Exactly what it looks like. So it’s the storm of the century in Oklahoma, and this focuses on some storm chasers, a single father, his sons, a couple of rednecks and some camera men dealing with it. Even just from a brief plot description, you may be able to deduce a big problem with this movie: there are too many damn characters. This may have worked better with less people, but as is, it gets really diluted, really quick. As you can probably imagine, these aren’t deep, well-written characters, and you do not care about a single one of them. Besides, the only reason why you’re here is to watch tornadoes tear stuff up, right? So why spend the first thirty minutes introducing shallow characters with their own, thinly-written individual subplots that have very little going for them? I’m surprised they didn’t get Roland Emmerich to direct this; say what you want about the quality of his movies overall, but the man knows how to handle spectacle.
Now I like the idea of a found footage disaster movie, as I don’t think that’s been done before unless you count the Cloverfield monster as an allegorical disaster. I do typically go for found footage movies, but for it to work, you cannot cheat, and you have to keep it P.O.V. 100% of the time. It is part of the reason why the Last Exorcism falls apart at the very end, and it can taint a film. This cheats all the time, and it is constantly taking you out of the moment, because it forces you to see the seams. And if you’ve ever had a problem with people not putting down the camera in found footage movies when they are in the face of danger, this movie is going to make you lose your mind. With the storm chasers, sure, it makes sense for them to want to get footage, as it’s their career, but everybody else is just as determined to keep filming, and logically, it doesn’t add up.
All criticism aside, I will say that this is surprisingly watchable. When it is just being a dumb disaster movie, I was able to turn my brain off and enjoy it at face value; I mean, what kind of guy would I be if I wasn’t able to enjoy a fire tornado? The acting ranges from awkward to mediocre (is Sarah Wayne Callies capable of playing any character other than an uptight, frigid subpar mother?), but you’re not watching it for that. This is watchable, albeit stupid, and not something that you’re going to retain.
Into the Storm (2014) **1/2
– Critic for Hire