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The Impossible

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Intense natural disaster drama starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, based on the true story of one family’s harrowing experience when the Indian Ocean tsunami struck Thailand on Boxing Day 2004. The giant wave ultimately claimed 230,000 lives. From the director of The Orphanage. Maria (Watts), Henry (McGregor) and their three sons begin their winter vacation in More

Intense natural disaster drama starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, based on the true story of one family’s harrowing experience when the Indian Ocean tsunami struck Thailand on Boxing Day 2004. The giant wave ultimately claimed 230,000 lives. From the director of The Orphanage.

Maria (Watts), Henry (McGregor) and their three sons begin their winter vacation in tropical Thailand. But on the morning of December 26th, as the family relaxes around the pool after their Christmas festivities the night before, a terrifying tsunami hits without warning. The film then chronicles the aftermath, as Maria - badly injured - and her oldest son (Tom Holland) search for help and the rest of their family.

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Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona (feature debut)

Starring Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts, Geraldine Chaplin, Tom Holland, Marta Etura, Olivia Jackson

Rated M, contains adult themes | 1:53 | Action, Drama, True Story |

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Flicks REVIEW

By Rebecca Barry Hill

It's been less than a decade since the Boxing Day tsunami that took more than 230,000 lives in South East Asia. Reliving it at the movies seems, initially,... Read more

It's been less than a decade since the Boxing Day tsunami that took more than 230,000 lives in South East Asia. Reliving it at the movies seems, initially, tasteless. How could a piece of entertainment possibly do justice to such a horrific event? But The Impossible rises to the occasion in what must be the most powerful, harrowing and moving disaster film ever made. Zeroing in on one family’s true-life horror, it spares the audience little of their grisly despair, to the point where viewers will find themselves on the verge of trauma as the war-like aftermath unfolds.

Not many films have the ability to shock these days but perhaps because Kiwis are no more impervious to natural disasters than anyone else, The Impossible strikes a nerve. Much of this is down to the impressive production: coastal Thai villages are wiped out, (miniatures were destroyed, not that you’d realise it), aerial shots show the mass devastation, and underwater footage recreates the turmoil of bodies colliding with debris. It is also largely to the credit of Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage), and scriptwriters Sergio G Sanchez and Maria Belon, whose raw, non-sentimental handling of the story leaves the emoting to the music. They communicate a sense of both the epic scale of the disaster and intimacy during the characters’ isolated moments.

Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor and Tom Holland, along with youngsters Samuel Joslin and Oaklee Pendergast, play the family on which the story is based and are all masterfully genuine in their anguish. At times the film claws desperately at something to warm to, using the prevailing spirit of goodwill among those affected as a kind of breather for an otherwise emotionally pummeled audience. It’s often so horrific it’s almost impossible to watch, and you may find yourself wondering why you are. But Bayona also lends it a sense of grace, making the film, in equal measure, upsetting and uplifting, hellish and heart- warming. Its effects will linger long after you leave the theatre.

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THE PEOPLE’S REVIEWS (7 Ratings, 8 Reviews)
Enjoyed with reservations... 3/5 stars.

By Red Reddington

The disaster part of the movie (when the tsumani hits) is very intense - in fact the whole movie features a lot of pain - its hard to watch. But something feels... Read more

The disaster part of the movie (when the tsumani hits) is very intense - in fact the whole movie features a lot of pain - its hard to watch. But something feels slightly bad taste about it... a true-disaster movie - entertainment about the real death of hundreds of thousands of people. Dunno... harrowing, gripping film nonetheless. Hide
A Wave of Emotions 4/5 stars.

By bingo

This film, The Impossible, brought my family and I close to tears. The acting from the leads, including the children, were great, adding to the believability of... Read more

This film, The Impossible, brought my family and I close to tears. The acting from the leads, including the children, were great, adding to the believability of the film. The Impossible is very intense in parts, especially the wave scene, however I felt as though it was never of bad taste. This is a film that is based on a true story of survival in the Thailand Tsunami and if the film wasn't as real/raw as it is, I feel, they would be treating the 'true story' selling point of the film as a bit of a joke. The tsunami effected thousands, if not millions of people's lives and this film will effect everyone who watches it. This film will bring you to tears, it was near impossible not to cry. If you get the chance to visit the cinema in the near future go see this film, it will affect you, believe me. Four Stars Hide
Impossible to predict the ending 4/5 stars.

By Lee Warn

The Impossible Much like 'Titanic' there's no need for any spoilers, because you've already seen everything in the trailers. The acting was to be expected... Read more

The Impossible Much like 'Titanic' there's no need for any spoilers, because you've already seen everything in the trailers. The acting was to be expected (outstanding) and the special effects were amazing. Obviously its the same as your all thinking, family, wave, seperation, disaster, stuff, ending... Suppose its a good "stay home its wet kinda movie" and I'm certain if you go with friends there'l be some great after movie converstaions from this. Genre : drama 4/5 : Its an amazingly good film, however just not my cuppa tea, bit too dramatic, still great watch. Hide
Uncomfortably Eurocentric but well made

By Lorraine

Hmmm, as one reviewer said, it's about a rich white family and their spoiled holiday...not the hundred of thousands whose lives were devasted. But it does give... Read more

Hmmm, as one reviewer said, it's about a rich white family and their spoiled holiday...not the hundred of thousands whose lives were devasted. But it does give an understanding about what a tsunami is actually like, which is makes for a powerful drama visuals. It's a well made film, but why couldn't they be true to the story and have a black-haired Spanish family rather than blonde Brits? My 15 year old daughter likes horror films and watches plenty but said this was the scariest film she ever has seen. Hide
Quite incredible 5/5 stars.

By David

It's true, I do love disaster films & am very biased towards them but no-one can ignore the fact this is an amazingly powerful film. Both in terms of grueling... Read more

It's true, I do love disaster films & am very biased towards them but no-one can ignore the fact this is an amazingly powerful film. Both in terms of grueling realism, incredible effects/production & outstanding acting. Naomi left me speechless, sweeping like a child & was so believable I could feel her pain. It's about time the Academy recognize her for this amazing talent. It'll be a crime if she doesn't receive the Oscar. All in all this movie is a testament of the human spirit in times of peril & serves as an equally beautiful & devastating tribute to what this family endured like so many other tourists holidaying in Thailand on 26/12/04. Lest we forget Hide
Heart breaking 5/5 stars.

By Coral Tombleson

I had to see this movie because it touches close to heart - my husband and I had just returned from Thailand when the Boxing day Tsunami hit in 2004. We had sat... Read more

I had to see this movie because it touches close to heart - my husband and I had just returned from Thailand when the Boxing day Tsunami hit in 2004. We had sat stunned in front of the telly watching the footage on the News - all the places and beautiful islands we had just visited - wiped out completely. So having been there, visited the wonderful kind Thai people, immersed ourselves in their culture, indulged in their delicious cuisine, swam in their beautiful sea - we cried throughout this film remembering the devastation and loss of so many lives. This movie reminds us that life can be wiped out in an instant, so love life, your family and friends. Hide
Seen Them All 5/5 stars.

By Random One

This movie has a wow factor, and it puts you right there gasping for breath along with the characters. Naomi puts on a far more harrowing performance in The... Read more

This movie has a wow factor, and it puts you right there gasping for breath along with the characters. Naomi puts on a far more harrowing performance in The Impossible than Jennifer in Silver Linings (Even though I loved that movie too), it's a shame she didn't get the Best Actress gong. I highly recommend this movie for what it is, based on a true story, it is superb. Hide
WOW 5/5 stars.

By Glynn Babington

This was quite different to what I expected from the trailer. The real break through performance is from Tom Holland the lead in this film, I had been... Read more

This was quite different to what I expected from the trailer. The real break through performance is from Tom Holland the lead in this film, I had been expecting Naomi or Ewan to be in the leading role and while they were superb, Tom really carried the film. The true story is very touching, I feel the film touches on the tragedy in a powerful but sensitive way, one of my top movies for the year! Hide
CRITICS REVIEW

81% of critics recommend (RottenTomatoes.com)

AV Club (USA)

Confirms that Bayona is a major talent, with a skill for constructing sequences that build tension as masterfully as Steven Spielberg did in his '70s heyday.

Confirms that Bayona is a major talent, with a skill for constructing sequences that build tension as masterfully as Steven Spielberg did in his '70s heyday. Hide
Chicago Sun-Times (Roger Ebert)

Here is a searing film of human tragedy.

Here is a searing film of human tragedy. Hide
Empire (UK)

This rousing, superbly acted, no-holds-barred melodrama is a mighty feat of physical filmmaking.

This rousing, superbly acted, no-holds-barred melodrama is a mighty feat of physical filmmaking. Hide
Guardian (UK)

Not especially complex, and not subtle, but there is judgment and intelligence in the simple idea of survival being the most agonising thing, and making... Read more

Not especially complex, and not subtle, but there is judgment and intelligence in the simple idea of survival being the most agonising thing, and making survivor guilt the psychological aftershock of a shattering and irreparable blow. Hide
Hollywood Reporter

A tremendously realistic disaster movie has an intense emotional payoff.

A tremendously realistic disaster movie has an intense emotional payoff. Hide
Little White Lies (UK)

Kind of offensive when you think about it.

Kind of offensive when you think about it. Hide
Los Angeles Times

It is the kind of ode to the human spirit that you hope comes along, and not just during the holiday season.

It is the kind of ode to the human spirit that you hope comes along, and not just during the holiday season. Hide
New York Times

There is a troubling complacency and a lack of compassion... less an examination of mass destruction than the tale of a spoiled holiday.

There is a troubling complacency and a lack of compassion... less an examination of mass destruction than the tale of a spoiled holiday. Hide
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