Into the Storm Blu-ray Review
Where’s Bill Paxton when you need him?
Into the Storm Film Review
Despite the advances in cameras and effects, this found-footage-style storm movie is shot in a nausea-inducing fashion and will make you yearn for the dated but dependable Twister.It surely should have been a simple concept? After all, with next to no setup, Into the Storm practically throws us in medias res, with a hell of a storm heading towards a small town, and a team of elite storm chasers hot on its tail. They should have really called it Twister 2 and committed to a decent effects-driven follow-up, but instead focussed on the found footage style of the piece and jumped on that bandwagon, derailing any sense of cohesion and leaving you with a bunch of badly-edited, frenetically-shot sequences which, more often than not, fizzle out just as they get started.Sure, there’s plenty of wanton destruction rained down on this small town, but it’s all picked up in the aftermath, with only a few moments actually highlighting the ferocity of the storm as its hitting. And with zero characters to root for – the Hobbit’s Richard Armitage and Walking Dead’s Sarah Wayne Callies, along with a bunch of teen muppets consistently frustrate, and are wholly underdeveloped – it’s all down to the effects; effects which are continually sapped of their potential effect by the unruly found footage gimmickry. There are found footage films that work in similar environments – Chronicle springs to mind – but the focus has to be on characters first and foremost. Blending found footage with storm effects just ruins the experience, leaving this an abortive anticlimax of a storm movie.
Blu-ray Picture QualityInto the Storm hits Region Free UK Blu-ray courtesy of Warner, who dish up a solid 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation, framed in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen.
Notwithstanding the expected, intentional, side-effects of all the found-footage gimmickry on offer, this is a solid video presentation.
Detail is generally very good, with decent facial close-ups which reveal skin textures, clothing weaves and background flourishes, as well as the weathered, battered vehicles and environments. All this comes with few – but not no – digital defects. The thing is, whilst some of the HD footage looks immaculate, other segments are scratchy and grainy and peppered with banding and softness. And all this is not to mention the frustrating nausea-inducing style adopted for the piece which often makes you feel like averting your eyes, even at the most important moments. The colour scheme is intentionally dour. Sure, there are a few nice daytime shots which boast vibrant primaries in the form of lush greenery and popping clothing colour choices, but as soon as the storm hits things go into desperately grey territory. Far from a pretty looking movie, and hard to regard as a demo presentation, this still looks about as good as you could possibly expect from this movie.
Blu-ray Audio QualityThe aural accompaniment comes in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 flavour and it’s a superior effort, pummelling at you from every angle when it’s not hitting you front and centre. Even the quieter moments are brimming with fully-resolved atmospheric capability; the surrounds don’t just benefit from the storm’s eye view – they bring the prelude to life with all the birds chirping and the environment popping with activity. Of course the storms are the highlight, with thunder cracking open your living room with LFE dominance, and tornados whipping all around.
From the pelting hailstorm to the hurtling aircraft taking on a life of their own, your living room becomes a full-on stormfront.
All the while dialogue manages to rise above the piece, given precedence across the fronts and centre channels, coming through clearly and coherently throughout. Whilst the story might not be up to much; the style is all over the shop; and the video is far from perfect, the audio does not in any way disappoint and strikes home just shy of earning a perfect 10.
Blu-ray ExtrasIn terms of extras we only get a few offerings with three Featurettes rounding out the supplemental: Into the Storm: Tornado Files looks at the scientific conditions behind the storms; Titus: The Ultimate Storm-Chasing Vehicle investigates the storm tank they use to chase storms; and Fake Storms: Real Conditions looks behind how they re-created the stormy effects. There are also a few previews on disc startup.
Blu-ray VerdictInto the Storm could have easily been a cheesy, chirpy, follow-up to Twister. With modern technology and effects, the storm sequences could have been spectacular. All you needed was Bill Paxton. Unfortunately the filmmakers here went the other route; attempting to be more hip and modern and relevant by going for the whole found footage thing. And having an entire town decimated by a trio of tornados whilst the townsfolk scramble to upload their mobile phone footage onto facebook just makes zero sense whatsoever. The found footage style not only disrupts the story, and limits the characterisations, but it also aborts plenty of the more tense storm sequences before they even get started, not to mention making you feel positively nauseous in the process.
This should have been an easy home run, but found footage derails what promised to be an event spectacle.
In terms of tech specs, the UK Blu-ray release boasts decent enough video - notwithstanding the dodgy camcorder moments and near-monochromatic palette - and spectacular audio, as well as a few extras. Fans will probably have little to complain about. Those who have fond memories of Twister, or even those who are just interested in a storm-driven effects spectacle, may want to dial down their expectations. This is a flimsy, fatally flawed TV movie which will frustrate more frequently than it entertains.
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