Into The Storm

Warner Brothers

Rated PG-13 for profanity, sexual references, and scenes of intense peril and destruction

Tornado Wreaks Havoc On Tiny Oklahoma Town In Thrill-A-Minute Disaster Flick

The skies are deceptively serene over Silverton, Oklahoma, offering no reminder of the fact that four people recently perished in a deadly tornado that touched down in a neighboring city. Consequently, we find the townfolk blissfully unaware of the rough weather bearing down on the area threatening to ruin high school graduation day.

Vice Principal Gary Morris (Richard Armitage), who is in charge of the commencement festivities, has assigned his sons, Trey (Nathan Kress), a sophomore, and Donnie (Max Deacon), a junior, the thankless task of filming the ceremony in order to preserve it for posterity in a buried time capsule. His younger boy complies with the request, but the elder is immediately distracted from the task at hand by an opportunity to assist a cute classmate (Alycia Debnam Carey) salvage her own video project.

Meanwhile, a team of storm chasers is rushing toward Silverton at the direction of its meteorologist, Allison Stone (Sarah Wayne Callies), since her computer data has predicted that the next funnel cloud is likely to form somewhere in that vicinity. But because she’s a single mom with a five-year-old (Keala Wayne Winterhalt) back home, she’s a lot less enthusiastic about her job than their leader, Pete Moore (Matt Walsh).

Like a latter-day Captain Ahab, Moore is maniacal in his quest to capture the mother of all cyclones on camera. So, he exhorts Allison and the rest of the crew to risk life and limb in search of that elusive dream shot from inside the eye of a storm.

At least they have a couple of vehicles specially outfitted for such an occasion, including a glass turreted tank with grappling claws that can withstand winds of up to 170 mph. That’s more than can be said about local yokels Donk (Kyle Davis) and Reevis (John Reep), fate-tempting daredevils who have decided to try to capture footage by riding around in a pickup truck emblazoned on the back with a hand-painted sign that reads “TWISTA HUNTERZ.”

Once the colorful cast of soon-to-be imperiled archetypes has been introduced, Allison’s dire forecast proves uncannily accurate as ominous clouds form overhead. That’s when the fun starts in Into The Storm, a ’70s-style disaster flick reminiscent of such unnerving classics as Airport (1970), The Poseidon Adventure (1972) and The Towering Inferno (1974).

This update of the genre benefits immeasurably from state-of-the-art CGI, a worthwhile investment for the eye-popping special f/x alone. A campy and cheesy yet visually-captivating roller coaster ride that makes Sharknado look like Sharknado 2!

 

Excellent (4 stars)

Running time: 89 minutes

 

 

Web Junkie

Kino Lorber

Unrated

Cold Turkey Exposé Examines Internet Addiction In China

How long do you think you could you survive without access to a cell phone or computer? A few hours? A day? A week? How about three months? That’s the degree of deprivation awaiting adolescents diagnosed as addicted to the internet over inChina, the first country to officially recognize the burgeoning malady as a clinical disorder.

The Rx for the afflicted is 90 days of rehab at one of 400 paramilitary boot camps where one must adhere to a Spartan daily regimen sans any electronic stimuli. Going cold turkey is not an easy thing to adjust to for kids used to playing video games for hours on end.

But that is precisely the goal of the shrinks in Web Junkie, a cautionary tale making one wonder whether America might not be far behind. The documentary was directed by Shosh Shlam and Hilla Medalia who were afforded extraordinary access to the intervention and treatment of a trio of teenage boys whose exasperated parents sought help from a facility in Beijing.

The film traces the transformation of Hope, Hacker and Nicky from insufferable, anti-social jerks who barely communicate with their families, teachers and classmates into sensitive souls truly changed by therapy and the period offline. It’s nothing short of miraculous to see the same kid who couldn’t be bothered to talk to his father eventually melt into a touchy-feely hugger who upon reuniting tearfully says, “I love you, Dad.”

Overall, the movie makes a convincing case that cell phone use ought to be limited during a child’s formative years when the social part of the brain is still developing. For, the subjects of this telling exposé certainly seem to suffer from stunted development due to too much time spent playing computer games and surfing the ‘net.

A tough love remedy from the Orient designed for impressionable young minds which prefer virtual reality to relating in the flesh.

 

Excellent (4 stars)

In Mandarin with subtitles

Running time: 76 minutes

 

 

OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules:

For movies opening August 15, 2014

 

The Expendables 3 (PG-13 for profanity and violence) Third installment in the high-impact franchise finds the guys reuniting to rescue a former team member (Wesley Snipes) before squaring off with another (Mel Gibson) who has gone rogue with malevolent intentions. Beefcake cast featuring Sly Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terry Crews, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Kellan Lutz and Jet Li, along with Harrison Ford, Antonio Banderas and Kelsey Grammer.

 

The Giver (PG-13 for action, violence and mature themes) Adaptation of Lois Lowry’s Newbery Award-winning children’s novel about a teen (Brenton Thwaites) who becomes disillusioned upon learning the truth about his supposed utopia upon becoming the protégé of the one person (Jeff Bridges) living there aware of the existence of pain, sadness, war and other woes. Ensemble includes Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes, Odeya Rush, Taylor Swift and Alexander Skarsgard.

 

Let’s Be Cops (R for profanity, violence, drug use, sexuality and graphic nudity) Crime comedy about pals (Damon Wayans, Jr. and Jake Johnson) pretending to be police officers at a costume party who later become entangled in a real life web of intrigue involving mobsters and crooked detectives. With Andy Garcia, Angela Kerecz and Nina Dobrev.

 

Dinosaur 13 (PG for mature themes, mild epithets and brief smoking) Archeology documentary about a dig in the South Dakota Badlands, led by paleontologist Peter Larson, which unearthed the bones of the biggest Tyrannosaurus Rex ever found.

 

Fort McCoy (R for violence) Fact-based World War II saga, set inWisconsin in the summer of ‘44, about a barber (Eric Stoltz) who set up shop nearby a U.S. Army base also serving as a German POW camp. Co-starring Kate Connor, Camryn Manheim,SeymourCassel, Brendan Fehr and Andy Hirsch.

 

Frank (R for profanity and some sexuality) Musical comedy about an aspiring musician (Domhnall Gleeson) with second thoughts after joining a rock band whose mysterious lead singer (Michael Fassbender) wears a bubble-head mask 24/7. With Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scoot McNairy and Tess Harper.

 

Jake Squared (R for profanity) Elias Koteas stars as the title character of this romantic dramedy about a 50-year-old loser at love who decides to make a movie about his life in order to figure out why he’s screwed up every romantic relationship he’s ever had. Cast includes Virginia Madsen, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Kevin Railsback.

 

Life After Beth (R for violence, sexuality, nudity, brief drug use and pervasive profanity) Horror comedy about a grief-stricken guy (Dane DeHaan) who gets more than he wished for when his recently-deceased girlfriend (Aubrey Plaza) comes back to life as a man-eating zombie. Supporting cast includes John C. Reilly, Anna Kendrick, Paul Reiser, Molly Shannon and Cheryl Hines.

 

The One I Love (R for profanity, sexuality and drug use) Romantic comedy revolving around a couple (Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss) whose weekend getaway intended to revitalize their flagging marriage instead has them confronting an unexpected dilemma. With Ted Danson and Oscar winners Marlee Matlin (Children Of A Lesser God) and Mary Steenburgen (Melvin And Howard).

 

Septic Tank (R for violence, profanity and gory images) Gruesome horror flick about a sewer worker (Jason David Brown) who mutates into a hideous monster after getting trapped in a septic tank while searching underground for the source of the city’s water contamination. With Molly Dunsworth, Robert Maillet and Tim Burd.

 

A Will For The Woods (Unrated) Final wish documentary about a psychiatrist suffering from lymphoma’s plan to minimize his corpse’s carbon footprint by being buried in the forest.

 

The Word (Unrated) Revenge drama about a corporate executive (Kevin O’Donnell) who is torn between taking the law into his own hands and moving on with his life in the wake of his son’s (Vincent Pavonetti) kidnap and murder. With James Naughton, Maggie Lacey and Natalia Payne.

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