Into the Storm (2014) Frightening to some, laughable to others

stormI was excited for Into the Storm to come out on August 8th, its been a long while since a decent disaster film came out that wasn’t related to a biblical story or originated on SyFy.  I loooooove disaster films, they’re much better at scaring me than actual horror films, just because disaster strikes on a regular, real basis, unlike a crazed, unstable serial killer whose got it out for some randy teenagers. Not to mention, I’m no longer a teenager, and I am not a cop, and have yet to be exposed to a psychopath, so you know, in my mid twenties, I think I’m safe.

Although, ironically enough, Into the Storm opens with your basic dumb teenagers being swept away in a twister because they weren’t smart enough to get in the car and get the hell out of the street when they saw power lines dropping like Raid-ridden flies. What’s really interesting about this take on a disaster film is that it takes hand-held POV camera shots to a new level. There is no real shakiness to any of the film, because for once you see people use tripods (by the amateur students that just so happen to be filming a time capsule for their father who is the Vice Principal of their school) and anti-shake cameras (by the professional storm chasers). What makes Into the Storm even cooler though, is that we have about 3-4 separate stories going on during the film, all of which intertwine intermittently throughout the short 89 minute film, which makes the movie blow by. (ehehe, get it?)

It’s a fun, fast-paced, nail biter that I think might give it’s older sister Twister a run for her money (and yes we have a flying cow in this film as well). Our cast, is composed of a single, over bearing father (mentioned above, played by Richard Armitage) his two high school-aged sons (Max Deacon and Nathan Kress aka Freddy from iCarly), the girl that one of the boys have an obligatorily crush on (Alycia Debnam Carey); a team of storm chasers which include the heartless, get anything for the shot Pete played by Matt Walsh, two new comers to the team that seem to have no luck (Sarah Wayne Callies and Jeremy Sumpter) and two seasoned camera men, one token black college student (Arlen Escarpeta, previously seen in Final Destination 5 and Friday the 13th as pretty much the same character) and one older white man who had such short screen time, I thought he was an actual crew member of the film, until he was addressed ONCE by Pete. Oh and there is also these two hill billies that end up chasing after the storm while pounding back numerous beers. They are simply the comic relief of the movie, but add to the fun thanks to Kyle Davis as “Donk” and Jon Reep as Reevis. The acting over all is fine, there are a few scenes that are intolerable, but they usually have the newer actors in them, so it’s forgivable. The best performances by far go to the young Nathan Krass and Matt Walsh, with Max Deacon a close third for only one very heart-shattering scene where he and his crush are *spoilers, it’s a damn disaster film* face to face with their own slow death of water slowly filling an inescapable basement. 

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What really steals the show though are the mass amount of twisters and the sheer destruction they leave in their wake. I mean you go into a disaster film hoping to see destruction and mass chaos, and the movie delivers, which is why I find it hard to believe that Rotten Tomatoes scored it as low as a 21% by critics and 50% by audiences. The film set out to show the audience what a handful of repeating circulation storm clouds can do to one poor county: the chaos when the sirens hit, running to safety, praying to the gods that it won’t hit you, and of course, the clean up afterwards.

One of the most interesting scenes for me took place in the school as everyone at an outside graduation ceremony took cover in the hallways and covered their heads. A drill any Mid-Western kid would be familiar with. So I sat there, on pins and needles waiting to see if they would survive the tornado coming straight for them, because you know, that could have been me or you in our childhood. That scene is worth the price of admission alone, because of how terrifying and realistic it is.

Into the Storm, for me, as an Ohioan girl who had to hide away in basements and take shelter in the hallways of her high school, was very frightening and delivered exactly what I wanted, but for others, who may not have that same innate fear of terrible storms and tornadoes, they might find the film foolish and unrelatable because they never lived through the fear of losing everything in this manner. I had saw this film with a friend who lived in Mexico for the majority of his life, which I believe does not have tornadoes (maybe just those terrifying hurricanes?) and while I was on the edge of my seat, he was occasionally chuckling at a tornado demolishing a bakery. So there’s the big difference on if you will be the audience that will either enjoy the film or hate it.

So if you’ve ever lived through a storm scare in your life, you might want to check out a controlled setting of it in Into the Storm, you might just have yourself a nice little fright and take away some handy tips for your next storm. Oh and one more thing, I totally ended up being chased by a severe storm right after I left the movie theater as well, check out my tweet with the photo.

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Guardians of the Galaxy: A triggering experience

Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-2-1308x1940This summer’s surprise hit, Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel’s introductory story of misfit criminals that set out to save the galaxy, (not just the world, so step aside Avengers) delivers not only laughs and excitement but also tears. Before I move any further with this praising review, I’d like to talk about the opening of the film, considering it may be a trigger for some people.

When one goes to see a summer blockbuster, they expect to forget about their own problems and get lost in a fun, fictional world, not break down in hysterical tears within the first ten minutes of the film. Which kinda ruined the rest of my time during the film. If you are a devout reader of mine (which let’s face it, you aren’t) you might realize that I recently lost my father to cancer last fall, we were unaware he had a brain tumor until it was too late, and he passed away within a month. I watched my strong, full-of-life father, who influenced me the most in my life, wither away to nothing and die in front of my eyes. It was the most difficult time of my life, and that, along with the opening of this film, is part of the reason I kept putting off this review. It opens with a young boy, Peter Quill aka Star Lord (Chris Pratt), sitting outside a hospital room listening to the recent pop songs of the 80s on a Walkman. Soon an older man comes out and escorts him into the hospital room where Peter’s mother is obviously dying from cancer. Before his eyes, we see his (fortunately) coherent mother say her goodbyes to her son and ask him to hold her hand as she passes. He ignores her extending arm and it’s too late, she passes and he breaks down. It’s heartbreaking and it took all of my will power to not audibly sob hysterically right there in the middle of the theater. I know that this scene is important for Star Lord’s back story and eventual plot line of growth in the film, but damn if I wasn’t ready of it.

The sad/weird thing is, is that I had a hankering there would be this type of plot line in the movie. Lately, anything I try to watch and enjoy, pretty much everything I love, from the drama/sci-fi/horror show Supernatural to the comedy/drama Wilfred everything I invest myself in kills of a main character, usually due to cancer. Spoiler alerts, the same day I went to see GotG I watched the 3rd to last episode of season four (and final) Wilfred, and guess what, the hilarious human-dog has, you got it, cancer. I finished the episode and curled up with my boyfriend and broke down in tears. Once I could compose myself again, I sighed, and said: “If Guardians of the Galaxy has a cancer plot line, I’m gonna freak the shit out!” And he laughs at me: “Jacki, it’s Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s a Marvel action film about crazy shit in space, you’ll be fine.”

I was not fine, nope, not at all, and with that triggering moment that composed of the first 10 minutes of the film, my night was ruined.

Sure I still had fun after I stopped hyperventilating, but it took time to trust the film again. Chris Pratt’s performance of Star Lord was perfect, he was funny, nonchalant, (not to mention super buff), and pulled off the “thrust into a leadership role” really well. One of my favorite duos on screen had to be Rocket the giant gun-toting Raccoon and the half-human, half-tree Groot (voiced by Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel). I mean, Groot’s expressions and actions just make him the most adorable living tree I have ever seen. 

Eventually Groot, Rocket, and Quill join forces along with Gamora (Zoe Saldana,  Star Trek’s Uhura) a kick-ass lady assassin who makes green skin sexy (Sorry Theadora, you just don’t cut it), and other prison inmate Drax (Dave Bautista) who happens to be the most literal man in the galaxy, which is hilarious. 

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The misfit band works well together, and the movie deliver’s it’s classic up-and-down “we’re not a team, well maybe we are, no fuck that, and then finally, hell yeah we’re a team” trope. Although, since we are focused so much on the team, I realize now how lack-luster the villains of this film are. They are just the classic revenge-seeking, I want to waste away the world, bad guys. And well, that’s what they should be since this is an introduction to how the Guardians of the Galaxy came to be, but I hope that means the next villainous bad guy will be hella scarier.

The scenery and CGI are beautifully done, and bring not only the background to life, but also believable characters (considering half of the team was CGI). But what really makes the film fun, especially after the round-house kick to the stomach in the beginning, was the soundtrack. It’s perfect in every way, and breaths life into a familiar plot line. There are also LOADS of pop reference sprinkled all throughout the place as well.

Guardians of the Galaxy is not Marvel’s best film, but it certainly isn’t the worst. It is a fun romp for the summer if you skip over the first 10 minutes of the film, unless you’re just a heartless person, or you know, possibly didn’t watch your own parent die in front of your eyes, but you know, we all have our triggers, and I suppose I found mine.

Catch Guardians of the Galaxy while it’s in theaters, because this one was marketed in such a brilliant way, that EVERYBODY and their uncle will be seeing this one.

The World’s End (What did Jacki K Watch, Day 33)

The World’s End Poster

The World’s End is a smart, clever, spectacular British comedy that we thick Americans should all be able to enjoy. It may have been about 5 years since the creative team behind Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead has graced the screens around the world, but it was well worth the wait. Continue reading

We’re the Millers (What did Jacki K watch? Day 29)

We're the Millers* Poster

We’re the Millers* Poster

We’re the Millers was being advertised as the drop kick, funniest movie of the summer; now was it that? No, it was not. This was though. Was it funny? Yes, did it make me shit myself from laughter? No, could I have waited to see it for free or rental? Yes. Yes, I could have, and yes you could as well.

We’re the Millers, has an amazing cast that could deliver laughs and make you squirm in awkward pain, but I don’t think they delivered their full potential. It’s a fun movie to sit back and enjoy sober, but it may just be loads funnier if you’re drunk or stoned while viewing the movie. It only makes sense considering the nature of the film right? Oh, wait do you not know the premise of the movie yet? Continue reading

Now You See Me (What Did Jacki K Watch? Day 14)

Poster Work

I know I was a bit late to the magic show, but at least I finally checked in. I am sorry it took me about three weeks to see the spectacular movie that is Now You See MeThe film is a whirlwind of fun and for a caper, mystery, magic, crime movie, it keeps you guessing. There are parts of the film that you can read into before hand, while there are other scenes that keep you pondering at the end of the film. It deserves more than one viewing for not only the latter reason but also because it is visually remarkable and astonishing to the viewer.  Don’t believe me? Watch this trailer: Continue reading