Into The Storm Leaves A Big Mess To Clean Up

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I’m pretty familiar with tornadoes. I grew up in West Texas. I went to college in the panhandle of Texas. The majority of my relatives live in Oklahoma, and I currently live just north of Dallas. As you can see, I’ve been in tornado alley just about my whole life. In fact, I was on the road when the Jarrell tornado hit with all its F-5 fury in 1997. My family and I were spared from a brush with that particular monster, but we did take cover in a BBQ Shack when another tornado formed on the road directly in front of us and then worked its way towards our location. For some reason, known only to God, this twister bounced over the shack we were hiding in and hit the mobile home park behind the restaurant.

As you might imagine, I have always had a healthy respect for these storms. In fact I’m on the waiting list to get a state of the art storm shelter built in my home.

I was intrigued with the previews of Into The Storm that I had seen. I entered the theatre today with a heart full of hope and my head held high! Unfortunately, I did not leave the theatre in the same way.

Into the Storm is a story about a group of storm trackers, thrill seekers and the people of a fictional town in Oklahoma as they are besieged by several tornadoes in one day.

It stars Richard Armitage as a high school asst. principal trying to find his son, played by Max Deacon, as well as Sarah Wayne Callies in the role of one of the intrepid storm chasers.

The film does a credible job of showing the randomness of the life of one of these killer storms. The paths of destruction and the way that something may be obliterated while something right next to it remains untouched rings true to documents cases.

It also does a good job of showing the types of equipment used by professional storm chasers. The Titus vehicle is inspired by types of vehicles designed for this activity.

The film falls short in inexplicable actions by various characters. The initial storm approaches during a high school graduation (being held outdoors, natch). Instead of heeding the warnings that are alluded to at the beginning of the story, they go on. Now, I could go along with that (because I’ve lived through a situation just like that!) However, It’s writing for the sake of sensationalism to think that the administrators of this school would not have their own lightening detectors, storm warning systems and communication with police and EMS services to make sure that their students are safe. School personnel will constantly monitor weather conditions in this type of situation so that they can make the best decisions possible regarding their students.

In fact, it seems like that there are no police, fire or EMS at all in this town. This town doesn’t even have school bus drivers. Luckily, the crime rate it so low that all the school buses are left unlocked with the keys in the ignition!

Of course there are some scenes where spines would be shattered, limbs would be broken, but our resilient heroes just bounce right up and keep on going. They aren’t really sure WHERE they are going. The geography of Silverton is as mysterious as the geography of Springfield in the Simpsons (and believe me, the geography of Oklahoma ain’t that hard to figure out!)

One of the running gags that most people might think of as the most ludicrous in the movie is actually one of the things that I thought was the most believable. There are two redneck drunk characters (named Donk and Reeviss), that spend their time drinking beer and filming Jackass types stunts to post on Youtube. Donk and Reevis see the storm chasers go by and are inspired to make their own videos showing them in the path of the storms. You would think they would be killed (or maybe you’re hoping), but as luck would have it, its a case of the drunks getting to survive because they were too drunk to be severely hurt.

The actors do what they can with the story they have to tell. Its just too bad that its not a more credible story.

Grade: C for weak writing

 

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Guardians of the Galaxy Delivers the Goods

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Guardians of The Galaxy is another hit out of the ballpark for Marvel Studios. It is on track to have close to a 100 million dollar opening weekend in the US. This is even more amazing when you consider that this particular version of the Guardians (Yes, there have been more than one) has not been the subject of any significant story lines for Marvel in years. It is essentially a group of C and D list characters that Marvel rolled the dice on and won big time.

The story centers around 5 characters that are brought together through a strange series of events (are there any other kind?) and places the fate of the galaxy on their shoulders.

Chris Pratt is a surprisingly perfect choice as Peter Quill (Star-Lord). His charisma and delivery of smart ass remarks is spot on and endearing.

Zoe Saldana does a great job with the role of Gamora. Gamora is the deadliest woman in the universe and her fight scenes show that she did the training to get it right. (In fact she injured Chris Pratt when filming their encounter.

Bradley Cooper voices the character of Rocket. Rocket is a raccoon looking creature that has a lot of pent up anger coupled with a love of guns and explosives.

Vin Diesel gives voice to the character of Groot. Groot is a walking sentient tree like creature. His verbal communication is achieved through the inflection of the way he delivers the words “I am Groot.” Vin does a great job with what might seem to be an blow off part. He carries it off with grace, humor and lots of emotion.

Dave Bautista is a pleasant surprise. The former WWF champion is fantastic as Drax the Destroyer. Drax is an individual whose only purpose in life is to kill those responsible for the death of his family; namely, Ronan the Accuser and Thanos the mad Titan.

This film provides another puzzle piece to the long range plans of Marvel Studios. It is the third film to feature one of the Infinity Stones as the McGuffin of the film. Since it also features Thanos in a supporting role, I’m betting that Avengers 3 will deal with the famous Infinity Gauntlet storyline. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t worry; you’ve got plenty of time to catch up.).

Director James Gunn has created a fully fleshed out universe with a great balance of drama, humor, sci fi action and suspense. There are lots of Easter Eggs in the film for the true Marvel Fan. (You get 1000 points if you know the backstory of Cosmo, the space dog and can point out the Celestial in the film).

As always, stay through the very end of the credits to get a tag ending. It will mean nothing to the casual observer but will be a pleasant surprise for Marvel Zombies.

Guardians of the Galaxy is a fun, summer film that serves as a terrific first chapter to a classic space opera trilogy.

Grade: A-

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