Director: Steven Quale
Cast: Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Matt Walsh, Alycia Debnam-Caries, Max Deacon
What's it about: Tornado-chasers rush into a small town called Silverton for what will help them hit pay dirt, while two village-idiot thrillseekers are in it for YouTube glory. Meanwhile the people of the town scramble for cover and dear lives. Yep. That's it.
What's hot: The film is a visual spectacle. Cinematographer Brian Pearson and director Steven Quale along with their visual effects team deserve full marks for taking you from yawns to entertainment in minutes. There's never a letup (and this gets more pronounced in the second half) and you're constantly bombarded with one tornado after another. That's what keeps your interest going. Composer Brian Tyler's work here is brief and you almost miss it if you're still distracted by all that sound and fury, but the blockbuster music director makes the best of it.
What's not: Remember Twister? That Bill Paxton-Helen Hunt film from the 90s? You keep thinking, why do I like that film better, even after all these years? While Quale is no Jan De Bont (Twister director), he knows his art. However, he's let down by the writing (John Swetnam, who's also a co-producer). The plot is wafer-thin (why are we never told why Silverton is facing the wrath of Mother Nature/God). The subplots are too disjointed. The characters are too weakly etched. And it is a reflection of our times (in films and of screenwriters thereof) that the female characters are waiting to be saved. Rewind a few years and you will know why those films worked. Sigourney Weaver, Jodie Foster, Sandra Bullock... were all women who needed no saving. The Hobbit star Richard Armitage as Gary, the vice principal of the town's school is a far cry from Thorin Oakenshield. The Walking Dead's Sarah Wayne Callies makes this role seem tame yet it feels the same. The single mother trying to make it on her own, making mistakes, making excuses, you know the drill. I won't even bother with talking about the rest of the cast.
What to do: Wanna watch it anyway? Just don't miss the second half. That's when the tornadoes start wrecking stuff. Like really big stuff. You wouldn't wanna miss that, would you?