Oscar®Oscar® Nominee for Best Actress in a leading role
Movie Review

The Impossible

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense realistic disaster sequences, including disturbing injury images and brief nudity.

Reviewed by: John Decker
CONTRIBUTOR

Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Family
Genre:
Action History Thriller Drama
Length:
1 hr. 54 min.
Year of Release:
2012
USA Release:
December 4, 2012 (festival)
December 21, 2012 (exclusive engagements begin)
DVD: April 23, 2013
Copyright, Summit Entertainment click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Summit Entertainment

being caught in a major catastrophe (natural disaster)

2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami (off-site)

survival / protecting your family

FEAR, Anxiety and Worry—What does the Bible say? Answer

Pain and suffering

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer

Does God feel our pain? Answer

ORIGIN OF BAD—How did bad things come about? Answer

Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer


father son relationship

being separated from family

mother son relationship

Thailand (off-site)

Featuring: Ewan McGregorHenry
Naomi WattsMaria
Geraldine Chaplin
Tom Holland … Lucas
Marta Etura
Dominic Power … Tourist near orchid
Samuel Joslin … Thomas
more »
Director: Juan Antonio Bayona—“The Orphanage”
Producer: Apaches Entertainment
Telecinco Cinema
more »
Distributor: Summit Entertainment

“Nothing is more powerful than the human spirit.”

Why would I start a review for a film that possesses many qualities by telling the potential audiences that it has two scenes of short female upper frontal nudity? It’s because that’s how the film starts—within minutes we are introduced to a quick glimpse of Maria’s undressed top as she dresses. The other instance occurs after the initial devastation, when Maria realizes that the strap on her top has broken. It’s a little longer of a hold this time, and I’m thinking that the artist wanted to convey something about the human condition. She is cut and bruised, her beauty is torn down. I am given the impression that we see this woman’s nakedness first in a glamorous light and then in a dim one, to take us emotionally from our high place of health and beauty to that dark place where tragedy awakes us and our figures are more plain. Life is more plain. This is certainly the job of a film about such devastation. However, the story is so well told. Why the showing of nakedness when the rest of the film is fairly clean? I’ll leave the unraveling of Hollywood’s ways for you to answer. Each of today’s living generations, old to young, will only benefit from thinking this through. This painting didn’t need an aspect of nudity and having it didn’t help move the story.

NUDITY—Why are humans supposed to wear clothes? Answer

To finish the topic of the human body for this story, there are quite a few bathing suits, which are natural to the location, and I believe there is a naked man walking down the street at one point,but he is far from the camera, and I did not make this part out well—I think that’s what was intended by the shot. There are also long-shots of naked (dead) bodies and perhaps more nudity prior to a surgery.

There is no cursing, save “oh my g_d” being shouted three times. There is some affectionate actor husband-and-wife kissing. There is no violence but that which the earth gives. Under the circumstances, it’s fairly graphic—drowning, cuts, gouges, and a lot of blood.

“The Impossible” is a film about a family torn apart and dying. One moment they are on an island vacation, and the next they are subjects of a cruel, natural disaster. It is based on a real story that started December 26th, 2004 when the Indian Ocean tsunami hit. It is about a western family and their struggle for survival amid horrid devastation. It is uplifting, but heavy.

The cinematic content of the film is sufficiently engaging, delivering perhaps more than one would expect from a film about such tragedy. In fact, as I think of it, it may well be to me the most cinematically intriguing film of its genre, period. Cinematographer Oscar Faura’s camera shots are advanced, well thought out, not overdone and bring us into the scene, rather than into the camera. I would make one exception to that statement with a flashback scene at the end, which was a little showy and awkward. This film portrays what this family went through very well. It made emotional impressions on me that I believe will last.

The film sticks with me. It reminds me of how delicate our health is, how we can be brought to dust so quickly. Those may be typical themes for the genre, but this film does it quite well. As for the story, some may find it to be somewhat narrow. It’s basically about this one family’s plight amidst an event that claimed, according to about.com, approximately 245,000 lives. In one sense, that narrowness is simply a way to tell a story, a certain type of story, and for that I’ll give the film credit. If it had a more complex weave, including more about lives of other travelers or even locals, some value could have been added. We are spoiled by high production costs, are we not? The massive effort that went into the making of this film could not be easily conveyed. The acting is excellent. The scenes usually move at a fast enough pace for our modern tastes. The characters are endearing.

I will go so far as to say that this film will probably stand out to me as the best film for its subject matter (hope amid devastation, love can be a thousand pound word) ever made, and my recommendation of this film would come ever so high, were it not for some of the first mentioned, unnecessary elements.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—It’s too bad this Spanish-produced film is mostly getting a limited release, because it’s a great example of what average Hollywood movies could be, i.e., emotionally potent, minus extra baggage that detracts from the experience. The acting coming from every “member of the family” is strong. Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts are heartbreaking, and the child actors are all very believable. I want to emphasize “believable,” because most child actors over do their acting, while these are natural. The script, while it comes off as schmaltzy at times, gets all of the basic things right. Every character has an arc. The parents come to realize how helpless they can be to protect their children in that situation, while the children must become mature very quickly.

Lucas (Tom Holland) has a particularly strong character arc. He goes from being inwardly focused and selfish to becoming aware of his surroundings, realizing that he is much luckier than most people there, and has a moral obligation to help them. I also want to applaud the location shooting in Spain and Thailand. It greatly adds to the authenticity and rawness of what’s happening.

Speaking of raw, be aware that there are numerous instances of wounds injuries that may not be for the faint of heart. There some prominent lessons that come out of this film, namely: Never take your family for granted. There is ALWAYS someone worse off than you. Young people are capable of great things, all they need is guidance from loving parents. On a side note, if you are planning on seeing this movie, don’t watch the full-length trailer before-hand. It basically runs through the whole plot from beginning to finish.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Dan Dorland, age 19 (USA)
Positive—Everyone MUST see this great movie; it’s an amazing story of the human will to survive. The acting is phenomenal; you truly feel like you are living this experience with them and come out exhausted, BUT it also makes you realize how little you capture in a news report of catastrophe of this magnitude and the reality of what really happened with that Tsunami. It brings home the fact that this happened to real people whose lives were forever changed in a moment. It also speaks a powerful message of how love can keep a family struggling to survive for one another. All the actors should win awards for their portrayals.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Dottie, age 60+ (USA)
Positive—An excellent movie. I agree that some especially emotional parts were suspect and left me wondering if they really happened that way (e.g., the family reunion). But the acting was excellent. Naomi Watts did an exceptional job and was very believable. My wife and I disagreed with the father’s decision to leave his boys and continue searching for his wife. But, assuming it really happened that way, it underscores the fact that people make good and bad decisions in the moment and must trust in God that they are doing His will.

A reader, below, lamented all the blood and devastation. I would think this is what one would expect with a disaster of this nature, so it comes with the territory. I didn’t find any of it offensive, but rather a part of life. I was especially touched with the story early on of the local villager rescuing the mother and getting her to the hospital. This is someone the mother may never meet again, and yet he saved her life. Brings to mind: “Whatever you have done for the least of these, you have done for Me.”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Jeff, age 50 (USA)
Positive—Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts are two of the most talented actors in film today, and they’re totally believable performances anchor this compelling film about a family in peril.
My Ratings: Moral rating: none / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Morris, age 48 (USA)
Positive—I’m truly appalled at all the reviews harping over the brief nudity shown, they’re truly missing the entire point of the entire film. This was such an incredible movie, and it’s raw kick in the teeth of the reality that these people had to face truly made me take a step back and be grateful for the truly blessed life I have and don’t deserve. If we, as “Christians,” can’t take a step out of our G-rated comfort zones and witness the reality of the lives that people (who Christ died for) went through and continue to go through, I’m afraid we are incapable of truly living out the lives we were sent for. How can we reach the world and help the needy if we can’t stomach that?

What if missionaries went to third world countries with blindfolds in order to “shield” themselves from “stumbling” over those in desperation? That’s not what Jesus sent us for! Pitiful. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Christina, age 18 (USA)
Positive—I thought the movie was so real and encouraging. I mean to see the courage of this family and the kind soul of the mother really was awesome. There is not a lot of foul language that I can remember and not a lot of unnecessary cr*p. There is one very small quick front breast shot of the mother (not tasteless). For Christian men—if you’re like me, you struggle with lust, so if you plan on watching the movie and would like to avoid that scene, I can pin point the moment for you to look away. This shouldn't be a spoiler, but when the mother and oldest son are walking, not long after the disaster the boy looks down to see the mothers leg is injured and RIGHT after he recognizes that his mothers leg is injured if I can remember right he says “mom” to get her attention when she turns around—THAT is the nude shot.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Danny, age 30 (USA)
Positive—Thumbs Up! Life is all about taking a firm step forward each passing second. I would recommend this movie to each and every living human being who would want to know their potentiality and to strengthen their inner being no matter what circumstances might come their way—hats off to the movie crew—because the movie did strengthen what’s inside of me and the movie was extremely super inspiring.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Gerald, age 24 (Sri Lanka)
Neutral
Neutral—The film was as close as possible to the reality of a major disaster than I have ever witnessed. It opened my eyes up to the many situations, emotions, and realities that the average person never takes into account when we look at the news about a disaster natural or unnatural. In that respect, this film was awesome, real, and on point.

What I could have done without is seeing the naked man walking down the street, the cleavage, and even worst the main actress, at one point, has an extremely close frontal exposure, and it is during a time that it’s not expected, so there is no opportunity to avoid. For all of the Godly men that would like to maintain pure before God, I have to still periodically pray off that image. For a heads up, this scene happens right after the son sees the huge gash in the mother’s leg and goes to tell her about it, and she turns around, not knowing that part of her shirt is missing.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Mwest, age 37 (USA)
Negative
Negative—This was a horrible movie! It was absolute torture watching it! Sure, the family survives in the end, but watching them almost die the whole time was TORTURE! I wish I had not watched this movie. I felt very negative and sad for many hours afterward. Yes, it’s a true story, and, wow, they survived, but like over 230,000 people didn’t, and this movie was about the people that weren’t even of this country, all of those people that died. I am all for an inspiring end, but watching the woman almost die the WHOLE time, it was gruesome, LOTS of blood or horrific scenes, with half of her leg being ripped off. And they did a great job of making her look like death most of the movie; it was just horrible to watch. I felt like I actually went through it, it was so realistic.

I do NOT recommend this movie, and I watch a lot of movies and love movies. This was just too much torture to watch to get to the end story. It is a miracle that family found each other, but unless you want to actually feel like the torture of going through the Tsunami, don’t watch this movie. It was not worth the pain of watching it to get the happy part of them coming together at the end. Just know they survived; they made it… the end.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Samantha, age 38 (USA)
Negative—I was very excited to view this movie after reading the plot. The story line is very deep and gripping. However, my issue was with the nudity. I missed the 1st scene which was Naomi Watts side breast. The next scene I can’t believe, it was a full frontal of her breast. It was at a unexpected time, and you don’t have time to prepare for it. I would not recommend any Christian to see this just for the nudity. My husband and I double checked the rating, and it is PG-13. We gave up watching R rated movies for this purpose.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Renee, age 33 (USA)
Negative—I expected some scary scenes and maybe a little blood (through injuries) but not the bizarre nudity! What was UP with that? The mother’s bare breasts were shown—and even focused on—when she was horribly sick and injured. This movie was weird and twisted—and it SHOULDN'T have been so. The gore should have been less, as well.

I was saddened that no one in this family prayed for help from God. I feel like it missed the “mark” by a mile. It could have been a shining example of God’s mercy and provision in a tragic situation. Both thumbs down on this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Susan, age 51 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—This is a great movie. The message of family was amazing. To the negative reviewer who said that people dying made the movie un-enjoyable, how can you capture the pure devastation in a realistic way without people dying? Sometimes it good to have sad parts in a movie. It portrays reality. Tragedies happen. If all a movie is feel-good entertainment, it’s wishful thinking and unrealistic. Note: I watched it on ClearPlay (a filtering DVD player).
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Noah Gregory, age 15 (USA)
Positive—“The Impossible” is about a family who takes their Christmas vacation to Thailand and is caught in the 2004 tsunami, one of the worst natural catastrophes of all time. This is a real family’s true account of survival. When I went to see “The Impossible,” I expected it to be intense, but not as emotionally draining and overwhelming as it was.

The cinematography, special effects, direction, and acting were top notch. It was brutal and relentless, grabbing the audience by the throat and refusing to let go at any point in the film. This was far more graphic than I would have ever expected from a PG-13 rated film, but honestly if it were any less unsettling it wouldn’t have felt right or true. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Aliya Mcreynolds, age 15 (USA)

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