Helen Hunt should have a big smile on her face. The most overwhelming thought that you will have after walking out of Into The Storm is “wow, Twister was a really great movie”. Even though that tornado flick came out in 1996, it spins circles around this new film that arrives 18 years later. The special effects have improved (but not by a large margin surprisingly), but the story is a complete disaster zone in this dreadful attempt.
The biggest problem for Into The Storm that it can’t figure out its cinematic style. A stormchasing team is documenting their tracking of tornados for a documentary, while in the parallel storyline, teenage kids are filming their final days at high school for a time capsule. So the film has a documentary-style of The Blair Witch Project, Chronicle, and Cloverfield with characters shooting themselves. The problem is that the film doesn’t stick to this format. It also does the typical invisible “fourth wall” camera for some shots, and it doesn’t keep track of when a character is shooting the action and when the “invisible” camera is. It’s headshakingly dumb how many times they screw up their own cinematic style.
At one point, the two teenage brothers (Jeremy Sumpter, Nathan Kress) are talking in the high school parking lot about how Jacob should go talk to his high school crush. After he leaves, his brother Trey turns to the camera and says something like “he’s actually gonna do it!”. Ummm…so there was a camera set up in the middle of the parking lot for that private conversation? No definitely not. It’s one of many instances where the film can’t keep track of its own format.
The script doesn’t help them either. Allison Stone (The Walking Dead’s Sarah Wayne Callies deserves better) is supposed to be a scientist who tracks tornados, but both times a tornado is imminent, she gets her info from The National Weather Center and then CNN. She has all these graphs and charts in front of her and its cable television that tells her a tornado is coming. You don’t exactly need to be a scientist to figure that out.
Or in this film, apparently you do. Because a high school graduation is staged outside on the field, despite tornado warnings all morning. Characters aren’t incredibly smart in the film, and that would be fun if this was Sharknado, but this flick is not. It takes itself pretty seriously and falls flat on its face. Its actors have done good work elsewhere. Richard Armitage is currently thrilling audiences in The Hobbit series as Thorin Oakenshield and Matt Walsh is making us laugh on Veep, but here they struggle to make it work. Helen Hunt, who we now know made it look easy, but apparently, creating a fully-developed character amongst flying debris is not so easy. There’s a reason she’s an Oscar winner.
The final action sequence in Into The Storm is thrilling and provides some mindless summer entertainment, but once the film’s 80 minute run-time is over, you’ll just think “I want to watch Twister again”.