Sunday, June 14, 2015

Netflix Mail Day Movie Review: "The Impossible" (2012)

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Movie"The Impossible"
Director: J.A. Bayona
Year: 2012
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 54 minutes

Maria (Naomi Watts) and her family are vacationing at a resort in Thailand. One morning while relaxing at the resort's pool, a tsunami come crashing towards the resort, destroying everything in its path and sweeping Maria and her family away in a giant wall of water. Struggling to survive with her son Lucas (Tom Holland), Maria is rescued and brought to a hospital by some of the locals. While she lies dying in a hospital bed, Henry (Ewan McGregor) has made it back to the hotel and is bound and determined to find his wife and kids and reunite his family.

As far as disaster movies go, "The Impossible" is one of the better ones we have seen, and not just because it has a lot of really great computer graphics during the actual tsunami, but because it also has a compelling story behind the destruction. So many times with disaster flicks, the story is sacrificed in lieu of these big and often over-the-top sequences of destruction, but the fact that the story is real makes it all the more interesting and engaging to the audience.

If you have even the smallest bit of knowledge about current events from the last decade or so, you will remember the tsunami of 2004 in the Indian ocean that hit the shores of Thailand. Based on true events, "The Impossible" focuses on one family that got caught in this horrible disaster. Some have criticized filmmakers for choosing to focus on a vacationing white family rather, rather than the natives of Thailand. In addition, the filmmakers also changed the nationality of the family the film is based on from that of Spanish descent to that of an English speaking country. We don't necessarily agree with this critique of the film as it helps Western audiences connect to the tragedy of the real life disaster and the film portrays the natives of Thailand in a heroic manner; however, it's never good when Hollywood whitewashes a movie, and it's a sad state of affairs when we have to exclaim we're not surprised by this change. This movie is still able to show the Thai people as resourceful and helpful during times of horrible crisis, even to those simply visiting their country. While the story at hand is ultimately one we have seen a thousand times before, somehow "The Impossible" is still compelling enough to pay attention the entire way through its run time.

Ewan McGregor plays the patriarch of the family, Henry, who simply wanted to give his family a nice vacation. Boy, we'd hate to have made that call. Naomi Watts plays the matriarch, Maria, who is a doctor, but has to deal with her own severe injury. After the tsunami, she is not only left fighting for survival, but left hoping to find her boys and husband, wherever they may be. McGregor and Watts do a wonderful job in each of their performances and we truly empathize with them in this story. Their three boys are Lucas, played by Tom Holland, Thomas, played by Samuel Joslin, and Simon, played by Oaklee Pendergast, all do a good enough job as kids simply trying to stay alive and find their parents in a foreign country after disaster strikes. This being a disaster film, there are some pretty major special effects and we're happy to report they are done very well, giving the tsunami a realistic, terrifying and perilous feel. You hear about this sort of disaster on the news and see the aftermath in photographed images, but to show the disaster on screen itself is awe-inspiring, and to see the raw, destructive power of nature is breathtakingly horrifying. This film manages to bring the emotion of a large scale disaster to the screen, through the trials of this one family, making the loss something more than just a statistic. We empathize with all of Thailand in real life as we realize there are thousands upon thousands of more untold stories of survival much like this one. "The Impossible" does a great job bringing to light just one of these stories, and whitewashing aside, offers great performances and tremendous special effects.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 81%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!
One year ago, we were watching: "The Monuments Men"

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