Thanks to the generosity of a friend and her guest movie pass I was able to attend the premiere of Into the Storm in New York on August 4.
Below are my thoughts about the film and maybe a little about the experience of being there on this particular day. I’m not a movie critic, so I’m not going to claim this is a review, I leave that to others. These are my random thoughts as someone who loves the movies and also loves Richard Armitage.
I also confess that in the past two years or so since this movie was filmed in Detroit, I have followed the cast, crew, creatives, and the producer on Twitter and I have great affection for all of them as well.
I also believe that you have to judge a film/movie in the context of its genre and what the director and writer hope to achieve. Comparing the script of a summer disaster thriller with Shakespeare is unfair to both the disaster flick and Shakespeare.
SPOILERS - enter at your own risk :)
The film opens on one of my favorite scenes in the film. The Morris, I mean the Fuller, men are getting ready to start their day on graduation day. It sets up the story of Gary and his two sons Trey and Donnie as the boys are filming themselves for this time capsule. Trey is the jokester, and Nathan Kress, who looks incredibly young here, is cute and funny. His older brother Donnie, played by Max Deacon, is the serious one and the video expert. Like most teenagers, they both have issues with their father, but more so since they are children of divorced parents, and the mother has died. Then we see father and Assistant Principal Gary at the kitchen table, with glasses! I love the way Richard looks with glasses, think both my friend and I looked at each other and “swooned” – LOL. This is a really cute scene, Gary is kind of grumpy like most of us grownups are in the morning. I thought from this brief opening scene that Trey must be more like his mother in personality, because Donnie is definitely like Gary. Think that’s why there’s so much friction between father and son. My favorite scenes in the movie are the so very brief ones sprinkled throughout between Gary and his sons.
There’s not a great deal of character development for any of the people/characters we will follow once the first tornado strikes. In many ways it’s a very sparse script. After we’re introduced to the Morris, I mean Fuller, family there are other short scenes introducing us to the other two groups we’ll follow (Sarah Wayne Callies, Matt Walsh, Arlen Escarpeta, Jeremy Sumpter ) the professional tornado hunters, and the two crazy guys who are the comic relief (Kyle Davis, Jon Reep).
This is a movie where Mother Nature’s wrath is the star. The special effects, including trees coming through windows, endless rain, relentless winds, and mass destruction and tornadoes are the stars.
From the moment the first disaster hits Silverton High School my hand was literally at my throat and it stayed there. The action and intensity and the sound, oh the sound, are overpowering. I very much agree that this movie has to be seen in a movie theater, because I can’t imagine being this engaged watching this movie in my living room on a small screen. I felt the wrath of Mother Nature was coming to get me and everyone else in that theater.
This is not an actor’s film I would say, they’re there mostly to react to the forces of nature, and all the water and debris being pelted at them from all sides. Max Deacon’s character, Donnie, has the most consistent dialog, and the only character that really stays still long enough to have a story arc. He’s the one that we really see and are given time and the dialog to feel a transformation in his character. Max gives a very good performance.
Some of the humor from the reckless pair of tornado hunters didn’t always work for me, not my type of humor, but the audience around me loved it!
There are a few moments, milliseconds, between Gary and Allison when we could, using our imagination, believe there is a romance brewing between the two single parents, but ultimately there is no romance.
If the intention was a romance between the two teenagers (Max Deacon, Alycia Debnam Carey) that also seemed to be lost at the end.
Once the first tornado hits, for the adults and Trey its non-stop action and a few moments of terror. They run, they change vehicles, and they are pelted by water, water, and more water.
I’ve avoided reading most review because I knew I would see the movie anyway and could make up my own mind about it. But if you’re on Twitter, there’s no way to avoid comments about them. I think one of the mysterious things about filmmaking is casting the right actors for the right roles. I can see why they cast Richard as the handsome “everyman” action hero, but really they don’t give him much to do or much meaningful to say. I can see if their image of him was the Hobbit hero “Action Thorin”, or even John Porter why they cast him. But the best “action” characters Richard Armitage has played are those with “an outer core, different from the inner core” to paraphrase one of his own interviews. Into the Storm is not the type of movie that would take time to develop a character’s “inner core”, or give an actor time to do so. In the classic movie days this would be a role for John Wayne more than Gregory Peck!
There is one scene with Gary and his boss that is filmed in such a way I would have missed if not an Armitage fan. It does set up Gary’s character a bit more, and makes what happens with the school buses make more sense. But I’m sure most people in the audience missed it completely.
As fans we have to remember too that he filmed this before The Hobbit was released and before The Crucible was the “toast of London.” An actor has to work, and in a long career an actor will play many parts, not always ones that suit him best.
Richard Armitage does his action scenes very well, and I have to admire the man for one scene in particular. If I’m ever in an extreme weather situation I want Gary Morris/Fuller by my side.
In conclusion I would recommend the film if you’re looking for a summer movie that will entertain and scare you and maybe give you a laugh or two. Mother Nature is the star- special effects rule. I felt the excitement and maybe understood a bit why so many people love these type of weather action films. I plan to see it again, maybe without my hand at my throat this time.
Some thoughts on being in the audience at Premiere Night:
All the cast (or at least the main cast) were in the theater with us, except for Richard Armitage who left early. (Performance of The Crucible in London on Tuesday – how does the man do it!) I saw both Nathan Kress and Jeremy Sumpter come in to the theater. The director, Steve Quale, was a few rows behind us talking and looking very happy, and producer Todd Garner was towards the back.
Sitting there watching the film with them I couldn’t help but wonder about their thoughts and feelings whenever the audience clapped (and they did), laughed (and they did), or reacted emotionally to the sounds and the images of destruction on the screen.
It was a good, though tiring day and night. Had a lovely visit with a NY friend, and a good time with fellow movie maniacs in line. I also met a couple of fellow RA fans, which was a bonus. A good trip.
Yes, I’m a bit sad that I didn’t see Richard for the third time in person. He would have been the extra delectable chocolate sauce on an ice cream sundae of a day.