Tag Archives: Review

The Impossible

Today I review a 2012 film set during and after the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004. Based on a true story, it’s sure to tear at your heartstrings…

Directed by: J.A. Bayona
Written by: Sergio G. Sánchez
Starring: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland
Runtime: 113 minutes
Age Certificate: 12
Release: October 11th, 2012

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:
Boxing Day, 2004. A day that shall forever be remembered as the day the unexpected happened: the 3rd largest earthquake ever recorded triggers the largest tsunami on record. 10-metre waves hit south-east Asia with incredible force and affected millions of families across the world.

The Impossible is the remarkable true story of one family in a million. The ordinary, middle-class Bennet family are on holiday over Christmas, staying in a resort in Khao Lak, Thailand. Their world is turned upside down and torn apart, and this is their impossible story of how they beat the odds; how they survive.

Ewan McGregor plays the distressed father trying to unite his family...
Ewan McGregor plays the distressed father trying to unite his family…

Any story is always better when it is a true one. The Impossible undoubtedly proves that rule. Any realistic disaster movie is made so compelling for the audience if they can relate to it, and if the story is based on truth then that goal is even more successfully reached. In a way, The Impossible is the story of every family caught up in the Boxing Day Tsunami; or, more broadly still, the story of what the experience would have been like for every family when placed in that situation. The difference is, of course, that this is one lucky family.

The story is a straight-forward one, and is not what makes the film excel. However, it doesn’t need a great ‘plot’ to be interesting- it’s interesting in the fact that it fits in that golden category: it is true. The magic is behind what is done with that story.

The film really brings home the horrors in being caught up in a tsunami
The film really brings home the horrors in being caught up in a tsunami

The acting in this film is brilliant. There are five principle characters: Maria Bennet (Naomi Watts), her husband Henry (Ewan McGregor) and their three sons (Tom Holland, Samuel Joslin, Oakley Pendergast). Watts and McGregor give realistic and often frightening realisations of their characters- two scared, separated parents with a single goal of uniting their family. Tom Holland, who plays Lucas, the eldest son, also gives an astounding performance as a brave young boy burdened with a heart-breaking task.

The other big selling point of this film is the effects. Any film re-enacting a 35ft tsunami is likely to be CGI-heavy, and this film pulls it off spectacularly. There is no sign of the approaching threat for the first 15 minutes of the film, so naturally you are on edge, waiting for the inevitable to happen. Yet, despite this, the speed and ferocity of it shocks and scares you still. It is brutal. This realism factor really adds a lot; it turned a good film into a great one. The rest of the underwater sequences are also brilliantly realised, giving the audience a fully immersive experience. It’s easy to forget that it isn’t just the sheer power of the water you are up against, it’s the debris as well. Short but graphic underwater scenes really drive home how lucky these people were to escape with their lives, let alone each other.

A lot of the film centres around the relationship between Maria Bennet and her eldest son, Lucas.
A lot of the film centres around the relationship between Maria Bennet and her eldest son, Lucas.

As in all great films, the situation exhibited in the story often has a much greater meaning, a much more general one. Despite the film being frightening, heart-breaking and often tear-jerking, it is ultimately uplifting and almost poetic. It’s a story of human resilience and our instincts of survival. It’s a story of courage, bravery and endurance. But most of all, and most importantly, it is a story that teaches us the importance of family, and the love that drives it.

So, is it worth watching The Impossible? Definitely- but it is impossible to watch without shedding a tear or two towards the end…

Trailer:

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Kung Fu Panda 2

Kung Fu Panda 2 focusses a lot on Po's origins

Kung Fu Panda 2 focusses a lot on Po’s origins
So, here goes: my first film review. I appreciate it’s not a new film, but sometimes old films need reviews more than new films, right? Please share your views below and give criticism where needed!

Directed by: Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Starring: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Gary Oldman, Dustin Hoffman, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu
Runtime: 90 minutes
Age Certificate: PG
Release: May 2011
Rating: 3.5 / 5

Synopsis

In the Valley of Peace, Po Ping is revelling in his fulfilled dreams as he serves as the fabled Dragon Warrior protecting his home with his heroes now his closest friends. However, Po and company learn that the murderous Lord Shen of Gongman City is threatening the land with a fearsome new weapon that could mean the end of kung fu. They attempt to stop him, but the panda is burdened with crippling memory flashbacks linked to this villain. Now with China in the balance, Po must learn about his past and find true inner peace against all opposition.

Since the release of the original film, Kung Fu Panda, in 2008, this franchise has become somewhat of a hit and has found its way onto childrens’ lunchboxes all around the world. It’s been given it’s own TV series on Nickelodeon and, in 2011, a second film aptly named Kung Fu Panda 2.

As sequels go, this is a great film. The plot is completely separate from the first film, with a new and spectacularly devious villain (Lord Shen, voiced brilliantly by Gary Oldman), and a new storyline. This plot touches back to the first film as it answers a question that was never resolved initially: where did Po come from, why is his “Dad” a goose and, perhaps most importantly, where are all the pandas? I thought this was great as the combination of a great plot and a personal motive for the hero always makes for a great film.

Lord Shen the peacock is the new villain
Lord Shen the peacock is the new villain

There are a few new characters introduced, including the new villain Lord Shen, the mysterious Soothsayer and Po’s reluctant new allies, Master Ox and Master Croc. New characters plus a new location (Shen’s stronghold city, Gongmen) is always great in a second film (especially a kid’s film), although the sheer volume of characters that tag along behind Po can sometimes be a bit chaotic and gives some of them not a lot to do.

The backdrop of Ancient China is unique among Dreamworks animation films and is a nicely refreshing location, making every shot look like an oil painting. This is backed up by some great sweeping olde-timey-Chinese music!

The animations as always are brilliantly colourful, meaning there’s never a dull moment on the screen (there’s so much going on in the fight scenes- it’s really a tribute to the best of animation!)

The Five are back in action!
The Five are back in action!

Overall, this is a great film to watch as a family. It’s action-packed, fast-moving and genuinely funny. We’re plunged straight into a nice plot which has a proverb-like Dreamworks moral hidden beneath it of finding “inner peace” by connecting with nature. And there’s the small matter of a big revelation in the very closing seconds of the film (no spoilers here)! I think this is a great sequel that will undoubtedly carry this popular franchise forwards into a later film(s).

Kung Fu Panda 3 is scheduled to be released on December 23rd 2015, followed by a further 3 films in the franchise.