I’ve had the most difficult time organizing a post after seeing Into the Storm. I have a great deal to say about the movie, but an actual film review at this stage, to these readers, seems unnecessary and redundant. I’m one of the last to write about it, especially among Richard Armitage fans and bloggers. Thus, I’m going to tackle it in parts and jump right in, assuming familiarity with the film, as well as with some of the comments made by the cast and crew during promotional interviews. And I have some good things to say.
Despite a few completely favorable articles, by and large, the reviews, posts and tweets were not good. Most of those who were positive,are fans of the cast. When it was recommended at all, it was for the special effects – a thrill ride. The acting was pretty much ignored – so no one got panned. The resounding impression was that the plot was non-existent, the characters predictable and trite, the dialogue was dumb and the use of the filming technique that I’m reluctant to call found-footage – was unintelligible. inconsistent, incredible. It hindered, rather than helped, the film.
Did any of that influence my opinion of the movie? No. I’m quite capable of determining for myself that a film is poorly written or whether I got confused about the camera angles. And that’s basically my overall opinion. I think this was film for teen-agers and special effects buffs.
Proponents of the film claim that they got what they expected – not much plot or meaningful dialogue, good action, some thrills and, in some cases, a little character development and arcs. Just what you’d expect from a summer blockbuster, disaster movie.
All of this begs the question, wouldn’t it have been as easy to write a good script as a bad one? I’m thinking, maybe there was a better script at some point.
I might say that the positive (none of them is glowing) opinions of some bloggers and Richard Armitage fans is APM of a sort, but some of these writers are definitely not protectionists. So how to explain tortured renditions of dad Gary Morris’s metamorphosis from a downtrodden distracted everyday Joe to a hero and caring loving father who finally understands his sons – when there’s really nothing in the movie to substantiate that? Or the discussions of wise-ass Trey, the younger son, who Dad thinks is a screw-up, but in fact, proves himself to Dad and others to be bright and resourceful, when again, there’s next to nothing in the film to support this?
The answer may lie in the extraordinary job the cast and crew did in promoting this film in video and print interviews and appearances, through which they described a film we didn’t see, maybe because it wound up on the editing room floor. Did the descriptions by Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Steven Quale and others find their way into fans’ subconscious such that they actually read these plot points into the film when they weren’t there? Changes and edits were definitely made late enough so that the actors didn’t even know their character’s names.
How thin was this plot? This plot was so thin that if it swallowed an olive pit and stood sideways, it would look pregnant.
Case in point – Gary Morris/Fuller. I recall some discussions by Richard Armitage, later discussed on blogs, that the Gary Morris character started out as an English teacher, but then was changed to an Assistant or Deputy Principal, and later, they decided to give him some sports background, so he was also the football coach, to sort of explain his strength and athleticism in the film.
This never made it into the film. Deputy Principal, that’s all we get.
In at least one interview, if not more, Richard Armitage, and I think Max Deacon, state that after the divorce, the family was divided and one of the boys lived with the mother before her death. Presumably, that division caused some of the conflict between Gary and his son, Donnie. I’m guessing.
Yet in the film, we learn that the mother left the family, and the boys stayed with her on some weekends; typical in a family of divorce, but not so typical that the Mom left the house instead of the Dad. Had this plot point been actually in the film, it might have given some meat to the hinted at conflict between Donnie and Gary. As it was, we have only one small, argument between father and whiny son, and one sentence by Gary that “after his mother died, I almost lost him,” referring to Donnie – with no explanation. And honestly, if you really look at the first scene at the Morris home, isn’t Donnie also self- absorbed and dense, not realizing that his father has a lot on his mind on such a day, especially in light of the weather they all know about?
It’s no different with Trey, the younger son, who, we were told before hand was a screw-up who proves himself to his Dad. But in the movie, the only fact to make us think Trey was a screw-up, were his words to his Dad as he was getting ready to film the graduation. In words or substance he said, ” You think I’m a screw-up.” Once trouble came, Trey immediately and repeatedly proved himself, and he and his father seemed to work well together, with Gary taking Trey’s advice early on. Had there been maybe five more lines of dialogue, it might have made a difference. As it was, knowledgeable viewers, who watch 30 interviews, just read it into the plot.
I’m not going to say much about the bit with the knife that James Cameron is supposed to have weighed in on. Trey reveals the knife out of the blue when his father needs it to help a neighbor, and says, ” I know. I’m not supposed to have it,” and there is nothing more. It may be that this was a bit Richard Armitage thought Nathan Kress could speak well about during their interviews, and so it was really talked up – but it turned out to be very small. I think that could have been a good moment – but what the heck, we injected it into the film anyway.
With respect to Alison, I think some lines also must have been taken out. Her mother consoles Alison when she is sad that she’s been away from her daughter for so long, and says something like, ” You’re doing important work.” Alison is a paid hack giving weather reports to a documentary film-maker – not some research institute. There must have been something else in the original script that better explains the mother’s lines. Maybe it would have made a difference.
All and all, I think the millions that were spent on promotion and advertising was worth every penny. The promotion was far more entertaining than the film, and the repeated interviews, articles, TV and radio ads did their work – they got people into the theater and they got an AU Into the Storm based on those interviews.
Next Up: Into the Storm: Richard Armitage is Best When He Doesn’t Speak.