A storm chaser’s reaction to Supercell (2023 film)
Never in a million years could I have imagined Alec Baldwin playing a storm chaser in a movie. I’m always down to check out any storm chasing movie, but nothing can top Twister (so far). Storm chasing movies are not mainstream, but there is a niche for these kinds of films. Just a few things stood out to me in this movie. Spoiler alert! Get ready for another severe weather movie.
The movie Supercell (1h40m) just came out March 2023. It’s a full length film with a plot revolving around a teenage boy that runs away from home to follow in his fathers footsteps. His father is a legendary storm chaser, called Bill Brody.
I can relate to this, sort of, because I had a deep early interest in severe weather. A severe storm would just captivate me, some kind of amazing thing would be happening in front of you that just literally peaks your curiosity. Storm chasing was always something interesting to me.
There are a few notable people in this movie. It’s kind of odd that Alec Baldwin would be in a main role because of the recent tragic death on the set of a movie (he was associated with). Daniel Diemer plays the son, William Brody. Years earlier, his dad, played by Richard Gunn (the fake legendary Bill Brody storm chaser) would get too close to a tornado and dies. This was also one of Anne Heche’s last films (she played the mother, Quinn).
This part of Supercell is predictable. Once the dad gets killed (early in the film), the story shifts towards Alec Baldwin’s character, known as Zane Rogers. He now runs the family business because apparently the family-owned research group was in financial ruin and had an unsure future because of the death of Bill Brody. Rogers turns it into a money-making storm chasing tour business. The film makes it blatantly obvious as to what his motives are with “Brody Storm Tours”.
Now here is something interesting…
Alec Baldwin’s character (Zane Rogers) is very close to the reckless attitude of some well-known (real-life) storm chasers that actually run tour groups. People pay thousands of dollars to sit in a tour van. There have been a few close calls with tour operators being reckless (almost getting people killed). Who was this movie basing his character on? I have my ideas, especially given the emphasis on a reckless, rude, jerk that continuously drives people into danger – with little or no regard for safety (even to the point of getting people injured and then telling them to thank him for the opportunity).
We’ve had some actual storm chasing tour groups do exactly this – drive van loads of tourists right into unnecessary danger. Zane could be a number of actual storm chasing tour guides. Who knows?
I’ve heard some complaints about how obvious it was that this was a low budget movie. I don’t like knocking low budget movies because everything has potential. Some of the brightest directors and actors can do wonders on a low budget. Now that I’ve said that, one thing stood out to me like a sore thumb – the unplugged radio.
It’s common – even for big budget films – to make goofs (mistakes). But this movie seems to go beyond that, in one specific way. There were multiple scenes were a radio is really emphasized. It sits on the dashboard of the van and it is one of the most emphasized objects in multiple scenes. But it is not plugged into any antenna. The antenna connector is disconnected. Why?
There are multiple antennas on the truck but they don’t seem to go to anything. Back to the unplugged radio… that really screamed low budget. It appears multiple times. I guess the ham radio operator in me really focused on that as an obvious, continued mistake that was never addressed. Plug it into something for realism.
Other mistakes have been pointed out on IMDB, such as Roy pointing a rifle at William Brody and then leaving the rifle behind. The same thing happens with a goof by leaving boxes of shirts, but then they are not visible in the next shot. These are simple mistakes that scream low budget.
Storm chasing movies don’t really need guns and bombs, supercells are much more powerful than either of those things. This film has some interesting storm chasing scenes, especially the “gorilla hail” scene. You will never forget the first time softball-sized (or larger) hail destroys all of your windows, dents every part of your car, and even leaves craters in the ground.
You are much more likely to encounter large hail than a huge tornado, when it comes to storm chasing. The hail was so large that it totaled their first van in the movie – pretty realistic (it’s happened before).
You will also never forget the feeling of getting stuck during a tornado warning. The movie has a dramatic scene in it where the tour van becomes stuck in the mud. This is completely possible and may some day be a deadly mistake for some real storm chasing tour company. Again, there have been close calls in real life. That’s a pretty realistic action scene.
It would have been nice to incorporate actual storm chaser video, a little more than what they did for the actual chase scenes. There is so much drone and up-close footage that could have been incorporated into this film. Obviously, you want to keep the “talent” safe so there are limits. The director probably isn’t going to take the actors into a real tornadic supercell to get better footage. Distant supercell shots are possible and do appear in the movie.
Action should complement storm chasing, not take away from it. For example, and for some reason, the director emphasizes the mother constantly smoking. Scene after scene, the smoking. What does this have to do with storm chasing? We get that anxiety may be a theme, but it took away from the movie plot.
Again, storm chasing movies are not mainstream cash cows, but they have their own niche. Plenty of people will like this film. Plenty of people will also hate it (see Rotten Tomatoes). I always give disaster movies a chance because that’s part of my life, education, and profession. This had potential, but it falls way short of other higher quality films, including Twister from 1996 (the ultimate storm chaser movie).
Beware! If you do like storm chasing movies, it has been reported that a sequel to Twister is coming out in 2024.
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