The Impossible (Lo Imposible)

As I sat in the darkened theater, preparing to watch The Impossible, I suddenly realized that I was very likely making a terrible mistake. This was going to be a movie about a mother and father and their three boys going through awful, heartbreaking tragedy.

Father of six that I am, with a dad’s easily stabbed heart, I wondered if I was going to make it through.

I did. So will you. This is an extraordinary film, made more so by remarkable performances and the fact that it’s true.

Here’s a trailer (warning, the music the trailer is set to is a very simple and lovely cover of U2′s “One” and you will likely weep slightly):

The deets:

Released sometime in late 2012

Written by Sergio G. Sanchez, based on the story by Maria Belon

Directed by Juan Antonia Bayona

Starring Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland, Samuel Joslin, and Oaklee Pendergast

Rated: PG-13

*     *     *     *     *

Story

Maria (Watts) and Henry (McGregor) are vacationing with their three young boys in Thailand, right near the beach. They’re from London and their boys are impossibly pure-looking. The oldest is Lucas (Holland), a grumpy and boundaries-testing early teen or pre-teen. The next is Thomas (Joslin– and my oldest is named Thomas– so resonance), a sweet but easily unnerved young boy. The youngest can’t be older than 4 or 5, and he is Simon (Pendergast) and is a frank and good lad.

The family is on vacation for Christmas. The day after Christmas, as the family frolics in the hotel’s pool, the horrific tidal wave strikes. When it does, Henry is gripping Thomas and Simon, while Maria is pressed against a wall and Lucas is standing on his own.

Maria surfaces first, clinging desperately to life in the torrent and soon finding Lucas. We discover with Lucas that Maria is sorely injured, and Lucas must step up to keep her alive. His young boy innocence completely shattered, he can’t even look at his mother’s injuries. They push their way to safety, whereupon Maria collapses. With the help of villagers, they end up in a hospital that is completely flooded (sorry) with patients.

They are convinced that Henry, Thomas, and Simon have been killed.

Terrible and wonderful things happen in the hospital. Some wonderful things are terrible.

We fade to Henry’s legs as he finds one of his family’s toys. He’s searching and injured. He has the two youngest. He has to make a horrifying decision based on faith and trust.

No punches are pulled, no superfluous drama occurs (except perhaps the woman in shock who stargazes), but the family somehow comes together. It is impossible beyond description, but it is true.

We know it’s true; we know it’s going to happen. It’s still nearly impossible to not shout at Lucas to JUST TURN AROUND!

Simon, the dearest little boy, saves everyone. You will love how this is done. If you’re a parent, you will cry large tears. You might even do this if you’re not a parent.

Critique

The story is thin and offers nothing special beyond the fact that it’s true. We know the start and the end. We know the opening half of the first act is there to convince us this is a loving, devoted family with normal issues but that is very happy together. We know horrific events are going to transpire. We know a miraculous reunion will come to pass.

But this movie succeeds resoundingly for two reasons: an extraordinary cast with abilities that magnify each other and every attempt made to keep sentiment to a realistic level– keeping these people on the level of humans.

Naomi Watts does a great job portraying a mother who is trying not to give up after losing 3/4 of her family. Ewan McGregor is excellent, plumbing the depths of a father who is so close to completely broken but who must trust, trust, and trust some more. The scene on the phone is heart-rending.

But Tom Holland as Lucas– this boy can act. He has a great deal of experience on the musical stage, so you wouldn’t necessarily expect this boy to be able to act with subtle ability and strength. He is the main character and he should have received Oscar and other award recognition. His resolve, love, stark terror, near-paralyzing grief, and honesty carry this film along beautifully.

What a lovely movie that does great justice to an extremely blessed family. It does not whitewash the horror, does not act as if God determined that these people should live and others die, does not pass judgment. Some overly artistic interpretation in some scenes is overlookable.

This is a great movie experience.

Content warnings: There are scenes of extreme injury, as well as a few entirely non-sexual shots of a woman’s breasts.

Writing: 4          Acting: 5          Overall: 4.5

It would be impossible for me to become a famous reviewer if you didn’t share this review with your friends. I’ve made it easy for you– just click below.

Also, did you see this movie? What did you think? Does Naomi Watts deserve the Oscar?

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The Lion King

We watched The Lion King as a family and I shall now review it. Let me start by saying I’d forgotten how funny it was, how openly superstitious it was, and how snarky modern Hollywood animated fare has become.

Here’s a preview to remind you:

Now the deets:

Released June 24, 1994

Written by Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts and with contributions by 27 OTHER PEOPLE

Directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff

Starring: Matthew Broderick, James Earl Jones, Nathan Lane, Jeremy Irons, Ernie Sabella, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Moira Kelly, Whoopi Goldberg, Robert Guillaume, Rowan Atkinson, Cheech Marin, and Niketa Calame

Rated: G

*     *     *     *     *

The Lion King is a phenomenally successful film, as you very likely know. I first saw it in Portuguese, during my mission service in Brazil.

Story

In brief, The Lion King is the story of a brash lion prince cub named Simba (Taylor Thomas as a cub and Broderick as an adult), who is eager to rule so he can do whatever he wants, but who is betrayed by his uncle Scar (Irons) and runs away, fearing for his life and guilt-ridden over the heroic death of his father. Simba is not to blame for his father’s death, although he is very gullible and is far too prone to displace guilt, but he’s a cub too.

After leaving, Simba takes up with two goofballs, a meerkat named Timon (Lane) and a smelly warthog named Pumbaa (Sabella). Simba adopts the lifestyle of these two carefree spirits, which they’ve dubbed ‘Hakuna Matata,’ essentially meaning no worries or problems. This helps Simba bury his guilt for a while, but when his childhood friend shows up, a series of events happens that convinces him to return to bring prosperity back to the savanna and Pride Rock.

A wide variety of side characters populates this movie, with Zazu (Atkinson) acting as a stuffy bird adviser to the king, Rafiki (Guillaume) acting as a mystic baboon who is a little Yoda-like, and Shenzi (Goldberg) and Banzai (Cheech Marin) as stupid and funny, but also vicious hyenas.

Plenty of laughs and heart-touching moments ensue, as well as some nicely done action scenes.

Critique

It’s sometimes hard to find fault with a film that uses so many archetypes and borrows so much from other iconic films and stories in such an effective way. Obviously, with Simba, you have the very classic hero’s journey, populated by a mentor, a lover, and friends. You also have liberal borrowing from Star Wars, Hamlet, and a great deal of mythology and mysticism. The stakes are high, the characters are sympathetic, and the voice acting is great and at times a revelation.

Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Matthew Broderick do a very nice job lending personality to a Simba who at times adheres too closely to archetype. Nala, Simba’s childhood friend and future mate, is the catalyst for his adulthood change, but she is a bit too much of a plot device. I wanted more from her character.

Timon and Pumbaa, of course, steal the film. Nathan Lane is miraculously good, and Sabella as Pumbaa’s voice is a riot. These two characters lend humorous relief to the intense emotional and physical battles in the movie.

So with an solid emotional payoff, a simple and straightforward storyline that doesn’t muck about, and excellent voice performances, along with very nice, clean animation, it’s no wonder The Lion King is touted as the number one animated film of all time.

Sure, the plot’s predictable, but it’s also pretty iconic. Yes, the characters are very familiar, but that helps us sympathize.

And of course the music is effectively evocative. It won an Oscar, after all.

All in all, The Lion King deserves its place at the top of Disney’s pantheon. With enough adventure, determination, hilarity, heroism, and vivid animation to keep any kid enraptured and inspired, it’s a great family show, too.

Content warnings: some intense fighting, a sad death.

Writing: 4.5          Acting: 5          Overall: 4.5

You know I’m right about this movie, but if you must, feel free to compare my review with those on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Reader, you are my reader and the one true reader. Remember who you are. Remember to share this review.

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