There is a school of thought that all stories can be categorized into one of three conflicts: Man against Man, Man against Society, and Video Bloggers against Tornado. Into the Storm fits solidly into that last category.
Hot widower Richard Armitage is the vice principal of a middle American high school for symmetrically featured 20-year-olds, and father of two bland but likeable sons (Max Deacon, Nathan Kress), who he's tasked with a vaguely defined civic project that requires them to carry Handycams at all times. Meanwhile, a bland but likeable tornado-chasing team with a super cool tornado-chasing tank hasn't chased a single tornado in exactly a year. (Spoiler alert: Things are looking up on the tornado front.)
The plot has the qualities of a story you'd make up in a tornado-less high school to pass the time, which isn't a criticism. There's a lot of "Wouldn't it be crazy if..." and "Oh man, and then we have to..." escapism, and it keeps things moving at a jaunty pace. Frequently tense but mostly bloodless, Into the Storm is the kind of disaster movie you can take any member of your family to, so long as they don't have a phobia of extreme weather patterns.
Now, you're probably wondering how many tornadoes are in this movie—and friend, I am here to tell you that there are quite a few, some of them on fire! Into the Storm's weather effects are absolutely gorgeous in the way that only dangerous things viewed from the safety of a theater seat can be; the funnels bluster and undulate hypnotically while pursuing our white-bread protagonists with the tenacity of the shark from Jaws. It's to the film's credit that it routinely forgets to be a found-footage production, with great cinematography trumping any slavishness to conceit.
Into the Storm
dir. Steven Quale
Opens Fri. Aug., 8