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January 18 2015
Into The Storm Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
4/9/201431/12/2014Village RoadshowSteven Quale
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD MA 5.1MA15+Nathan Phillips

THE MOVIE
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Sarah Wayne Callies in Into The Storm.

Ever since my teens I've been a sucker for big-budget Hollywood disaster films with Twister remaining one of my favourites to this very day. Still, having watched that film recently, despite the solid story and acting, the visual effects are starting to look a little dated to what is currently expected. When I saw the first trailer for Into The Storm last year the film immediately jumped near the top of my list of films to see. So what's it about?

In the span of just a few hours, the city of Silverton is ravaged by an unprecedented onslaught of the most furious twisters they’ve ever seen. The entire town is at the mercy of the erratic and deadly cyclones, even as storm trackers predict the worst is yet to come. Most people seek shelter, while others run toward the vortex, testing how far a storm chaser will go for that once-in-a-lifetime shot.

Into The Storm is primarily told through the lens of the films' characters who include a couple of high school teenagers who film their events, and storm chasers who have cameras everywhere. Typically "found footage" films annoy me, perhaps due to excessive shaky-cam footage or obscured events, but in this case it makes sense. Real-life storm chasers have many cameras to capture all the events, and it gives a level of excitement and tension to this film too.

It's fair to say that the visual effects are a highlight of the film with the destruction simply jaw dropping and far surpassing that in the previous benchmark tornado film, Twister which, let's face it, was one of the first CG heavy disaster films, and still a remarkable achievement. This isn't just a film about a bit swirly bit of wind and rain, but it's the destruction of buildings that looks stunning.

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Tornados are one of mother natures most destructive weather events.
Where this film falls flat is the pretty generic storyline which has been done, and done better, before. Even the aforementioned Twister had a better plot then this, albeit very similar, however with Into The Storm having a runtime of only 89 minutes there is little time to invest in character development or a detailed plotline. It was also a little disappointing that the filmmakers missed an opportunity to truly demonstrate the devastation and loss that can be caused by these disasters - the last scene just makes it too light hearted.

While the majority of the cast, in particular the younger high school kids, are mostly unknowns there are a couple of actors that carry the film pretty well. Richard Armitage (who most wouldn't recognise due to prosthetics and makeup, played Thorin Oakenshield in Peter Jackson's recent trilogy of The Hobbit) is decent as the Vice Principal of Silverton High School, while Sarah Wayne Callies (most well known as the doctor Sara from Prison Break and Lori in The Walking Dead) plays the meteorologist Allison.

Both of these actors are fine in their leading roles in the film and while the rest of the cast rarely stand out they never have a great script or dialogue to work with anyway and, in fact, the film would be better off without some of the characters - we're looking at the drunk Jackass styled idiots Reevis and Donk who serve little purpose besides a few light-hearted, eye-rolling, moments.

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Reevis and Donk are annoying, and unnecessary.
Unlikely to be remembered years down the road Into The Storm remains an entertaining film worth checking out.

VIDEO
Into The Storm is presented on Blu-Ray in a screen-filling 1.78:1 aspect ratio and encoded with the standard AVC MPEG-4 codec and slightly altered from the theatrical 1.85:1 presentation. We're not sure if the image has been cropped on the sides, or the image opened up on the top and bottom slightly, but most are unlikely to notice. Colours are natural and the 1920 x 1080p resolution allows the wonderful visual effects to shine.

We did notice what we think may be an encoding error - or perhaps a faulty disc, or perhaps a very odd editing choice. At the 37:07 mark some people are removing an old man from a car, however the video skips from him strapped in the car to being carried when outside. It's only a few frames, but perhaps deliberate, as the timestamp seems continual, but is jarring.

AUDIO
Into The Storm is presented on Blu-Ray with a cracking DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (24-bit/48Khz) soundtrack which sounds absolutely spectacular. Even the opening scenes with approaching tornado will have your room shaking with the crack of thunder, the howling winds and glass and items smashing. This stellar audio presentation continues throughout the film. Somewhat amusingly as we were watching this film there was an actual storm outside and it was impossible to tell the real thunder from that in the film. It is that remarkably clear.

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The Fire Tornado is simply spectacular.
The only other audio track on this disc is an English Audio Description Narration track which is encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448kbps. Given the wonderful, room filling surround sound in this film it's nice to see the release get the surround channels on the Descriptive track when so many are simply stereo sound.

The Into The Storm Blu-Ray also only contains a single subtitle track - English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing which will get the job done if you need subtitles.

EXTRAS
Upon starting up Into The Storm on Blu-Ray several trailers will play including The Judge (2:28), A Most Wanted Man (2:21) and Begin Again (1:35). There are only a couple of real "extras" on this disc which include...

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Into The Storm has plenty of destruction!
Into The Storm: Tornado Files (10:48/HD): This featurette looks at the different types of tornado including the spectacular Fire Tornado.

Titus: The Ultimate Storm Chasing Vehicle (8:23/HD): Also interesting is this featurette which focuses on real-life vehicles used to chase tornados across America, but also the Titus vehicle as seen in this film.

Fake Storms: Real Conditions (5:37/HD): The least impressive of the three featurettes on the Blu-Ray and sees the actors discussing working on a windy, rain-soaked set.

OVERALL
While it's not a great film by any stretch of the imagination Into The Storm was fairly entertaining couple of hours (well, 90 minutes anyway) with some spectacular visual effects and some fun action sequences.

Review By: Dave Warner

THE MOVIE
7/10
THE VIDEO
9/10
THE AUDIO
9/10
THE EXTRAS
3/10
OVERALL
7/10

Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Village Roadshow. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.