And we’re back with more about seeing “Into the Storm!” Pardon me if I sort of dart around here, my mind is going in a lot of different directions–but I want to write this while it is fresh in my mind. I did not read any professional critics’ reviews, or really any reviews by fans/bloggers of this film before seeing it this afternoon. I wanted to make up my own mind for myself.
The cinematic experience starts off really well for us during our Sunday matinée (WARNING: SHAMELESS PLUG FOR FAMILY BUSINESS COMING UP) when the newest commercial for the local Chevy dealership created by Pecan Ridge Productions, shot and edited by Benny, appears on the screen–with the tagline voice-over done by yours truly. We hear someone behind us say, “Awww,” at the sight of those cute local kids playing ball and eating hot dogs. A win! 😉
Then comes the preview for THTBOFA. There’s Thorin, larger than life and looking very majestic and more than a little crazed. I give spouse the teeniest dig in the ribs. He grunts and gives me a small lop-sided smile. He’s humoring me. That’s OK.
Once the film starts and the video cameras appear on-screen, I see spouse’s antennae perking up. NOW we’re talkin’ . . . No one is sitting very close to us, so we can talk in low tones without being a nuisance.
Me: What kind of cameras are they using?
Him: (squints) Hmmmm, not sure. (suddenly grins like a kid at Christmas and wags his finger at the screen) But hey, that bracket holding the camera on the outside of the vehicle? It’s just like the one I got and put on the Jeep!
I think to myself, Well, he’s already enjoying it more than the Hobbit films. This is good.
[I take note that Richard as Gary looks very much the part of a single dad of teens and assistant principal at a small town high school in the Midwest. The close-cropped hair, wire-rimmed reading glasses, the conservative (and, apparently, cheap) suit and tie for the school’s graduation. That look in his eyes.
Gary has a lot on his mind. You feel as if this big, strapping man carries a burden on his shoulders just from the way he moves at times. A physically strong man, but, perhaps, a soul-weary one? School duties, the principal riding him, a lack of communication with his two sons . . . an ordinary (if very attractive) kind of guy living an ordinary life. And if he doesn’t sound exactly like Oklahoma or thereabouts, he sounds–generically American. Especially when I hear his voice and don’t see him. I think it’s a good start for a guy who doesn’t have a lot of experience doing American accents.]
Spouse Loves “Jack-Ass” Style Comedy Relief
When the group of good ol’ boys appears on-screen, videoing their own lame-brained drunken exploits, Benny chuckles. We know some folks like these guys–dumb as a box of rocks, but basically harmless and, you know, kind of likeable. You’re just glad you aren’t actually related to them . . . BTW, did anyone else notice the cameo by Todd Garner in that scene with the swimming pool?
Him: Yeah, these guys are OK. (He clearly hopes to see more of them and, of course, his wish is granted.)
Me: Next thing you know, they’ll be saying, “Hey y’all, look at this!!” Which usually ends badly . . . [talk about dumb luck. Donk and Reevis actually survive!]
And then the storm hits. Gary starts giving orders to the school kids and trying to maintain calm, all the while anxious to locate his own errant oldest son, Donnie (played with a shy, endearing awkwardness by Max Deacon. I predict we will see more of handsome, talented Max in future films and TV projects. I like Nathan Kress as Trey, too, but Max really managed to tug at my heartstrings).
Gary on the Way to Save the Day–Hooray!
Soon Gary jumps into the fray and keeps Allison (Sarah Wayne Callies) the pretty meteorologist, from blowing away as they hang on to the vehicle for dear life.
I must say from a purely prurient POV, I approve of soaking wet Gary in action (the thighs! the buns!) although I do not announce this to Benny. I do try to remind myself wet Gary smells like a sheep (according to Sarah).
And I can certainly see why Sarah said this wasn’t a “comfortable” film to make, too. An actor’s life definitely isn’t all red carpets and wrap parties.
Him: (smirks) It’s certainly a good thing this guy’s an SAS soldier.
[Porter is his favorite RA character. He’s seen Thorin, Heinz, Ian from “Ultimate Force” and some of “The Golden Hour.” So far, nobody beats out the sergeant.]
We both agree the visuals are pretty darned impressive. I’ve seen enough actual footage of tornadoes, not to mention my own experiences and the accounts of friends and family, to say it all looked frighteningly real–both the twisters themselves and the aftermath. And the noise, all that roaring, and the popping of the transformers blowing . . . yep, it worked for me. Kudos to the seven different special effects houses (we always sit through the credits) who worked to finish the film when the original SFX house went bankrupt.
NOT Quite Buying That . . .
What didn’t seem so believable?
Him: Really convenient they had this big airport with all these big planes next to this little town with like, eight people in the graduating class . . . it’s like McKenzie (a tiny town in southern end of county) being located next to the Atlanta Airport!
Me: Uh . . . maybe it’s a regional airport?
Him: (gives me a look that says, “Yeah-RIGHHHT.”)
Me: (shrugs) OK, so maybe not so realistic. What else bothered you?
Him: (drily) Oh, the way the storm was nice enough to pause and take breaks and like, knit a sweater and give them a chance to get all those kids on buses and out of harm’s way, and then to get the manhole cover open and get into the storm drain, and for the guy to get the storm vehicle and hold the grate in place . . . (grins) of course, if it had all happened in real-time, the movie would have been over in 15 minutes!
Me: (Nods) Yep, gotta take some dramatic license here and there. What did you think of Richard’s accent?
Him: Well–he didn’t really sound like Oklahoma to me–but I’ve heard a lot worse. Definitely.
Me: I thought the performances all around were good. I enjoyed it.
Him: I have to say–it was better than pretty much anything I’ve ever seen on the SyFy Channel (spouse is a devotee of said channel).
Me: I suspect it had a slightly higher budget than anything on SyFy.
Him: Better actors, too.
Me: We agree we didn’t miss it not being in 3D?
Him: Oh, yeah, we’ve seen–what? Five or six 3-D films now, big budget ones, and none of them have made us go, Wow, because of the effects? I think I must really be a 2-D kind of guy.
Me: (sighs) It was so–nice—to see Richard in a movie in which his character LIVES! He gets a happy ending for a change! And he’s a hero!
Him: Maybe they can make a sequel. He gets married to Allison and they become storm chasers. Or it’s 25 years in the future, the kids are storm chasers . . .
Me: And HE’S really old . . . and goes off and gets into trouble and the boys go to save him but he saves THEM.
Hey, it could happen.
So, I am not quite sure why this movie is getting such negative reviews. Is it perfect? No. Are there some clichés and stereotypes? Yes. Do I see it as “weather porn,” as one critic termed it? No, I don’t. Mother Nature can be one fierce creature, and she seems to be getting more and more so with each passing year. I am glad the film made reference to the numerous extreme meteorological events we’ve seen in recent years just in our own country alone, never mind the world. What exactly were critics expecting from this found footage disaster film–and why?
I very much like that this movie did not have a single superhero endowed with special powers. Although I also enjoy those types of films, I think we need to see “regular people” get their inner hero on, too.
Gary was the ordinary guy forced by extraordinary circumstances to step up and lead in a crisis, to not give up on his students or his sons. Call me a sentimental old sap–I will not argue the point with you–but it was so good to see post-storm Gary standing there smiling, his arms around those two boys. Rebuilding–houses or relationships–is never an easy task, but you feel as if the Morris family and their community have what it takes to make it happen.
And I have seen that happen in my own county, after natural disasters, neighbors helping neighbors, and also local citizens reaching out to refugees from Katrina and other storms, offering them shelter, food, clothing, even jobs and homes. There is still goodness in people.
So yes, we give Into the Storm two thumbs up–it’s entertaining, humorous and even touching in spots, and ultimately, really uplifting. The resilience of the human spirit shines . . . and yes, Serv, you were right. I walked out of that theatre into the sunshine–and smiled.