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Into The Storm

By DAN LYBARGER Special to the Democrat-Gazette

This article was published August 8, 2014 at 2:09 a.m.


UTP-FP-0022rc Film Name: INTO THE STORM Copyright: 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. - - U.S., Canada, Bahamas & Bermuda and 2014 Village Roadshow Films (BVI) Limited - - All Other Territories. All Rights Reserved. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures Caption: SARAH WAYNE CALLIES as Allison in New Line Cinemas and Village Roadshow Pictures thriller INTO THE STORM, a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Into the Storm

75 Cast: Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Matt Walsh, Max Deacon, Nathan Kress, Alycia Debnam Carey, Arlen Escarpeta, Jeremy Sumpter, Lee Whittaker, Kyle Davis, Jon Reep, Scott Lawrence

Director: Steven Quale

Rating: PG-13, for sequences of intense destruction and peril, and language, including some sexual references

Running time: 89 minutes

While Into the Storm deals with tornadoes that flatten whole towns in seconds, it generates all the excitement of a mild breeze.

Director Steven Quale is a protege of James Cameron, but despite an impressive resume as a second unit and assistant director on Avatar and Titanic, Quale creates funnels that look as if they blew in from an X-Box game. On the big screen, the pixilation is even more obvious.

Computer generated images allow filmmakers to create scenes of mass destruction without getting anyone on set killed, but these sequences can become unconvincingly grandiose because there's just about nothing a person with a high definition monitor can't create. Subconsciously, there's a sense that the destruction onscreen isn't quite as subject to the laws of physics as the genuine article.

Yes, the real storms can be powerful, but one wishes that screenwriter John Swetnam (Step Up All In) could have come up with images that are as imaginative as the flying cows in Twister. Quale fills the soundtrack with quickly forgotten pop tunes and a persistently loud roar that obscures some of the dialogue.

Maybe that's a plus.

Technical glitches can be forgiven if the story and the characters are gripping enough to make viewers forget about the grainy-looking storms. Into the Storm comes up short here, too.

There are three or four parallel storylines going on, none of which is as fun as watching funnel clouds ripping up buildings. It's set on graduation day at an Oklahoma high school where the principal (Scott Lawrence) decides to go ahead with an outdoor commencement despite the warnings of inclement weather.

He's not the only brain donor in the neighborhood. One gets a sense that maybe some of the less active minds in the area are thankfully eliminating themselves from the gene pool. Even the scientists in Into the Storm don't seem very clever.

The school's vice principal Gary (Richard Armitage, The Hobbit) has more sense, but he's understandably worried because his older son Donnie (Max Deacon) has bailed on shooting video of the commencement to make a short film of a classmate (Alycia Debnam Carey) of his in an abandoned factory.

A pair of YouTube daredevils (Kyle Davis and Jon Reep) decide that chasing the storm is a great idea even though they don't have the proper equipment or experience to do so. At least, they have the excuse of being drunk.

A frustrated filmmaker named Pete (Matt Walsh) has a state-of-the-art storm chasing vehicle called the Titus. Unfortunately, he's about to lose his funding because Oklahoma has experienced an unusually mild storm season. This causes him to lash out at his meteorologist (Sarah Wayne Callies, The Walking Dead) for not pinpointing enough spectacular weather.

It's not a spoiler to say Pete soon gets what he wishes.

With these folks practically begging for blustery death, it's hard to get worked up over their potential demise. It doesn't help that there are long stretches of dialogue that could be simplified if the closed captioning for the hearing impaired simply read "exposition" instead of what the actors are actually reciting.

Callies is the one performer who seems familiar, and that's a problem because it's more fun to watch her running from zombies than it is to see her chasing twisters. She and the rest of the cast are stuck with one-note roles, so nobody seems terribly believable.

The only real torrent generated by Into the Storm is a tidal wave of narcolepsy.

MovieStyle on 08/08/2014

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