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Into the Storm

9 Aug

‘Into the Storm’: Mix ‘Sharknado’ budget with the big-screen aspirations of ‘Twister’

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“Into the Storm” is no “Twister,” not even a “Sharknado.” It’s not bad, mind you, but it’s not good, either. There are touches of camp and humor that add zest, though it never goes over the top like “Sharknado” – a good thing. What hampers “Storm” most are the insidiously stilted melodramas that occupy the screen between the two perfect storms that cut through an Oklahoma township on the last day of school.

080714 Into the Storm“Storm” is a humble effort with the budget of “Sharknado” and the big-screen aspirations of “Twister.” Even bolstered by a meaty budget, that 1996 film was no masterpiece, but it had masterful thespians Helen Hunt and Philip Seymour Hoffman in the cast, and flying cows. It also had well regarded cinematographer Jan de Bont (he shot “Die Hard” and “Basic Instinct”) taking the reins (his prior effort was “Speed”), which in a way ties us back to “Storm”: Director Steven Quale has toiled as second unit director on James Cameron projects. He might not quite have his hands around sculpting a full-bodied drama just yet, but the one thing he clearly does know are FX. The rendering of the massive twisters – one a flaming tornado – is vivid and viscerally done. As far as character and plot, that’s pretty much the eternal overcast sky while sitting in a steel-plated storm-chasing vehicle hoping for lightning and mayhem to strike.

The storm chaser in Quale’s effort is Pete (Max Walsh of “Veep”), who needs his money shot or his funding will be gone – and he’s got a whole crew and an armored gas guzzler to feed. Pete’s always late to the show, so he’s hired a Ph.D. meteorologist (Sarah Wayne Callies, from “The Walking Dead”) to make sure he’s the first one in and getting paid. Also going on in the Podunk town: Gary (Richard Armitage, Thorin in the “Hobbit” films) the high school’s vice principal, is having a bad single-parent day with his boys, Donnie (Max Deacon) and Trey (Nathan Kress), and graduation is scheduled. Then comes, as you can guess, the shock of tornados touching down.  Continue reading