Into The Storm: A Reaction

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Consider these my notes for my upcoming review of Into The Storm.

+ This summer season, Warner Bros. has two summer movies that defied my expectations. First they released Edge Of Tomorrow, and now they are releasing Into The Storm. Both of these movies have the advantage of not being connected into any franchise currently running and they are both standalone stories that are not sequel or prequel to anything. They also share another common quality: being absolutely entertaining to me as a moviegoer.

+ I could nitpick and say that Into The Storm has minimal character development and it is riddled with disaster movie cliché (there has to be at least one authority figure who challenges the hero’s attempt to save all of their lives, right?) It also has pacing problems in which the non-tornado moments felt really rushed and end up being inconsequential. But I choose not to nitpick, for reasons I will elaborate below…

+ Because who can nitpick when you have such awesomely disastrous tornado scenes? Disastrous is not even the word. Catastrophic is more like it. For a movie that doesn’t really have a villain, director Steven Quale has successfully made a supervillain out of those tornadoes. Hell hath no fury like Mother Nature scorned. This movie is scary enough to make me paranoid and want to build a bunker and become a survivalist.

+ There’s a heightened sense of danger here, especially because the heroes are not depicted entirely as heroes. Gary and his sons weren’t anything special. Their relationship, especially in the way they annoy each other, was completely relatable. Pete and Allison’s teams ticked another box in the cliché list but I’ve had co-workers who behave and interact with me that way, so – again – this was believable. Whether they were trying to run away or run into the storm, I found them not particularly heroic in the way protagonists are, so they all seemed all the more vulnerable against the imminent disaster.

+ Coming back to Gary and his sons’ interaction, there was this odd moment in the movie where I felt like they were imitating my own life. Gary’s response to his sons in the beginning? Totally my own father’s response to me. That was weird. And also, that was how I knew they pulled it off in being a family.

+ Funnily enough, I didn’t think he could do it. Sue me but I didn’t think Richard Armitage could pull of being an everyman… but he did! I always thought he was built for tall, dark, broody and mysterious characters, but here he was, being so normal and all, almost without standing out. Even Sarah Wayne Callies stood more as the meteorologist than Gary the teacher. It was amazing.

+ Being a TV buff these days, Into The Storm was full of recognizable faces. In fact, it felt at times like the merging of my TV fandoms… Sarah Wayne Callies represented The Walking Dead, Matt Walsh Veep, Jeremy Sumpter Friday Night Lights… there was even that annoying drug addict of a Ballard student from Crisis (Brandon Ruiter; playing yet another jackass in this movie)!

+ The low profile cast helped the story in my opinion. The summer movie blockbusters are always a parade of A-list stars; sometimes there are so much star power in one single movie that you get distracted from the story by their celebrity status. Into The Storm may have been made up of relatively unknown actors in the cast, but they are exactly what the story needed to tell it on screen. It truly is amusing and uplifting how a small budget flick like Into The Storm can pack more finesse and quality in terms of acting compared to the likes of Transformers: Age Of Extinction.

+ Have I ever mentioned how much I hate found footage films? It was okay the first or second time around, but after so many movies used this format, I’ve decided that it is just not for me. I didn’t even like how it was used in Earth To Echo (another summer indie project that I quite admire), but I felt that the format worked for Into The Storm. My fears of the film being visually obnoxious were unfounded because somehow Brian Pearson – the DoP – made the found footage aspect of it work for the story. Plus, THE TORNADOES. Still awesome.

+ I’d mention some of my favorite tornado destruction scenes but that would count as spoilers and I don’t want that.

+ Brian Tyler scored the film. Just thought you ought to know that.

+ In my book, Into The Storm has become an instant disaster movie classic. I’m not into this genre, so maybe I’m not the best person to decide what’s a classic or not, but I can safely say I prefer this film to anything Roland Emmerich has made. The direction lacks the gloss and panache of a big budget studio production but it’s still solid and assured in presentation. It’s still popcorn flick for the summer season, but it also has enough heart and humanity in the story, aside of the awesome spectacles (GIANT TORNADO!), to avoid being a brainless entertainment.

To close this reaction post: this movie received an applause from the guests at my media screening (an official screening held by the studio for members of the press and other guests). That puts it on par with another summer movie WB has released this summer, Godzilla.

Into The Storm is released in Indonesia Wednesday, 6 August 2014.

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