Starring Matt Walsh and Jeremy Sumpter. Rated PG. Now playing
Given that its poster shows a gigantic tornado sucking up people, cars, and entire buildings in the fictional Oklahoma town of Silverton, it was not surprising that Into the Storm would feature a storm-chaser (played by Matt Walsh) who has waited his whole life to see a tornado from the inside, or that he would indeed receive his heart’s desire.
Everyone else in this picture is highly displeased, which makes more sense: when confronted with gigantic whirling cones of unpredictable, unstoppable force, sensible types tend to head the other way.
And everyone in Into the Storm is a type of some sort: aside from Walsh’s thorny veteran of the tornado-filming industry, you’ve got his adviser, who merely has book smarts (Sarah Wayne Callies); a family separated by the crisis consisting of a stern dad (Richard Armitage), cocky younger bro (Nathan Kress), and calflike older bro (Max Deacon) who is in love with a comely teen environmentalist (Alycia Debnam-Carey); and comic-relief yokels, eager to get their antics onto YouTube (Jon Reep and Kyle Davis).
The actors are fine in that they are able to utter purely functional dialogue like “Hold on!” and “My leg!” while running away from various disasters, but the real stars are the CGI and practical-effects artisans who provide seamless, convincing weather effects, and director Steve Quayle, who deploys them to maximize awe.
By turns tense, bleak, and oddly beautiful, Into the Storm ultimately delivers a riot of property damage that equals the levelling of Metropolis or Xandar in recent comic-book epics. Indeed, the spectacle might be more fearsome, in that the villain is nature, not an irritable superbeing in Lycra.
The result is a movie that is unexpectedly fresh and entertaining, assuming that you are not an Oklahoma realtor.