Into The Storm

Year: 2014
Production Co: Broken Road Productions
Studio: Warner Bros.
Director: Steven Quale
Producer: Todd Garner
Writer: John Swetnam
Cast: Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Jeremy Sumpter

All the reviews I'd heard about this film talked about how terrible and corny the characters were, and at the time it was out in cinemas that was one of the reasons I was put off by it.

All I can say having watched it on DVD is that whoever complained about it must not have remembered the irascible Twister. Any cliches in the relationships were ten times worse in that movie, and though the science of killer storms was just as hokey (once in a lifetime weather event, etc), the depiction of storms, tornadoes and how they behave was a considerable amount better.

It also had better continuity – as storms close in, the skies get darker and more foreboding, without the characters being menaced by twisters while standing in full sunlight or having them seek out victims like cruise missiles like we saw in Jan de Bont's 1995 camp-fest.

The film spends just enough time setting up the characters. There's the irritating high school age brothers, the hot girl one of them has a crush on, the father who doesn't have time for them because he's also the deputy principal at their school, and the storm chasing team short on footage for their documentary and getting desperate.

When hell is unleashed in the middle of the graduation ceremony, the serious brother (not the comic sidekick brother) has talked the hot girl into letting him help her with a video project, so they've skipped out to film in an abandoned mill building.

As the first of many tornadoes descends, the kids and teachers run screaming into the school building, the old mill collapses on top of the lovebirds and the documentary team – prepped and ready in their iron tank-car that holds onto to the ground using special anchors – set off in pursuit.

But things soon turn deadly, and to the film's credit, there isn't really a single clear-cut hero who can do anything, drive anything and save anyone like Dwayne Johnson in San Andreas. You genuinely don't really know who's going to have to save who, so what little story there is keeps you on your toes.

But you're there for the same reason so many people lined up for San Andreas (and it's not Dwayne's pecs, either) – disaster-movie destruction on a massive scale.

It would be hard for a film of this size released by a major studio not to have decent effects, considering the money that would have been spent on it. It was never going to be high art, but there are a lot worse movies around when you consider the crimes against story and characterisation.

In the end all that's left to wonder is how a town that small has an airport big enough to have half a dozen 747s parked at it, waiting for a mile wide tornado to come along and start tossing them around like toys.

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