Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole I. Ashland
Markus Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Rated PG-13 for intense realistic disaster sequences, including disturbing injury images and brief nudity
Now playing at Century 20 Oakridge Mall in San Jose, California:
If the only objective of “The Impossible” was to make an entire theater full of grown adults cry, then MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! Based on the “true story” of a (Spanish?) family who survived (not a spoiler alert, only because this movie was seemingly made to be utterly predictable) the 2004 tsunami which hit South Asia, “The Impossible”, directed by Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage) in incredibly impressive fashion and containing fairly compelling performances from the likes of Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, would have been assuredly one of the best films of 2012 (and an Oscar contender) if only it wasn’t hampered by an overbearingly sappy script, with plotting worthy of The Lifetime Channel, from Sergio G. Sanchez.
While Sanchez’s plot development makes “The Impossible” one of the most predictable movies you will ever see, this aspect doesn’t actually hinder the film as much as one would expect. For one, during the initial act, the fact that audiences are fully aware of the impending doom, works as a form of suspense on the same level as a well crafted horror film would. Secondly, the payoff (which is drenched in predictability) during the climax, shockingly works immensely well due to a lot of help from a well choreographed sequence from Bayona. Furthermore, though this was truly a climax which everybody in the theater could and will see coming from a mile away, it is “impossible” to not be swept away (figuratively) in the moment; no matter how cynical a movie-goer you may be. As for the middle chunk of “The Impossible”, it rides that fine line between visual excellence and a forced “triumph of the human spirit” storyline, with the reoccurring theme of sappiness rearing its head again and again and once more, directly following the great climax with an eye rolling prolonged ending.
Side Note: Kudos to the director for not shying away from showing the most realistic depiction possible of the people who lived through and died during this tsunami. And by that I don’t just mean the violence and gruesomeness of people drowning and being impaled by large pieces of debris, but more so the amount of nudity, i.e. not going the American PG-13 rout of showing us tsunami victims who are cut up, arms broken and eyes popping out of their head, but with clothes still intact. With that said, while nothing in this film is gratuitous (aside from the gratuitous sappiness) how this movie passed without an R rating with the amount of Naomi Watts’ breasts shown, during a time when American parents are more afraid of their thirteen year old seeing a woman’s exposed nipple than a movie riddled with gun violence, is one of the most impressive things I’ve seen in an American distributed film in quite a while. In short, if you where planning on seeing this movie with your kids, then see this movie with your kids; a little breast never hurt anybody.
Final Thought: Though I still stand by my point that the overwhelmingly forced pathos throughout does drag this film down a bit, I will say “The Impossible” contains some of the most impressive visuals of 2012; just falling short of Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi”. But still the most overwhelming aspect that this film has going for it, is how eventually (and quite forcefully) it pulls at the heartstrings so much so, that much like those SPCA commercials, you won’t be able to help yourself but choose the emotional response of “that poor family”, rather than a rational one of “this isn’t that great of a movie”.
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