Or, as it's otherwise known, Twister!
Stop us if this sounds familiar...A group of storm chasers convene on a town in the American mid-west to track, study and film tornados. During the course of a single day a perfect storm develops and they encounter multiple tornados. There's excitement, danger and even a flying cow. No we're not talking about 1996's Twister but Warner Bros. latest extreme weather movie Into the Storm.
Interestingly both Twister and Into the Storm are Warner productions, which at least avoids any accusations of plagiarism. Having said that, the advances in computer generated effects and sound design mean that the latest storm chaser movie has the potential to up the ante compared to Jan de Bont's earlier movie, which was made in the early days of CGI.
The story, such as it is, concerns a disparate group of strangers who all end up drawn together around the town of Silverton as it finds itself at the epicentre of the 'biggest storm there's ever been'. There's a group of professional storm chasers led by Pete (Matt Walsh from Veep), who is determined to film the inside of a tornado for a documentary. To achieve this he has built The Titus, which is an armour-plated SUV with bullet-proof glass, cameras all around and a turret with an Arri Alexa camera - on which the film itself was also shot. Pete's team includes two other cameramen, played by Jeremy Sumpter and Arlen Escarpeta, and Alison, played by Sarah Wayne Callies from Prison Break and The Walking Dead, a single mother with a PhD in meteorology.
Into the Storm combines the modern trend for 'found footage' with a more traditional approach.
Meanwhile, two thrill seeking storm-chasers who are desperate to make a name for themselves on YouTube, are following the professional team in the hope of catching their own footage of any tornados that materialise. The other major group of characters centre around teacher Gary Morris (The Hobbit's Richard Armitage) and his two sons, Trey (Nathan Kress) and Donnie (Max Deacon). Naturally both Trey and Donnie are also budding cameramen, so there are multiple sources for footage, along with the main film itself. Thus the movie often switches between a traditional third-person perspective to first-person footage and as such uses an aspect ratio is 1:85:1, making it easier to switch between the different camera sources.
Whilst the story is very derivative, holding few surprises and even some unintentional laughs, it also manages to create moments of genuine tension and no small amount of excitement. The thrills largely deliver the goods thanks to some impressive effects and well orchestrated scenes of destruction. The sight of multiple tornados tearing through towns never gets boring and the huge F5 tornado that arrives towards the end, again just like Twister, certainly raises the stakes in terms of cinematic destruction. Another area where the film really excels is in terms of its sound design and anyone managing to see the film in Dolby Atmos is in for a sonic treat.
Despite the plot's lack of originality, the effects are impressive and the destruction well orchestrated.Comparisons with Twister are inevitable given the two film's similar subject matter and plots but the older film works better because it has more memorable characters and, frankly, better actors. In case you'd forgotten Twister boasted Bill Paxton, Helen Hunt, Jeremy Davies, Alan Ruck and Philip Seymour Hoffman amongst its cast. Whilst the cast of Into the Storm try hard with largely underwritten roles, they're ultimately left with little more to do than look scared and dodge flying debris.
Into the Storm certainly manages to deliver plenty of thrills and some serious tornado-based carnage, even if it suffers the modern flaw of going too far in terms of the scale of its extreme weather. It might not be particularly original but Into the Storm is fun and exciting and anyone looking for an enjoyable evening at the cinema will undoubtedly find the film fits the bill perfectly. As an aside, given its impressive visuals and sound, Into the Storm will also make one hell of a demo disc on Blu-ray.
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