Sometimes it’s a dilemma: what DVD should you rent or what movie should you stream or order-on-demand? Do you want a date flick, an action caper, or a goofy comedy? Weekly Surge is here to help with our reviews of recent at-home movie releases, which we’ve watched from the comfort of that favorite recliner.
“Into the Storm”
What do you get when you mix the director of “Final Destination 5” (Steven Quale) with the writer of “Step Up All In” (John Swetnam) and throw in a dwarf from the “Hobbit” trilogy (Richard Armitage) and one of “The Walking Dead” (Sarah Wayne Callies)? Of course you get a movie about tornados. Most of the scenes are shot with first-person video or like a storm chaser show. How fortuitous that all the perfect plot points get accidentally caught on camera. For example, it’s graduation day, and there’s a perfect accumulation of storm cells on the way, and there’s family drama, and storm chasers have cool equipment, and amateur daredevils jump around like idiots, and there’s toxic waste at the old paper mill. Yes, the script is pretty silly. The acting is even sillier. The special effects are the real star of the movie, and you’ve seen most of those in the preview. It tries to up the ante with flaming tornados but it’s still a poor-man’s “Twister” – pass.
There have been too many films about the mythical Hercules lately. This one is of note because filmmakers actually based it on a graphic novel by Steve Moore, only Moore’s name was erased from the film so they didn’t have to pay him. Then Moore died, and allegedly, they used his name posthumously for publicity. Also of note is the director – Brett Ratner – this is the guy who tried to ruin buddy-cop flicks with the “Rush Hour” films and a superhero franchise with “X-Men: The Last Stand.” The whole thing feels dirty…as dirty as the yak testicle hair that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson glued on his face for a beard. (Yeah, he really did that.) Johnson does give this film his all, and the plot builds off Moore’s distinctive “Thracian Wars” storyline. But it falls into cartoonish and campy territory. Ratner tries to mix in blood and grit, but it’s not grounded and moves into predictable terrain too soon. There are some cool battle sequences, but you’ve seen this stuff before. The filmmakers looted the work of a dead artist and did absolutely nothing new with the loot – pass.
Here’s another film where it’s all about the special effects. Only here, effects are used to build tension and add atmosphere. It works for the most part. Spanish director/writer Gabe Ibáñez is obviously a huge fan of Ridley Scott and “Blade Runner.” In this futuristic sci-fi, an insurance agent, played by Antonio Banderas, investigates helpful robots that may have gone awry. It’s a moody affair, relying on gritty robotics and human performances. You’re asked to believe Dylan McDermott is a crooked cop – OK. You’re asked to believe Robert Forster is an asshole boss – OK. You’re asked to believe that Melanie Griffith is a genius robotics engineer – what? She’s not good, but she’s not a gamechanger either. Truth is Banderas carries every scene. It’s no “Blade Runner,” but for a movie very few people have heard of, it’s worth a watch.
Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge