Plot: In the span of a single day, the town of Silverton is ravaged by an unprecedented onslaught of tornadoes. The entire town is at the mercy of the erratic and deadly cyclones, even as storm trackers predict the worst is yet to come. Most people seek shelter, while others run towards the vortex, testing how far a storm chaser will go for that once-in-a-lifetime shot.
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After reviewing The Perfect Storm (2000) yesterday in our Retro Review, we decided to stick with the same thing – Mother Nature – with our newer review today. Looking around, we decided to go with Into the Storm. Would this new tornado film excite like Twister (1996)? Or is Into the Storm nothing but an inferior cousin?
Sarah Wayne Callies headlines Into the Storm. While she’s started popping up in movies (like recent film The Other Side of the Door (2016)), most viewers will recognize her from her TV roles in “Prison Break” (TV) and “The Walking Dead” (TV). As the smart weather gal of the pic, she does a good job of keeping the viewer entertained, while not straying too much from her previous roles. She’s good at portraying a likable – if conflicted – gal, and she keeps that up here.
Richard Armitage, who has popped up previously in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) and it’s sequels, is also decent here. Okay, so he’s not easily recognizable. Yet, his portrayal of a father searching for one of his sons during the crazy tornado swarm that has descended on his small town is probably the strongest performance of Into the Storm, which sadly claims Mother Nature as it’s most well-rounded cast member.
Max Deacon and Nathan Kress are also decent as brothers Donnie and Trey, respectively, even if their characters aren’t incredibly fleshed out. Matt Walsh, known more for his comedic roles in films like The Hangover (2009) and Ted (2012), gives a surprisingly decent dramatic performance, despite the film trying to equally portray him as both villain and hero.
But the real star of Into the Storm is Mother Nature herself. Unlike Twister (1996), which had strong acting chops in the forms of Bill Paxton, Cary Elwes and Helen Hunt, this film’s acting performances are overshadowed by special effects that have been jacked up even past those of that previous tornado movie. True, those special effects are pretty amazing. They seem to have taken Twister (1996) as a base and increased the effects ten-fold. Even the use of shaky cams give the effects an in-your-face realism that more traditional filming effects have a hard time matching. Unfortunately, with so much emphasis on the effects, little is left for the actors, and viewers will forget most of the characters easily.
While Matt Walsh, Sarah Wayne Callies and especially Richard Armitage try to lend a much-needed human element to the story, the film doesn’t seem to give them enough time to develop much in the way of characters, leaving them feeling rather one-dimensional. It’s a testament to Armitage’s performance that the viewer will care at all about what happens to him, rather than any effort by the film itself.
Given that, if you’re looking for some sort of deep character film, this film obviously isn’t for you. With the help of shaky cams (a new fad in Hollywood since the success of Cloverfield (2008)), however, this special effects extravaganza brings Mother Nature as close to your doorstep as you’d ever want it. A popcorn-chomper for sure, viewers should have a good time. And yet, even with it’s special effects dialed way up, Into the Storm has a lack of character interest that leaves it just a bit behind it’s older cousin, Twister (1996).