“Into the Storm” review – will the real main characters please stand up?

into the storm

This review contains spoilers.

I was helping out the production company a bit on the PR of “Into the Storm” here in Sweden and was supposed to have seen the press screening of the movie. I missed out on that one and instead saw the movie some 10 days later. By then, I ended up in a nearly empty theater – apparently it wasn’t doing too good in the box offices!

My expectations of the movie were low, I had not read any reviews (on purpose) but I had seen some ratings and knew I would not get pleasantly surprised by it. All I wished for was to see cool action scenes with tornadoes and other storm related stuff…

…well, that’s pretty much what I got.

When I started writing this review I tried to explain the “plot”, the characters etc. but I’ll make it brief: This movie would have done so much better without actors in it – or if they would actually have had actors in it!

Obviously, you need to have a plot and characters to follow but a major mistake of “Into the storm” is that they believe they actually brings something interesting to the movie – they don’t. Why not accept the fact that the tornadoes and the storms are the main characters of the movie and let them get more screen time?! The actors are bad but it’s the script that really makes large portions of the movie almost unbearable.

So, the plot sucks. Now, what about the tornado action scenes?

I didn’t clock it, but for being a storm movie it takes forever (25 minutes?) before some storms actually starts to appear (outside of the opening scene). Once they do, it is mostly a feast for the eye though. The CGI and sound effects are great most of the time!

Some memorable scenes:

  • The school tornado scene is one of my favorites. It’s obviously been inspired by the Joplin tornado hitting a school. Just like the opening scene it is merely from an inside view and you never really see the tornado, which makes it really intense.
  • The overview shots from above in general, especially from the huge last tornado, in which you see the effect it has on the landscape and the destruction of it. It is quite terrifying and really well made.
  • The destruction of the buildings feels quite authentic in general, especially with the drillbit tornadoes.
  • Yeah, I liked the firenado as well. It was neat.
  • The tank getting lifted up into the stratosphere is stupid and completely unrealistic – but I loved it! It depicts the only fun acting in the movie in which the Reed Timmer / Sean Casey-mix-of-a-storm chaser can’t really decide whether to scream or smile.

 

So, I was even pleasantly surprised by the tornado scenes but I would have wished for far more of them. They acknowledge the hail of the storms but don’t use it for anything. I mean, a scene with grapefruit sized hail in strong side winds could have been really intense and showed some other cool feature of storms. They also miss out of the opportunity to show how scary mothership storm structure could look like, it’s just dark skies all over.

That is pretty much the whole problem of the movie. It is a movie about storms, for people who are fascinated by or scared of storms but it keeps coming back to scenes with full attention to the “actors”. Since the actors don’t manage to put a single drop of life into their characters you don’t care what happens to them – and I end up hoping the tornadoes would suck them up sooner, rather than later.

 

How realistic is “Into the storm”?

In order to determine how realistic a movie is one has to put it into a “movie logics” perspective. Realistic and likely is not the same thing, and shouldn’t be either. As long as a movie depicts things that could happen, it’s fine. A movie doesn’t necessarily have to follow external logic (“would that even be possible?”) as long as it sets its own rules, but it must follow those rules and its own internal logic (“if this thing is possible in this movie, then that would happen as well”).

Considering that, these are a few of my comments about how realistic “Into the storm” is.

  • Let’s say this storm is really strong enough to suck up a 3 ton tank all the way through the updraft – this would literally mean that this super storm would produce 3-ton hail as well. It doesn’t.
  • The funnel clouds and the way they come down from the sky from semi-dark skies. Most of the time they are created straight out of the blue…sorry, gray.
  • The winds are completely irradic. Sometimes they can run in winds that lift up cars, sometimes they are being pulled into twisters that won’t affect smaller stuff around them.
  • The way the tornadoes dissipate. From monster tornadoes to a rope and then gone, in 2-3 seconds. That is “Twister”-logic!
  • Another “Twister”-logic is the “fact” that tornadoes have an eye. I guess no one lived to tell either way but this video from Tim Samaras shows otherwise.
  • When the father announce “The tornado warning systems are all out, the students at the school are like sitting ducks in there now” – Yes, tornado sirens are well known to, and often used to, scare tornadoes away.
  • The general way the storm chasers chase the storms:
    • “We’ve got 4-5 great hook echos on this storm!!” while pointing at a radar screen with no hook echos (as if several hook echos would be better than one).
    • “We’ve got a tornado warning” – and acts if this is the actual reason to pack up and drive.
    • They constantly get surprised about what is happening around them, although they have a van full of equipment and full access to data.
    • When the first storm creates multiple tornadoes, they don’t follow that one but instead stay in Silverton. This actually turns out to be a good idea (in terms of seeing more tornadoes) but at the time it happens, it doesn’t make sense.
  • Four tornadoes at the same time would be highly unlikely, especially in the way they appear but I guess it is not completely unrealistic.

See also this interesting Off Topic-discussion going on at this thread at Storm Track about how (un)realistic “Into the storm” is.

Well, finally. Is it worth seeing “Into the storm”? If you are fascinated by storms, then I would say yes. The action scenes makes it worth it and those should be viewed in a movie theater rather in your DVD-player at home. What I wish now is that they fire the writer, the actors and the editor of the movie while keeping the special effects team and create an “Into the storm 2”!

 

The trailers

 

 

 

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