Wednesday 13 August 2014

Review: Into The Storm

World of Blackout Film Review

Into The Storm Poster

Into The Storm
Cert: 12A / 89 mins / Dir. Steven Quale
WoB Rating: 2/7

Before I get stuck in, let me say right at the top that the effects-work in Into The Storm is nothing short of outstanding. When the twisters are closing in and hurling cars and farm machinery into the air, you feel every howl, whoosh, and gut-wrenching crack. More to the point, the cinematography in those scenes is breathtaking, too. The sheer chaos and savage beauty of the squall is thrust at the viewer with deafening precision as the audience collectively holds its breath, either wide-eyed or peeping from the corner of one eye.

Which is why it's a real shame that the rest of the film is such an utter turd. Taking the standard disaster-movie structure that outstayed its welcome in the 1990s, John Swetnam's screenplay is so formulaic and unashamedly dumb it makes Roland Emmerich's work look like Wes Anderson's. Perhaps the worst part is that the film spends 15 minutes clunkily setting up a device whereby each of the four groups we'll encounter are recording any-and-everything on video cameras, in order to give the film that found-footage feel that the kids are loving these days*1. Notwithstanding the fact that the professional cameras, semi-pro domestic cameras and redneck-owned cameraphones all seem to be recording at the same ultra hi-def, super-stabilised resolution with crystal-clear audio levels, we also get plenty of shots which can't be filmed by any of the characters. The film never forgets about the first-person vibe, it just can't be bothered to stick to it.

Hastily slapped onto this are some of the most one-dimensional characters ever to be partially-written, substituting phone conversations with their children for character-depth, and autopiloted soundbites for meaningful interaction. Of course Richard Armitage has got to be a single-father doing his best to raise his two sons after his wife's death. Of course Sarah Wayne Callies has to be a brilliant, if underrated workaholic meteorologist with a five-year old daughter she doesn't see enough and that breaks her heart at twenty minute intervals. Of course Matt Walsh's hardened stormchaser is going to redeem his arsehole personality by sacrificing himself for the good of the group and seeing the eye of the storm first-hand just like he's always wanted before dying*2. Of course the supporting cast of young identikit actors will barely even have names, let alone personalities (guess which one's going to die next? You're right, it doesn't really matter).

Only in this film would a group of people decide to hide in a storm drain (a structure designed to be flooded with water during a storm), during a storm, ten minutes after two of the lead characters almost drowned. Only in this film would the grilles at either end of the storm-drain be held on by two trucks outside and a length of steel winch-cable pulling them together, which everyone holds onto as a super-massive electrical storm passes directly overhead. Only in this film would the ill-timed comic relief come from two redneck stormchasers who are a danger to everyone around them throughout the film, but are also apparently invincible as the hi-def cameras which operate, untended, for the film's entire runtime.

Thankfully, it's all over in less than an hour and a half, done and dusted in time for hugs and clean-up operations under blue skies, and eggshell platitudes straight-to-camera. It's never the ones you want to die that buy the farm…

The second-stupidest film of the year, if big, loud, but ultimately empty bangs are your thing, you may well get something out of Into The Storm. Then again, if you're happy to pay £10 for an extended effects showreel, propped up with a script written by a computer, Expendables 3 comes out in a couple of days…

Is the trailer representative of the film?
Oh, the trailer aspires to be as stupid as the film, but two and a half minutes isn't long enough to convey the absolute fucking density of the completed work.

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?
I winced during the storm scenes, and I winced during the rest of it.

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
I have no idea.

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
Asda. £3 bin. Within 12 months. Seriously.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
You know what? I probably will.

Will I watch it again?
You know what? Not a chance.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
There is. It doesn't help.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

And my question for YOU is…
How little do 'The Walking Dead' and 'The Hobbit' pay, that Callies and Armitage accepted this job without reading the script?

*1 Traslation: that NO-ONE is loving these days.
*2 No, that's not a spoiler. That's my point. If anything, director Steven Quale spoiled this film by making it.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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