Incompatible fronts collide in director Steven Quale's weather-horror patience-tester Into the Storm. The first is the summertime yen for righteous kablooey, the dumber the better, exemplified here by drunk galoots hauling ass into a twister on a four-wheeler ATV. In the climactic mega-funnel, jets and 18-wheelers flit about like dollar bills in one of those county-fair grab-the-money booths. That's one of several audaciously dumb bits: Just moments after seeing four twisters touch down, including one on fire, destroy the movie's Everytown Main Street, a teenage boy glances at meteorological equipment he's never seen before and cries out, "It's getting worse!" So, the flick's got its blockbuster bona fides. Too bad all that razzle-dazzle keeps smashing into that second front, our real-world memories of Joplin, Greensburg, and those three days in 2011, when tornadoes killed 348 Americans. Has there ever before been such big-ticket escapist entertainment released about the awesomeness of something that so recently killed so many of us? Doesn't it usually take a while longer before everyone's ready for candy spun from trauma?
The CGI effects are too goofy to take seriously, but the devastated homes and streets look like devastated homes and streets, and the post-climax scenes of tattered American flags and survivors coming together to heal could be well-shot news footage. But the character beats -- and there are a lot of them -- are hokily old-fashioned, more evidence of the filmmakers' irreconcilable impulses. At the end, these harried survivors beam with the certainty that they've each learned a lesson about what life's really about.