HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Impossible
HTS Overall Score:87
I’ve seen many a disaster film in my time. Some of them belabored with the words “based on a true story” and others without those pesky encumbrances. There’s usually two cliché’s that the film fall under. There will either be this giant, end of the world level of panic with everyone trying to rush to safety, intertwined with heartbreaking stories of sacrifice and survival mean to serve as Oscar bait. Or two, the plucky hero braves incredible odds, usually fighting with the gorgeous looking scientist and ending up forming some form of romantic relationship along the way. As you can guess, “based on a true story” usually ends up being a “there was someone named something similar to a character in this movie” scenario. While I understand that there is always some dramatic license that needs to be taken with a true story, more often than not, very little of the film is anything REMOTELY like original tale. As a result, I’ve become a bit cynical with said disaster tales and “based on a true story” tales in general, to say the least. Strangely enough, we have here, a story that stays close to the original and defies most of the cliché’s, and in doing so creates an emotionally gripping tale that is pleasing to both the truth and to cinema goers alike.
The Bennett family is on a vacation to Thailand during the Christmas holidays in the year 2004. Henry (Ewan McGregor), and his wife Maria (Naomi Watts) are there with their 3 young children, Lucas, Thomas and Simon. As fate would have it they are there just as one of THE largest tsunami’s in history strike the Asian seaboard. Swept away together, Maria and Lucas survive the first blast of the tsunami alone and frightened. Struggling to make it to land, Maria, injured from head to toe, and Lucas limp their way inland. Picked up by some Thai natives they are rushed to the closest hospital where Maria is put in critical care. Fighting every step of the way, Maria hangs on to her frail life with every ounce of strength she has, for if she’s gone, Lucas has no one left to take care of him.
Unbeknownst to them, Henry and the other two children made it out with just a few cuts and bruises. Sending the two boys on ahead of him to the mountains, Henry stays at the beach for as long as he can searching for his wife and oldest boy. As fate would have it, he becomes separated from the two children in the city and not only has to search for his wife, but the two children that survived with him as well. As his search net tightens down all five family members are being brought in closer and closer to a tear jerking finale.
As said before, I’m hardened to the plight of most disaster movies due to the amount of dramatic license taken, or sheer cheese of the scenario. “The Impossible” sucked me in from the first fifteen minutes of runtime and didn’t let go till the end. The sheer visceral intensity was enough to keep you on the edge of your seat, but mix that with the raw realism of the scenario and I was just enthralled. There is of course a little bit of Hollywood cheese in a few scenes, but that’s to be expected. For 95% of the movie every scene, every bit of agony that this family went through was believable and well within reason. The “near miss” scene in the last act of the film had me a bit trepidatious as to the direction the film was going, but was so short lived that I’m willing to forgive that slight bit of Hollywood flair.
All of the actors did an excellent job in portraying the grief and terror that must certainly permeate every fiber of a survivor’s being in a situation like that; However, Naomi watts just stole the show. As I mentioned in my “Les Miserables” review, raw emotion is one of the most difficult task for an actor to pull off. You either run the risk of appearing too over the top or you don’t’ show enough. Like Fantine, Naomi played her characters heart on her sleeve. Every bit of agony, every terrified feeling was laid bare for all the audience to see. Shown in such as visceral and gut wrenching scenario, Maria drew you in and wouldn’t let you go. Every minute of the film, you’re begging for her not to die of her injuries, due to the sheer likeability, and incredible amount of pain this mother was going through to survive for her child.
I was really impressed with the lack of grandstanding done in the film. Even though we are focusing one single family in this giant tragedy, the director was able to weave in other characters and offer a sort of humble respect and honoring for the suffering that was happening on around the family as well. Even though the story is a dramatic re-enactment, this did happen to an incredible amount of people and their suffering is not those of side characters, but those of real people. Of families that lost loved ones, some found, some never to be found in this lifetime and I’m glad that director Juan Antonio Bayona gave credence to the pain and suffering of those affected rather than turning the story into a Hollywood spectacle (or at least any more than one can expect in a non-documentary film).
Rated PG-13 for intense realistic disaster sequences, including disturbing injury images and brief nudity
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=11604[/img]I was quite surprised with “The Impossible” getting a 2.35:1 AVC encode. Most dramas tend to stray closer to the 1.85:1 aspect ratio instead of the scope framing mode, but with such luscious scenery and the full sweeping array of the disastrous visuals, it worked quite well. A beautifully stunning picture for the most part, “The Impossible” is given a slightly diffused and sometimes soft appearance on film, which allows for an almost surreal feel at times. For the most part, Detail is through the roof. Dirt and grime is rendered flawlessly on the destroyed and weary survivors and you can see every twig and fiber of debris along the way with unparalleled detail. Long shots are beautiful and just rife with rich greens and brows and yellows. The Thai countryside is a beautiful arena and with such sweeping scope shots, we’re allowed an eyeful of beauty and destruction with every turn of the camera. Black level is excellent and shadow detail is near flawless. The film was devoid of any common artifacting or macroblocking to the naked eye. If it weren’t for the intentional softness that seemed to come back every once in a while, I’d give this one a perfect score.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=11606[/img]The audio is no slouch either. Rippling with thunderous LFE from the get go, we’re completely saturated in the sheer enveloping power of a tsunami. The dialogue is very clean and clear with the front soundstage being used quite actively. The effects were loud and powerful, but the dynamic range was never so wide as to overpower the dialogue at any time. The only times when I had a problem hearing any vocals was due to the accents mixed with the gasping of an injured person. The surrounds were used well, but for some reason I just didn’t feel as if they were used to their full potential. Something in the surround levels made the rear speakers not as enveloping as I would expect for a disaster movie. The LFE was used liberally, as one would expect in a movie about a tsunami. From the moment the airplane touched down in Thailand at the start of the film I knew my subs were going to be working overtime. My only SLIGHT complaint with the LFE had to do with the fact that it felt a little one note at times. Overall, an excellent track with only a minor flaw or two to bring it down.
• Directors Commentary
• Casting "The Impossible"
• Realizing "The Impossible"
• Deleted Scenes
• Theatrical Trailier
Most disaster movies are an unrealistic mess from beginning to end, a plethora of clichés, pitting humans against each other to survive. It’s refreshing to see a film deal with such terrible circumstances in a way that defies the clichés and focuses on the humanity, both weaknesses and strengths that allow them to survive an ordeal like that. Beautifully shot and beautifully acted, “The Impossible” is a definite recommendation from me as both a demo disc and as an inspiring film with true heart. My ONLY real gripe that I had………….the fact that Naomi Watts got snubbed at the awards for a display that rivaled Fantine in “Les Miserables” in both raw intensity and effort displayed. A truly overlooked role in my humble opinion.
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts
Directed by: Juan Antonio Bayano
Written by: Sergio G. Sanchez
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 114 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: April 23rd, 2013
Buy The Impossible Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It!
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