‘Into the Storm’: Just a lot of hot air

If you ever sat around daydreaming and thought, “I wonder what a tornado looks like on fire?”, the movie you’ve been waiting for is here.

No, this is not a Syfy original TV-film, and there are neither sharks nor wicked witches in the waterspout. (Every review of “Into the Storm” is obligated to mention “Sharknado” and “The Wizard of Oz,” so we can now proceed.)

The scene in question takes place at a gas station. A truck spills its unleaded, downed power lines ignite the gas, and the tornado catches on fire. Which looks pretty cool, unless you’re the videographer sucked up into the flaming spout.

“Into the Storm” is full of scenes like this, and they are why people will see the movie. Sadly, the mayhem is periodically interrupted by scenes of people talking, although I use the terms “people” and “talking” loosely.

The setting is the Midwest, where a documentary crew chases the storm clouds: money-hungry director (Matt Walsh, from “Veep”), brainy meteorologist (Sarah Wayne Callies, a “Walking Dead” veteran), and their gofers.

Meanwhile, teenager Donnie (Max Deacon) is filming his high-school crush Kaitlyn (Alicia Debnam Carey) in an abandoned paper mill, where a sign outside reads, “Worst Possible Place to Be during a Tornado.” Or maybe I imagined that part. Donnie’s macho-voiced dad (Richard Armitage, Thorin in “The Hobbit”) runs around dodging lightning bolts looking for his kid.

Director Steven Quale, a special-effects guy, tries to keep up the found-footage approach (as though everything we see is being filmed by the various participants). But I’m pretty sure the wide shots we see of airplanes being lifted by winds or bird’s-eye views of buildings collapsing have no traceable source.

As bad as the non-action scenes are, the windstorms are incredible. Sheer humongous spectacle is one reason to go to the multiplex, and if you like digital sound and fury, “Into the Storm” does not disappoint. The whooshing of one character inside a tornado and up to the calm above the storm is a high point, in every sense.

The film scolds its video crew for exulting about the great footage even though people are dying in the storm. Needless to say, the movie is also pretty excited about these images, and doesn’t feel much guilt about it. When a movie makes you check your watch during the dialogue scenes, wondering when the next twister will hit, best not to look for the moral compass.

“Into the Storm” (1 1/2 stars)

Bad dialogue scenes alternate with incredible special-effects footage in this digital extravaganza. We follow some tornado-chasers as they barrel into a huge storm system in the Midwest; mayhem ensues.

Rating: PG-13 rating is for violence, language

More in Life

Secret garden: Privacy trees that won’t outgrow a small space

These plants offer some height to block out unwanted sights without taking over your yard.

‘Young Sheldon’ was born out of ‘The Big Bang Theory’

The hit TV show about Sheldon Cooper now has a spinoff series about him when he was a kid genius.

Home and Garden calendar for Snohomish County and beyond

Seattle Home Show 2: The fall version of the oldest and largest… Continue reading

Reminder: Historic Everett’s self-guided home tour is today

The featured home depicted in the tour poster painting by Everett artist Elizabeth Person.

Great Plant Pick: Panicum virgatum ‘Rotstrahlbusch’

This red-foliaged switch grass makes a good specimen but also creates a bold statement in a drift.

Plant these late bloomers to brighten up your shade garden

In this follow-up to a column on sunny borders, Steve Smith lists flowers to liven up a dark yard.

Do you know the joke about a set of special-order dishes?

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: A black-and-white design for colorful plates was sent to China…

Megyn Kelly hopes for a Trump-free zone with new daily show

She says her morning talk show, which debuts Monday on NBC, will not focus on politics.

Beer of the Week: 5 Rights Brewing’s Fresh hop imperial IPA

The Marysville brewery named its beer Wobbly the Laborer after the Industrial Workers of the World.

Most Read