FilmReview

Film Review:
The Impossible

Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
Starring: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland
Genre: Drowning, not waving

Disaster films are a staple of the film industry. Wikipedia lists hundreds of them, all nicely categorised into sub-headings such as monsters, aliens, volcanoes, earthquakes and much more. A cavalcade of death and destruction, and nearly each of them a tale of survival against the odds.

Disaster films are a staple of the film industry. Wikipedia lists hundreds of them, all nicely categorised into sub-headings such as monsters, aliens, volcanoes, earthquakes and much more. A cavalcade of death and destruction, and nearly each of them a tale of survival against the odds.

The Impossible is no exception to the rule, but it differs in important ways.

For one thing, it’s a true story of survival, in this case of 2004’s Boxing Day tsunami. Every disaster has its miraculous tales of survival. Babies are often pulled out of earthquake rubble eight days after the earthquake, for example. That a family of five can be smashed by a tsunami and separated and then not only survive but find each other is even more remarkable.

Secondly, The Impossible is actually very good. Disaster films may make great use of computer-generated special effects (Independence DayDeep ImpactTwisterTitanicThe Day After Tomorrow, etc.) but the disaster in all its “glory” is usually the centrepiece of the film. This is just as true of the clunky B-grade classics of the 1960s-80s: The Poseiden Adventure, The Towering Inferno, Airport, Airport 2, Airport 3 and so on.

The tsunami sequence in The Impossible is as breathtaking and horrifying as it is visually and technically impressive. But if anything, The Impossible goes beyond the bounds of other disaster films by featuring great acting, tear-jerking reunions, and a solid storyline that doesn’t rely on special effects and superstar tales of heroism.

Sure, in the context of thousands of people dying, one family’s survival might seem irrelevant, but they were surrounded by and participated in thousands of little acts of heroism by tourists and locals alike, and that is a truly remarkable thing.

 

Rating: Four sobs

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