Image copyright: Warner Brothers.
There is something irresistibly dramatic about storms. That makes them excellent source material for a Hollywood blockbuster. Tornado movie Into the Storm proves as much. Despite not scoring high points for its script, it was a financial success doubtless due to its convincing depiction of windblown devastation.
Into the Storm was criticized on its theatrical release for being little more than a demo reel for visual effects. That should, however, be taken as a testament to how impressive the movie's digital rendition of tornadoes is. It's a shame, then, that the special features on Warner's Blu-ray release don't provide more detail on the challenges faced by the FX artists.
What we do get is three short featurettes, none of which lasts more than 12 minutes. Yet, despite their minimal running times, two of the three do provide some interesting background information on the science and technology used in the film.
The longest featurette, "Into the Storm: Tornado Files," provides descriptions of the various types of tornado seen in the film. These come courtesy of Reed Timmer, former presenter of Discovery Channel's Storm Chasers. As a meteorologist, Timmer clearly knows his stuff and the combination of facts and anecdotes he provides is informative and compelling without feeling exaggerated.
Coupled with real-life footage, Timmer's account doesn't leave much doubt that a tornado would be a terrifying phenomenon to experience. When that footage is matched up against the digital versions, it also becomes clear that Into the Storm is over the top but visually realistic.
The other informative featurette, "Titus: The Ultimate Storm Chasing Vehicle," focuses on how the production design team came up with the template for the vehicle used by storm chasers in the movie. The design was based on the armor-plated SRV Dominator, the vehicle Timmer used in his show. In describing the design considerations, the filmmakers and Timmer provide some insight into the things storm chasers have to account for when constructing transportation that will withstand powerful winds and debris.
For its five-minute duration, the third and final featurette, "Fake Storms, Real Conditions," largely centers on the actors and their experiences getting wet. In order to get realistic responses from the film's stars, the production crew frequently pelted them with hail, strong winds and rain, which often made filming an uncomfortable experience. Of the three making-of extras on the Blu-ray, this one is the least instructive and feels the most like a TV promo. Although it is worth watching you'll probably only want to do so once.
The Blu-ray release of Into the Storm reviewed here is the Canadian version and comes in a Combo-Pack that includes the film in HD on Blu-ray, in SD on DVD and in Digital HD format for download or streaming via UltraViolet.