Action Blu-ray Review

Eye of the Blu-Ray Review: Into the Storm

November 23, 2014Ben Mk


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Nothing but grey skies...

As moviegoers, we have a long-standing fascination with disaster epics. They're guilty pleasures, and we can't seem to get enough of them. Enter director Steven Quale's meteorological action-thriller Into the Storm, a movie which can best be described as Twister meets The Blair Witch Project. In it, a group of storm chasers tracking a monstrous weather phenomenon that has targeted Northern Oklahoma find themselves caught in its deadly and destructive path — all while cameras roll, capturing every moment of their harrowing ordeal on film.

   

The Film The found footage format is an attempt on the part of Quale and writer John Swetnam to put viewers in the middle of the action, thereby putting a new spin on a genre that reached its saturation point in the late nineties, when movies like Armageddon, Independence Day and, of course, Twister ruled the Summer box office.

The storm chasers are led by documentary filmmaker Pete Moore (Matt Walsh), who, along with his camera operators Lucas Guerrette (Lee Whittaker) and Jacob Hodges (Jeremy Sumpter), has been traveling from Idaho to Texas in a state-of-the-art vehicle nicknamed the Titus, which is equipped with four-millimeter-thick armor, bulletproof windows, a plethora of cameras, a five-ton winch and grappling claws that can secure the vehicle amidst 170-mile-an-hour winds. However, none of them have the faintest inkling of how to forecast weather patterns, which is why they're accompanied by meteorologist Allison Stone (The Walking Dead's Sarah Wayne Callies) and her camera operator, Daryl Kerley (Arlen Escarpeta).

Anticipating that a massive (and particularly nasty) storm is about to pummel an area 200 miles North of them, Allison steers the Titus team toward the town of Silverton, where we meet 17-year-old Donnie Fuller (Max Deacon), his brother, Trey (Nathan Kress), and his dad, Gary (The Hobbit's Richard Armitage), who also happens to be the principal of the high school both Donnie and Trey attend.

The film doesn't waste much time on the set-up, giving us barely enough backstory for these characters to keep us invested in their fates. Rather, it seems more concerned with striving to provide plausible explanations for why most of them (including Donnie, Trey and a couple of ancillary characters) would be armed with cameras to capture the storm as it bears down on Silverton.

When the skies turn grey and Mother Nature starts wreaking havoc, characterizations are mostly tossed aside and the movie becomes all about the spectacle of destruction, with scenes depicting such things as a fiery tornado and airplanes being tossed in the air like toys becoming commonplace. Of course, the action set-pieces are strung together by a threadbare plot (which has to do with the Titus team becoming involved with evacuation efforts in Silverton, while at the same time trying to get that perfect shot for their documentary). But let's face it, this isn't the type of film you go to for the story. As far as thrills go, however, Into the Storm delivers on the promise of its title.

Audio/Visual Fidelity Into the Storm whips up a frenzy on Blu-ray with an A/V presentation that's far from disastrous. Despite the gimmick of being shot from the perspective of its characters, via everything from high-end digital cameras to cell phones, the hi-def transfer is nearly consistently impressive. There are a handful of GoPro and surveillance camera-style shots thrown into the mix, but otherwise the image is clear and sharp, revealing even the smallest piece of debris, with respectable black levels and good shadow detail. And even though cinematographer Brian Pearson's color palette is, for the most part, grey and overcast, green grass and fiery orange flames remain vibrant. Audio-wise, the disc's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is wholly enveloping, immersing viewers in environmental effects such as driving rain, gale force winds, thunder and lightning, with ample LFE support to make the destruction feel like it's taking place right in your living room.

Special Features Warner's Blu-ray release includes DVD and UltraViolet digital copies of the film, as well as 25 minutes of HD bonus features. The 11-minute Into the Storm: Tornado Files is a look at the lives of real-life storm chasers, the different types of tornadoes and the CG visual effects used to bring them to life; Titus: The Ultimate Storm Chasing Vehicle is an 8-minute piece about the creation of the Titus vehicle and how it compares to the real-life storm chasing vehicle, the Dominator 3; and Fake Storms: Real Conditions is a 6-minute behind-the-scenes look at how the film's in-camera visual effects were achieved.


The Bottom Line True to its title, Into the Storm brings compelling, weather-related mayhem to the silver screen. It's just too bad the same can't be said of its characters. Still, if you're in the mood for a popcorn disaster movie, it's a decent way to while away an hour and a half. As for Warner's Blu-ray release, it boasts fantastic audio and video, plus a few brief special features that rank a hair above your average EPK material. Consider it a guilty pleasure.  Ben Mk

Disc Breakdown
The Film  —  
Audio/Visual Fidelity  —  
Special Features  —  








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