Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Video review: "The Impossible"

A semi-fictionalized account of the 2004 tsunami that swept across the southeast Asia coastline, claiming nearly a quarter-million lives, “The Impossible” is a spectacle of computer-generated effects and big human emotions.

Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor play Maria and Henry, a British couple vacationing in Thailand with their three sons when the tidal wave hits their seaside resorts. Their family separated by the enormous power of nature, the splintered factions struggle to survive and find out if the rest of their clan is still alive.

Maria is a doctor, so she immediately knows that the injuries she has suffered are life-threatening if she doesn’t get medical help soon. Her 12-year-old, Lucas (a terrific Tom Holland), must switch from antagonist preteen to brave protector, as the caretaker role gradually shifts from mother to son.

Meanwhile, Henry is trapped between caring for their youngest boys (Oaklee Pendergast and Samuel Joslin) and searching for his missing wife and firstborn. Completely unarmed for this ordeal both emotionally and logistically – he doesn’t even have a shirt or shoes – Henry is the passive everyman who must rise to the occasion.

The film, made by a pair of Spanish filmmakers based on the tale of a real Spanish family, doesn’t attempt to look at the broader impact of the tsunami, focusing instead on the drama of a clan of Westerners. It may not be fair to ignore the plight of hundreds of thousands of native people killed in the disaster, but it does make for a very effective movie drama.

It didn’t get much play here in the U.S., but this international tale is universally affecting.

Extra features are decent in quality, if not quantity. There is an audio commentary track by the filmmakers and producers, a few deleted scenes, and two making-of featurettes focusing on the casting and production of “The Impossible.



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