INTO THE STORM
Review by Gordon Justesen
Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Matt Walsh, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Arlen Escarpeta
Director: Steven Quale
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 89 Minutes
Release Date: November 18, 2014
“Dude, my armhairs!”
You’ve gotta hand it to a movie that, at the end of the day, isn’t even pretending to not be a carbon copy of another popular flick of the same ilk, and yet somehow manages to deliver the goods. That’s very much the case with Into the Storm, which is best described as a near 20 year update of Twister, but with a shorter running time and a slightly different approach.
If you’ve seen the trailer, you pretty much know what to expect...which would be straight up spectacle. And I’d be lying if I said the movie didn’t deliver that in major doses. The acting and story (I’m not even sure there is a story) isn’t at the greatest level but, once again, people who want to see a movie like this come for the disaster scenes and visual effects, and with a fast pace and an 89 minute running time, you may not even remember the flaws of the movie by the end.
Told in the “found footage” approach, the only major distinction between this and the OTHER movie, the story is set in the small all American town of Silverton on the day of the town’s high school graduation. We are introduced to a wide collection of stock characters, most notably the vice principal of the school, Gary (Richard Armitage), whose wife’s death has effected his relationship with his son, Donnie (Max Deacon), who’s incredibly lovestruck over pretty girl Kaitlyn (Alycia Debnam-Carey). I just nailed two movie cliches in one sentence there!
Meanwhile, a team of stormchasers/documentarians have arrived in Silverton after getting word that a major tornado is about to touchdown. Heading up the team is storm researcher Allison (Sarah Wayne Callies), who’s a single mother constantly worrying about her 5 year old daughter back home, and hard headed veteran stormchaser Pete (Matt Walsh), whose main concern is finding the best possible footage of disaster weather so he can sell it to the networks and profit. Two more cliches for ya!
Eventually, a monstrous storm does surface in Silverton. It starts with large chunks of hail, then grows into a tornado the likes of which not even Jan de Bont could have imagined! As the tornado increases with destructive force, Gary and Allison cross paths and try to find Donnie, who ventured off from the high school graduation to shoot a project with his secret crush...oh, who cares...BRING ON THE DESTRUCTION!
Though I appear to be taking joy in mocking the movie, I do wholeheartedly recommend it on a straight up thrilling level. The visual effects work here is nothing short of magnificent, and the many sequences involving the storm and it’s destruction are at times jaw dropping. And we get two incredible moments that not even Twister had the kahunas to pull off: a sequence where the twister separates into three and catch fire when demolishing a gas station, and a moment near the end where a person inside a vehicle is caught in the eye of the storm...and shot right up into the heavens.
I’m back and forth on the whole found footage process. It didn’t necessarily need to be applied here, but at the same time does add a unique approach to a movie of this type and, amazingly enough, I didn’t find it all too distracting. Into the Storm is a prime cut example of a movie where you simply check your brain at the door for a quick 90 minutes and enjoy the ride, which is all this movie tries to be...and succeeds!
This is a movie that would be rather hard to mess up in HD, and Warner sure doesn’t let that happen with a strikingly awesome Blu-ray handling. The constant outdoor photography, full of superb detail, combined with the stunning visual effects make for a visual experience at home that you won’t soon forget. The tornadoes are so consistently in your face, that you might find yourself about to duck for cover in your living room (if only a 3D version of the movie existed)!
Warner is unquestionably on a roll with the sound performance of their releases this year, as illustrated by Godzilla and Edge of Tomorrow. Now, we have another surefire candidate for best sounding disc of the year with this release. The 5.1 DTS HD mix will do nothing short of bring the storm into your home with a sound performance that’s loud, ferocious and, dare I say, a bit frightening at times (in a good way!). The balance between destruction, music score and dialogue delivery is impressively terrific, as I’m sure a lot of hard work had to go into to perfecting such a balance. Definitely a Blu-ray release you’ll want to get to show off a good sound system!
Included on this Warner Blu-ray release are three featurettes; “Into the Storm: Tornado Files”, which features interviews with actual stormchasers, “Titus: The Ultimate Storm Chasing Vehicle”, where we get an up close look at the awesome tank-like vehicle that ventures into the eye of the storm, and “Fake Storms, Real Conditions”, which shows how all the storm and destruction scenes were simulated.
Into the Storm is a downright guilty pleasure, and delivers exactly what it promises on a massive scale! The Blu-ray release from Warner adds a lot to the experience with the tremendous sound and picture quality, and is a must have offering on that basis alone!