12/28/2012 02:11 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Popcorn Preview: The Impossible

Film: The Impossible (2012)
Cast includes: Naomi Watts (Fair Game), Ewan McGregor (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen), Tom Holland (The Secret World of Arrietty), Samuel Joslin, Oaklee Pendergast (Casualty)
Director: Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage)
Screenplay: Sergio G. Sánchez (The Orphanage)
Genre: Drama | Action (114 minutes)

"December 26th 2004: the deadliest tsunami in history hit the coast of Indonesia and Thailand. This is a true story." The roaring sound we hear could have been the tsunami, but it turns out to be the sound of the plane engines. Maria and Henry are worried about the mundane things of life... whether or not they remembered to set the alarm before they left. The flight is quite turbulent and Simon's scared... Lucas won't talk to him, so he wants to stay with Mommy and Daddy. "Lucas, you could try being a bit nicer to your brother," says Maria. "Everything scares him," say Lucas. Anyway, it's going to be a wonderful vacation. It's a brand new resort on the coast of Thailand. Their room opens right out to the ocean... it's absolutely paradise. After dinner on Christmas Eve, everyone releases paper lanterns to drift upward into the night sky. It's a full moon. Christmas night, Simon can't sleep after a busy day of scuba diving and beach activities. "Close your eyes and think of something nice," Maria urges him.

The 26th starts like any other day in paradise. There is no warning... a bit of rumbling... the birds are flying inland... and suddenly, there's a wall of water. Maria truly thinks she is dead. Afterward in the rush of water, she struggles to hold on to anything... until she realizes it is Lucas being swept by her in the raging waters. When Maria and Lucas finally manage to hold on to a tree trunk, it's the first time they've had a moment to look around. From where they are, it looks as if the whole world has imploded and they are the only survivors. "I'm scared," says Lucas. "I'm scared, too." When they finally find a place they can hang on for a while, they hear a child crying. Maria wants to help. "We can't risk it," says Lucas. "What if that boy was Simon or Thomas? You'd want someone to help them," says Maria. "Mom. Simon and Thomas are dead," shouts Lucas. It's the first moment they've been willing to think about anything but their own survival.

By some miracle Simon, Thomas and Dad aren't dead, although they've had a rough time, too. The movie takes us on a harrowing journey of survival and humanity in the face of a disaster so devastating it truly looks like the end of the world. Young Spanish director, Juan Antonio Bayona, heard about a radio interview with the real-life Maria and was fascinated by the story. He involved her in the project right from the beginning... possibly one of the reasons the film reenactment feels so real. Beyond that, the production design and cinematography are breathtaking. Add to that, a remarkable cast and remarkable performances. It's a remarkable movie in every way. Movies about the end of the world are not uncommon, but this one is every bit as devastating... and it really happened. One family's story can't possibly capture what everyone experienced. But in the face of a real-life apocalypse, every life saved is a miracle.

4 popped kernels (Scale: 0-4)
True story about a family of 5 that survived the 2004 tsunami in Thailand

Popcorn Profile
Rated: PG-13
Audience: Young adults
Distribution: Mainstream wide release
Mood: Neutral
Tempo: Cruises comfortably
Visual Style: Unvarnished realism
Character Development: Engaging
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Pure entertainment & Timely topic

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