Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Into the Storm


I truly do believe that if a herd of rhinos came thundering down the street toward a herd of teenagers these days, most if not all of them would hold their cell phones held high, jostling each other to get the best shot. And I’m talking about the rhinos; I’m certain the teens would stand their ground and get run down.) This is how people are viewing the universe these days, through a smart screen, documenting much, much, much more of their predictable lives than they will ever have the chance to look at again. But what the hell? We have many terabytes of storage capacity. Save it all.

We are also rapidly approaching the point where there will be very few places on the planet that are not covered by either a fixed camera or a horde of people with cell phones. Far up the Amazon, maybe, or with the headhunters of New Guinea, though it would not surprise me at all to step off a boat in Antarctica and be surrounded by penguins snapping selfies. This movie is based on that premise, though it is not quite one of those increasingly tiresome “found footage” things. Everyone here has an excuse for all the filming they are doing.

There are three groups here. One is high school students who have been assigned the task of recording their classmates’ vapid thoughts for something that I guess will be a 21st century yearbook. They’re supposed to be addressing their older selves, twenty-five years hence.

Another is a team of storm-chasers who deliberately put themselves in the path of tornadoes so they can sell footage to the ravenous 24-hour news cycle. They have a big van full of TV screens, and a customized armored vehicle that has around thirty fixed cameras as well as half a dozen operated by people.

The third is Beavis and Butthead (names changed to protect the feeble-minded), part of that legion of literally millions of beer-chugging good ol’ boys who try to outdo each other attempting things that are way, way beyond idiotic and quite often fatal, just in the hope of getting a few hundred hits on YouTube. Check some of them out, sometime. Just look for “fails.” Your jaw will drop. Most of these guys should never be allowed within a mile of a skateboard, motorcycle, car, or even a match, for that matter. You can find hundreds of videos of morons setting themselves on fire.

So we have these three crews, and we have this approaching storm front in Tornado Alley, Oklahoma. Two fronts, in fact, something the meteorologist in the crew says is unprecedented. I’ll take her word for it. And what we get is a series of big, bad storms blowing through this medium-sized city, each one larger than the next, until we get to the Big Mutha, which would be a Force 6, if such a number existed on the Fujita-Pearson scale. Well, why not? The last decade has certainly been notable for extremes of weather.

I’ll have to class this as a guilty pleasure. It’s all predictable, with stock characters played by people you’ve never heard of. It’s not as dumb as Sharknado, but it’s not intellectual fare. But the special effects are spectacular, it all looks very real. It’s exciting. I’d recommend it for some night when you want to just kick back and watch a lot of skillfully done action scenes.