Just back from watching Into the Storm. And hell, yes, it has all been said, but I am going to write this anyway, almost like a diary for myself.
Before I went, I had been wondering whether I should actually write the review before seeing it. Cos frankly – I didn’t expect much, and my mind was almost made up because I hadn’t held back on reading fan and expert reviews. As my son and I were taking our seat in the sparsely populated cinema on the Irish opening night, Master Guylty said to me: “Well, the good thing is, we don’t expect much. So it can only get better.” With the illustrations for my mentally-half-written review already in mind, I took some pictures of the embarrassingly empty cinema. Only to mince my
words photos ten minutes later: The cinema filled up to full capacity. Early evening show on opening night and ITS was sold out! That bodes well! Men to women ratio: about ten to one. All single ladies were obviously Armitage fans (easily identifiable by their demographic *ggg*).
Slightly appeased by the full cinema I settled back to endure a film of a genre that I am entirely uninterested in. I had anticipated to be more interested in my bag of popcorn than in the film. Well, wrong. ITS had me gripping the armrests for nearly all of its 89 minutes running time. I couldn’t get through my popcorn quickly enough in order to finally watch the film without distraction!
True, there are no main characters as such in the film, or if so then it is the whole ensemble with equally important story lines. The Fuller family unit, by virtue of outnumbering other “families” three to one, gets most screen time. And the little snap shot of their family life is predictably clichéd, but nonetheless entertaining and easy to identify with: Strict, slightly stiff father, serious, sensitive older son, carefree, easy-going younger teenage son. The roles are immediately assigned. In that family unit younger son Trey provides the comic relief in the family dynamics between overbearing dad Gary and defensive son Donnie.
Of course it’s clear from the beginning where this is leading and that they will live happily ever after. As will meteorologist Allison with daughter Gracie. “Somebody” had to be rightfully killed, and even he was clearly assigned the baddie role from the beginning, so Pete’s demise was expected. The sacrifice of whatsisname the camera guy however caught me by surprise. He had been set up as the innocent victim, I suppose, so I should have seen it coming from miles away, but his exit was one of the goose-pimple inducing highlights of the film (that sounds horribly wrong…). Most emotions, however, were elicited by the impressive storms. I pleasantly shuddered every time one of those hooks formed and descended towards the ground. The CGI of the tornadoes was fabulous, and together with the ear-deafening sound effects they looked absolutely awe-inspiringly frightening
to a Central European who has never seen a tornado in her whole life.
In case this sounds too Armitage-fan-has-left-brain-at-the-box-office: There are definite shortcomings to the film. There are far too many “coincidences” in the film that propel the action. The characterisation of the various players is not given enough time – they only remain pastiche throughout the film. Some things were factually wrong (like the continued use of un-protected camera equipment), and in total the whole plotline only seemed like an excuse to get some cool computer dudes to create some awesome computer graphics. And the found footage idea was good – I wish they had followed it completely – and if they had played the movie more like a real-time film, like 24, say, I think it would’ve been even more effective.
But ITS provides what it says on the tin – a light entertainment product. You are not going to leave the cinema with the weight of the world’s climate problem on your shoulders, and neither are you coming out pondering a society and system that alienates teenagers from grown-ups, or reaching for a banner to protest for better working opportunities for single mothers. They could have cut the all-American “let’s roll up our sleeves and make it better” call to action at the end (and especially the soppy attempt at making Pete a hero), but then again that’s how Hollywood films work, and we know how to deal with it.
I was entertained and enjoyed the film, goose-pimples and all. Not enough wet Armitage, of course, but yeah, I *am* an Armitage fangirl. Thumbs up for the American accent – sounded convincing enough for me. I also bought the daddy role, especially at the end when Gary is near-hysterical, trying to reanimate his son, and then overjoyed when he wakes up. I also really bought Sarah Wayne Callies’ character, and Max Deacon had the star scene with the recording of his tearful farewell. Well played!
Master Guylty gave ITS the thumbs up. Three and a half out of five stars, mainly for the CGI, and much approval for Armitage, surprisingly. “He’s really quite a good-looking dad”, was the sprog’s verdict. Hm, I wonder what that means…