Review by Cole Groth
If you’ve ever asked yourself the daring question, “What if 1996’s Twister was re-written by sappy teenagers with no understanding of spectacle?” you’ll be appropriately disappointed by the answer: Supercell. This disaster movie, starring Skeet Ulrich and Alec Baldwin, captures some of the spectacle of tornado chasing but is marred by a cheap script and horrific visuals.
After his father is killed while chasing a dangerous storm many years ago, William (Daniel Diemer) seeks to follow in his footsteps by running away from his mom (Anne Heche) and finding shelter in a ragtag group of storm chasers. Heading the group are Alec Baldwin’s Zane Rogers and his uncle, played by Ulrich. As an enormous storm approaches, William slowly learns the dangers of storm chasing and why his father was killed doing it.
The plot is serviceable for those looking for schlocky action and fun set pieces, but for people who care about script quality, this will surely disappoint. For such an emotional premise, Supercell falls flat with an emotionless main character and an overall dull screenplay. It should be easy to make these films fun, but director and writer Herbert James Winterstern leans too heavily into the drama to make this an easy movie to shut your brain off to while not being cinematic enough to be engaging.
Supercell will release in both theaters and on video on demand, which directly reflects the quality of the film. There are parts of this that look theatrical and interesting. The use of dramatic musical buildups will take audiences right back to 2010 when adventure movies were cheesy and fun. The cinematography makes everything look big, but the grand scale of it all is juxtaposed by horrific CGI and terrible sound mixing.
This is truly one of the worst mixed films I’ve had the displeasure of reviewing. Typically, the sound quality is compressed over the screeners I’m given, but there’s no way the compression was the issue. The obnoxiously loud music and sound effects make several scenes impossible to hear. The horrible mixing — along with special effects that could come out of mockbuster studio The Asylum — make this a genuinely unpleasant film experience.
Going back to music, Corey Wallace’s score is great. It’s somewhat generic but manages to create the spectacle that disaster movies like this need to succeed. The chase sequences are made a lot more tolerable by the over-the-top music behind them.
The disaster genre of film is dying, and movies like Supercell aren’t doing anything to fix it. There’s something fun about the scale of a massive storm, and while this recreates some of that terrifying energy, there are too many technical issues keeping this from being anything more than a B-movie to watch on your iPhone.
Supercell releases in theaters and on VOD starting March 17.