Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Impossible Review

The Impossible is one of the toughest films that I have ever had to watch. I was shell-shocked by its hard power and its unflinching portrayal of one of the most devastating events of the last century. I was shell-shocked by what it got away with for a PG-13 rating. I was shell-shocked by its special effects and sound, the way it portrays the terrifying experience of the tsunami. Walking into the theater, I expected a sentimental, Spielbergian drama that is intense and unflinching but at the same time, sentimental and uplifting. Honestly, I know people say that this movie is a uplifting story, but I felt completely different. By the end of the film, I was less uplifted, then I was depressed and shaken. The Impossible isn't a film that you watch but one you experience. You feel the pain, you feel the emotions, you feel the hope, you feel the despair. You feel the whole movie.

The film centers on Maria (Naomi Watts), a mother of three boys who takes a trip with her husband Henry (Ewan McGregor) and kids to Indonesia. They spend the first few days basking in paradise and enjoying themselves and their Christmas festivities. Then the tsunami hits and they are completely unaware that it is about to cause the devastation that it does. The family is seperated; Maria with her oldest son Lucas (Tom Holland) and Henry with the two youngest children. The first section of the film is spent with Maria as she goes through a graphic leg injury and reaches a survivor camp. Lucas stays by his mother but also helps other people out. The second half deals with Henry as he searches for Maria and Lucas.

The performances are strong but are overshadowed by the nature of the film. Naomi Watts is fierce and powerful and practically undergoes a full transformation into the role. Tom Holland is equally intense and focused as her son and is the symbol of good in the middle of all the destruction. Those are honestly the two main actors in the film but McGregor is also good.

One shocking thing about the film that doesn't have to do with its disturbing content is the special effects. They are grand and fully immerse you in the sheer terror and force of the event. What shocked me about it was the level of mastery and realism that was in special effects that were done on a small budget. This deserved an Oscar nomination.

My one main problem with this film is how directed JA Bayona handles the aftermath. He isn't discreet and all the scenes in hospitals end up being pretty graphic at some point. And that is OK. Being graphic is a necessity in this film. But how many times can you scream and cry and give looks of pain in one scene. Bayona doesn't seem to show the horrifying nature of the catastrophe respect at times and often exploits it. He dwells on the graphic nature so much that it just becomes overwhelming at times. It is just too much. You don't need to focus on it constantly. Focus a bit more on how the people relate with each other and The Impossible is a better film.

I can say that I recommend The Impossible, but I can't promise that you will get any enjoyment out of the film. It's a disturbing film to watch and one you won't necessarily want to watch again. But it is one of those films that is immersed in realism and makes you feel important for watching it. Like Saving Private Ryan or The Passion of the Christ, it is one of those films that makes you understand the situation better. But don't expect an uplifting film.

The Impossible is rated PG-13 for intense realistic disaster sequences including disturbing injury images throughout and brief nudity. I can't stress how intense and graphic this film is for a PG-13 rating. It pushes the limits and then some. I can honestly say that I don't recommend that children watch this movie, but I think that it would put into perspective real events like this for them. My recommended age for this film is 14 and up. I normally don't do this, but I feel that it is necessary for this film.

THE FINAL GRADE: B+                                           (7.8/10)



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