Customer Reviews: The Impossible
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Going into a movie like "The Impossible," I knew exactly what to expect. Based on the real life experiences of Maria Belon (who takes a story credit) and her family, the film focuses on the harrowing tsunami that devastated Thailand in 2004. "The Impossible" never attempts to be anything more than it is and that is much to its credit. In a waking nightmare, the simple story highlights one family affected by the trauma. Separated, injured, and scared beyond belief, it recounts the struggle to stay alive and the quest to reconnect. This is NOT a film about plot, however, for the outcome is predetermined (and pretty much given away in the marketing even if you haven't heard any peripheral information). This is solely about the journey. And with a handful of remarkable performances and with sweeping effects, the movie works on an entirely visceral level that is likely to leave you emotionally drained. While perhaps not perfect, it is a gut wrenching experience that is hard to shake.

Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor step into the primary roles despite the fact that the real life Belons were from Spain. In fact, this is the first English language film by respected Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage). Nationality differences aside, Bayona has crafted a movie with universal appeal. The love of family crosses all cultural borders, and the heart of the screenplay recognizes this with unwavering clarity. Watts and McGregor are enjoying Christmas with their three sons at a posh seaside resort as the film opens. Truthfully, we don't get to know too much about the clan. They are painted in fairly broad strokes as a perfect little family unit. But their idyllic holiday is cut short one morning as a tsunami rips across the country. The remainder of the film plays out as a story of survival, hope and perseverance. I don't really need to divulge more than that other than to say I was completely swept up in this aftermath.

Watts (an Oscar nominee here) opens herself fully to the emotional strength of a mother attempting to protect her brood even if she's no longer capable of taking care of herself. McGregor is terrific, as well, forging ahead with dogged determination. A long time fan, this is one of his more satisfying roles of late. But perhaps the unsung star of the piece is young Tom Holland. Playing the eldest son, Holland has perhaps the biggest and most complex role as this event has thrust him into new responsibilities. In my opinion, Holland should have been invited to awards season for his well rounded and dynamic work! Another real star of "The Impossible," though, are its incredible effects and production design. The realism of the tsunami and its devastation is integral to the story and it is handled expertly. There are literally moments that I won't soon forget!

Even though I knew the outcome, I was wholeheartedly invested in following "The Impossible" to the end. At times, it borders on melodrama (especially in the final scenes) and it might have used some more in-depth characterization. But as an emotional experience, this film punched me in the gut and never let go. And if a movie can truly move me (I'm pretty jaded and hard hearted), it earns high marks in my book. An intensely satisfying epic, I really connected to this one. About 4 1/2 stars, I'll round up for Holland's star making turn. KGHarris, 2/13.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon March 23, 2013
I just watched a 12-year-old boy become a man. After 114 grueling minutes of calamity piled upon disaster followed by tragedy, I got a lump in my throat along with the rest of the audience as we saw a dauntless family do its best to cope with a vacation gone very, very wrong. "Lo imposible" is based on a book by María Belón which in turn was inspired by true events that occurred during the catastrophic tsunami that devastated southeast Asia in 2004.

We follow:
* Naomi Watts ("J. Edgar") is María, a physician who has suspended her career to raise a family.
* Ewan McGregor ("Salmon Fishing in the Yemen") is Henry, her husband, who has concerns about his job but most particularly whether or not he re-set the house alarm when they left for their vacation.
* Tom Holland (voice:"The Secret World of Arrietty") is Lucas, a mildly rebellious tween but a good kid. Once he and his badly injured mother are stranded in the bewildering detritus of the tsunami, he is the stronger and the healthier of the two. He never hesitates.
* Samuel Joslin (in his first movie role) is Thomas, the tyke charged with the responsibility to watch over his even littler brother. He is truly alarmed and his scene with his father is brilliant.
* Oaklee Pendergast ("EastEnders") is Simon, the little brother who really has to pee!

Much has been made over the myopia of Western Europeans making a movie that features a white family in the midst of a tragedy that killed over 200,000 (mostly local) people. I could argue that these locals are portrayed in the very best light: they instantly spring to the aid of any and everyone, are kind, considerate and life-saving whenever possible.

Director Juan Antonio Bayona ("The Orphanage") has created a masterpiece that is surely the envy of directors who specialize in disaster films. The scope of this one is astonishing. I have no idea how much of it is Computer Generated Imaging, how much is from news clips and how much was staged, but suffice it to say, it is truly impressive. First the tsunami itself, then the ravaged land with the villagers who immediately come to help, the field hospitals that are quickly set up and the emergency care that is mobilized, are mind-boggling. All combine to make me proud that I'm a human being.

As expected, the adults in this film are terrific, but the children are exceptional! The PG-13 rating is for the intensity of the suffering and the scope of the tsunami. A loving family is what we are there to see and we get to see it! You'll enjoy your DVD from Amazon.
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on May 5, 2013
The young Tom Holland brings heart, soul, and courage to his performance. Much of the emotion in the film is expressed through his reactions.

Naomi Watts was also stellar.

This was not a sugar-coated account of the tsunami, but rather real, raw, and powerful. Of course, I had to google the real family. What an amazing story.

Makes you want to go and hug all of your loved ones.
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on February 14, 2013
Though I do agree with the first reviewer that there wasn't enough character development before the tragedy struck, this is still an unforgettable viewing experience. From the moment the tsunami hits it's painfully obvious that this is not going to be an easy film to sit through. It's gut wrenching. Now, I'm a hardcore horror fan before anything else and I can honestly say that there are moments that are extremely brutal and cringe worthy (and for you horror folks you might want to know that the director of The Impossible, J.A. Bayona, also did The Orphanage). Beyond the brutality, however, is an amazing story based on true events that I will remember for a long time to come. It's brilliant film making, even with it's flaws. What it does well, it does exceptionally well. I've seen almost all of the Oscar films this year (still have Amour and The Sessions to go) and I would put it near the middle of the Best Picture nominees which in my opinion it should be up for. Unfortunately, it only got the nom for Best Actress with a fantastic performance by Naomi Watts. I can't even imagine the hell she must have been through in making this movie.

As for the Blu-ray, I'm looking forward to it. Here are the current confirmed extras.

Audio commentary with director J.A. Bayona, writer Sergio G. Sánchez and producer Belén Atienza and María Belón
Two featurettes
Deleted scenes

I was hoping for an in depth making of the film, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen. I could watch hours on the making of the tsunami scenes alone.

All in all, this should definitely be a Blu-ray to look out for. It's easily one of the best films to be released on the format so far in 2013, and it's a movie that I won't soon forget.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon February 25, 2013
This epic film recounts one family's struggle to survive the massive tsunami coming out of the Indian Ocean in 2004, striking the luxurious beach front resorts of Thailand and into the inland areas. A Spanish production under the direction of Juan Antonio Bayona with a script from Sergio G. Sanchez, the real-life Spanish family is replaced by one from Britain headed by Henry (Ewan McGregor) and Maria (Naomi Watts).

They and their 3 boys, ranging in age from about 4 to 13, are swept up in the giant waves that hit the country the day after Christmas. Maria and the oldest boy Lucas (Tom Holland) are literally thrown together as the water takes them deep into the interior. The film follows them after the impact of the wave.

Speaking of the wave. This is one of the most dramatic and authentic disaster scenes I can remember. Yes, the thunderous wave hitting the resort is a marvelous example of what talented filmmakers can do, but the underwater shots of Lucas and his mother being tossed about along with bicycles, cars and furniture is indeed frightening and realistic. The story essentially shows the survival skills of an injured Maria (a non-practicing M.D.) and Lucas. Another follows Henry and the 2 younger boys (Samuel Joslin and Oaklee Pendergast) as they look for the rest of their family.

The performances are wonderful from everyone involved. McGregor has never been better as the rational but determined husband and father. I would hope Oscar would give some attention to Ms. Watts. In a performance that reminded me of John Hawkes in "The Sessions," Watts must perform for the most part, laid out on a gurney or hospital bed. Her emotions and despair come from her facial expressions and her eyes. In a year filled with great performances from young actors, I would include Holland as the kid about to make a big leap toward manhood. I think most people will identify with Lucas while watching this film, hoping you would act like him or hope to have a child with his courage and conviction.

While impossible to keep tears at bay (even without some of the swelling violins), I found the film to be ultimately uplifting and enormously spellbinding. While I wouldn't expect a commercial film like this to necessarily focus on the more than a quarter million citizens killed, I did think a footnote at the end of the film would have been appropriate to highlight the severity of this tragedy.

The Blu ray version has a 1080p resolution with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Audio options include a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Subtitles are available for English (SDH) and Spanish.
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on December 29, 2014
Absolutely one of my new favorite movies. Not sure what rock I was hiding under because I had never even heard of this movie! I happened to see it in the Red Box and read the description and knew that it was exactly what I was looking for. I was not disappointed one ounce! It surpassed my hopes and I am now buying it and telling everyone I know about it!!!
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on May 13, 2016
A family's vacation turned tragic, chaotic and how they reunited. A powerful movie about how strangers bonded when all they had were each other, with a salute to the dedicated medical staff in Thailand under impossible working conditions. Subduction of a continental plate, one plate was submerging beneath the other. Tension built in the top plate as it snagged from friction and recoiled. The tension was released when the plate abruptly slid forward, displacing unfathomable tons of water. This triggered the tsunami off the western coast of northern Sumatra, killing 230,000 people in 14 countries. Waves up to 100 feet swept over Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand. A similar undersea megathrust occurred on March 11, 2011 off the coast of Japan.
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I just saw The Impossible at the movies today. This film hasn't received the prestige treatment that others have in a year that has seen exceptional films, but it should have.
The movie starts with a family visiting a resort off the coast of Thailand during the Christmas holiday of 2004. The mother, father, and three sons seem unremarkable on the face of it. They are just nice though the viewer really never is given much insight into their lives prior to their vacation or the events that have preceded the day after Christmas. On December 26, 2004 the family is kicking back around the resort's pool after their Christmas celebration the night before.
In a moment that seems as unremarkable as the family itself, the ordinary is replaced by the surge of a wall of water guaranteed to horrify. A tsunami rushes in and destroys everything and everyone in a flash. As the family struggles against the surge they are separated. Thus begins a story of profound loss, survival, uncertainty, and lives that will inevitably impacted and changed forever. In the process there are gestures of sympathy and kindness, both large and small in their simplicity that echo the inherent goodness in people regardless of their age or position in life. As the family struggles to reunite with great uncertainty of what lies ahead, the viewer gets involved not only with the disaster and its inevitable horror but also with the human struggle to survive and also deal with loss.
I expected this to be a rough movie to watch. When this event occurred I was transfixed and depressed by what I saw on TV and knew what would follow. As this film played out, what surprised me was the there was an upside to the tragedy which was portrayed. The struggle to survive and the kindness of complete strangers was life affirming and spiritually uplifting. For me, using the device of a family in peril removed this from the category of disaster story to a human story that spoke for both the victims and the survivors of an unparalleled disaster in current times.
The special effects were very realistic. The photography as well as the pacing of this movie were just right. The acting in this movie was great. Naomi Watts was nominated for an Academy Award for a powerful performance as the mother Maria, but there were many fine performances in this movie. Ewan McGregor as Henry her husband and Tom Holland as the son Lucas who Maria struggles to save, contribute to elevating this story on a dramatic level. In fact, Tom Holland was absolutely remarkable.
This was a beautifully done film and one which will stay with me for a long time.
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on July 17, 2016
They have to say this is a true story... because over and over again you'll say... no way. How this movie has so many 5 star ratings is beyond me. Good special effects and cinematography make up for plodding story with not one strong male character. Women and kids in charge. Maybe a whole area was full of beta males, but I doubt it. A feel-good movie for women I guess.... and kids, but improbable and though tear jerking on cue, I did not feel attached to this family in the least. An ABC after-school special with unnecessary boob shots and gore. Needed better writing... but alas... it was all true, so there's that.
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"The Impossible" (2012 release; 113 min.) brings the story (based on true events) of the Bellon family vacationing in Thailand on the eve of the largest tsunami recorded in history (December 26, 2004). Maria (played by Naomi Watts) and Henry (played by Ewan McGregor) are with their 3 boys, ages 5 to 12. Fifteen minutes into the movie, and the tsunami hits. I have never seen anything like it before (blowing away any comparison to Clint Eastwood's "Hereafter"). The next 30 min. are some of the more harrowing I have seen in a movie in a long, long time. It is truly hard to describe the devastation that we get to witness. Maria and her 12 yr. old son Lucas (played by Tom Holland) are split off from the rest of their family, and try to hang on for dear life (literally). To tell you more of the plot would ruin your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Several comments: first and foremost, the acting performance from Naomi Watts is superb, playing a heavily wounded/half-dead woman who nevertheless wants to do what she can to save her family. Newcomer Tom Holland as the 12 yr. old Lucas is very effective as well. Second, the photography of the movie is visually astonishing, creating images that will stay with me for quite some time. Third, interestingly this is not a American or British production, but in fact it is entirely Spanish, from the director (J.A. Bayona) on down, the entire crew is Spanish. Last but certainly not least, despite the scenes of the tsunami, this is not a 'disaster movie' but instead it is a tribute to the human spirit. It is in the most devastating and impossible of situations such as this tsunami where we see that so many strangers from many different countries nevertheless find a way to communicate and help each other out. In that sense, this is a very uplifting movie.

"The Impossible" is a powerful movie that packs a lot of emotional wallop. I will admit to tearing up quite a few times in the movie. This movie is rated PG-13 but there is no way that I would take a 12 or 13 yr. old kid to see this. That aside, "The Impossible" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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