Sunday, November 16, 2014

Video review: "Into the Storm"

After I saw “Into the Storm” this summer I dismissed it as forgettable entertainment, but apparently I was even more spot-on in this assessment than I thought. When I was looking over titles in deciding what new video to write about this week, I literally couldn’t remember if I’d seen it or not.

That doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s a perfectly agreeable special effects-heavy disaster thriller, with a few spectacular scenes as a major tornado event rips through a fictional Midwestern town. The characters are flat and uninteresting, and exist merely as the audience’s stand-ins as they bear witness to the unfolding spectacle.

To say the movie borrows from 1997’s “Twister” is an understatement; this is essentially an unauthorized remake. A team of stormchasers cruises around in a specially modified vehicle that is tornado-proof -- we’ll see about that! -- to capture the storm for posterity, scientific data and social media dap. Soon they’re in over their heads and debris is flying everywhere around.

This is part of the “found footage” style of filmmaking, in which the characters are using video cameras to record what happens to them in real time. It’s a nice gimmick, but sometimes you wonder why people don’t put down their camcorders to help their fellows in need.

Matt Walsh and Sarah Wayne Callies play the clashing leaders of the storm team; Richard Armitage is the vice principal of the local high school given to derring-do; Max Deacon and Nathan Kress) play his video-happy sons; and Alycia Debnam Carey is the obligatory cute girl.

“Into the Storm” is the cinematic equivalent of fast food: quick, cheap, tasty and soon evacuated from mind and body.

DVD extras are limited to a single making-of featurettes, “Fake Storms: Real Conditions.” Upgrade to the Blu-ray combo pack and you add two more, “Into the Storm: Tornado Files” and “Titus: The Ultimate Chasing Vehicle.”



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