Editor’s Notes: The following review is part of our coverage of the 2015 Vancouver International Film Festival. For more information on the festival visit viff.org and follow VIFF on Twitter at @viffest.
A 3D film in the vein of Planet Earth, Hurricane traces the natural environment and how hurricanes come in contact with civilization. Focusing on Hurricane Lucy, the film uses a faux-poetic mode to personify the hurricane. A female voiceover allows the makers to film Lucy’s thoughts and ideas. A pseudo-philosophical concept used last year in Wim Wenders collaborative piece Cathedrals of Culture, the personification of a hurricane is a lurid and superficial gimmick which fails to provide and real insight. It tries to show us that hurricanes have feelings, which runs completely contradictory to how it depicts them as indifferent elemental forces.
Presented by Andy Byatt, producer of Planet Earth and director of Deep Blue, shares the same urgency of displaying gorgeous imagery. This time, it is meant to dazzle in three dimensions. Unfortunately, this has been seen so much now, and it frankly pales in comparison to footage earlier realized in the Planet Earth series. Where the film tries to find distinction is in its personification of the hurricane, taking advantage of the ancient practice of naming hurricanes in order to try to elicit an emotional human connection to the force of nature. Some of the trite conversation from Lucy herself includes, “I am a tyrant.” This is hardly insightful commentary. As if it matters to believe that Lucy self-recognized herself as a tyrant. This is nonsense. She simply acted out her indifferent and natural life as a hurricane. The notion of tyranny doesn’t exist in the world of hurricanes.
Latching onto Victor Hugo for superficial sophistication, Hurricane tries to use poetry along with its first person hurricane voiceover. The combination is a stultifying mess of convoluted storytelling on top of images which don’t require any story. The best moments, consequently, are those which are purely observational, such as the metaphor of a tumbleweed seen in the film’s intro as well as the multiple shots of gecko’s hiding from the torrential rain which threatens their life.
The poetry and voiceover, however, is all pretense. Filming 18 separate hurricanes and parsing it together, there is not even a sense of verisimilitude since it is obvious from the cities in the backgrounds that not all scenes are of Hurricane Lucy in spite of the continual voice-over from her point of view. Hurricane provides minimal substantial information about hurricanes, choosing to efface knowledge for emotional provocation. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t even work as a satisfying rush of emotions and grand imagery, as the entire film is rather unimpressive and poorly put together.
Unfortunately, the film doesn’t even work as a satisfying rush of emotions and grand imagery, as the entire film is rather unimpressive and poorly put together.