsh) comes to town, trying to catch a big tornado on video. The storm chaser team has its own meteorologist named Allison (Sarah Wayne Callies) and a few other folks who are just there to work cameras or be killed when the storm hits. Oh yeah, there are two hillbilly idiots who also fancy themselves as storm chasers popping up in various scenes for “comic effect.”
The “big one” does indeed hit Silverton, and the lives of all the characters intertwine into a ball of stupidity as destruction rains from the skies.
Into The Storm is a head-scratcher in terms of cinematic conception, execution and sense.
Leading off, let’s start with the idea that most of the film is supposed to represent real-life “found footage” (i.e. Blair Witch, Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity, Chronicle) with many scenes shot as if the characters themselves are operating really good HD video cameras, and happen to pick up really important conversations that push the lame narrative along. One such moment occurs as Donnie and Gary have one of those “you-disappoint-me/”you-don’t-understand-me” father/son discussions, which Trey captures on video – just for us. Such insults to the audience’s intelligence are the tip of the “found footage” iceberg. Into The Storm is full of such scenes that mock the idea of real documentaries.
The only characteristic of Into The Storm that deserves any inkling of praise might be the tornado special effects, but even top-notch CG can’t save this disaster movie from certain disaster. Moreover, Into The Storm might be a great case study of what “not” to do in a tornado – or at least what “not” to do when making a disaster movie.
The movie is a veritable vortex of stupidity, right down to the scene where the town’s (apparently) (international) airport is destroyed by an F-5 tornado, with Boeing 747s tossed into the sky.
The film is so bad, it will induce unintentional laughter, and the only thing that could have made Into The Storm better might have been the addition of sharks. At least the “Sharknado” people know they’re being campy. I’m pretty sure the writer and director didn’t want people to laugh when one of the characters is sucked into a “firenado.”
Another thing: One of the Into The Storm characters posits the idea that "Global Warming" is responsible for the superstorm that produces dozens of twisters, all at once, within yards of each other. So, if you're a global warming "believer" and such a thing doesn't happen (in reality), won't the movie hurt your case to get more people behind saving the planet? I'm still waiting for the new ice age caused by global warming in The Day After Tomorrow (2004).
One more thing: Richard Armitage needs to fire his agent. He’s the guy who plays Thorin Oakenshield in the Hobbit trilogy, and he may long regret ever picking up the Into The Storm script. It is the absolute worst film of the year (so far).