By Kate ‘One Take Kate’ Taylor
|Image via: Mr Leon Taylor|
Batten down the hatches, stock up on consumables! Into the Storm is here in the form of a huge blockbuster, employing the tricks used in films as far back as The Blair Witch Project and more recently with excellent effect in Chronicle; the aesthetic of hand-held found footage works well for a majority of the time, especially during moments where we need it to help us get on-board with the characters who, like most blockbuster characters – come off a little one dimensional in parts. Into the Storm is a disaster film of the ilk of The Towering Inferno or The Poseidon Adventure from the 70s and more recently 2012 or World War Z…you know exactly what you’re in for…big thrills, effects and damage; and hopefully there’s some eye candy in among all the chaos. A refreshing change from it’s big disaster flick predecessors though, Into the Storm takes place in the imagined perfect lil’ American town of Silverton, just to really drive home the ‘heartland’ factor.
There’s the misunderstood heart-of-gold single Dad (Richard Armitage) who relaxes his hold on his expectations of his kids…and it only took a massive weather event to make that happen. Realizing that he’s raised his boys well and that they can actually teach him a thing or two, if he’s willing to listen. I wasn’t sure why this single Dad was so damned…cooool. Then that’s when I realised he is Thorin Oakshield. Aww. That explains it. There’s the Badass single Mom (with a heart-of-gold) who is doing a super job of raising her daughter and pursuing her career as a meteorologist. Pete the general dickwad and leader of the professional storm chasers who is hiding a heart-of-gold and the silent desire to be a good guy via recognition for his footage and research on storm systems. The teens, are great representations of upstanding young citizens all at an important and turbulent time in their lives – senior year graduation. The majority of the ‘found footage’ comes from the kids capturing their thoughts and graduation moments by filming time capsule video entries as part of their final assessments. Donk and Reevis the rednecks, who are overblown caricatures more than anything else…are huge fun! Their efforts to get a video on YouTube with a million hits certainly brings humour and fun to the whole piece; yet I can’t help thinking that these two lovable losers are a mirror to the audience, magnifying current society’s love of technology, documentation of self and the bid for fame…for not doing much. Plus Donk looks SO much like NZ’s own Matt Heath (Back of the Y, Hauraki) that it does sort of take you out of the film a little! Huge set pieces, loads of stunt work, incredible CG visual effects, big big foley work (that’s the sound-scape of the storm that whips around you). Lucky for me I viewed this at Hoyts Cinemas Wairau Park who have a banging surround sound system, so I could feel every tornado rumble in the pit of my guts, which made the intensity of this film more effective!
Academic Area: Themes – don’t be fooled by the big flashy effects or characters scant of deep motivations! Blockbusters are traditionally a place where societies concerns can be lightly placed underneath the general action; Into the Storm has themes of Single Parenthood, Gender Equality as shown between constantly bickering Pete and Allison and serious concerns about climate change. It might sound lofty to identify these issues from just a good time blockbuster storm movie, but they are there if you can look a little critically as you view them; and bottom line is themes within blockbusters give the characters something human we the audience can relate to.