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The Impossible: Harrowing Story of Human Endurance
When the Indian Ocean Tsunami hit the coasts of South East Asia in December 2004, hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives and millions were left homeless. It's one of the worst natural disasters recorded in recent history and the devastation caused goes beyond anyone's imagination or understanding.
The Impossible, an astounding true story of a family swept apart by the horrific events, is captivating and visually engaging – it’ll stir even the coldest of hearts.
The story follows the Bennett family; Maria (Watts), Henry (McGregor) and their three sons Lucas (Holland), Simon (Pendergast) and Thomas (Joslin), as they make their way to Thailand for their Christmas holidays. They like what they see the family quickly settles in and starts enjoying their time in the sun. Everything seems to be going well; the boys are woken up on Christmas day by their parents who video their boys' wide-eyed faces on their hand-held camcorder.
Unfortunately, the joy is short-lived. Come Boxing Day, they, and all the other guests, are lind-sided by ninety eight foot-high waves that hit the shore, swallowing everything in their way. The family gets torn and swept apart from each other by the deadly forces of the water, now awash with floating cars, lounge chairs, bicycles and other dangerous debris.
The Impossible is the first English-language feature from acclaimed Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona. Working from a script by Sergio G. Sanchez, Bayona masterfully elevates this true survival story above any other with his portrayal of the storm and its atrocious aftermath.
The tsunami outbreak sequence creates a demoralising sense of the unknown and as we get taken in and out of the muddy waters.
The repercussions are even worse than the storm itself; the excruciating pain of desperately searching for loved ones is heartbreaking. The celebration of the human spirit is commendable and the sense of how people come together in a crisis, offering each other a shoulder to cry on, is inspirational. There are no good guys or bad guys; this is Mother Nature at its worst and the will to survive is strong.
The shortcomings are few; the wave breaking scene might have been a little exaggerated for the big screen and the near misses and hospital misunderstandings a little conventional and predictable. However, all of these small flaws don't have an overall affect on the outcome of the film.
The Impossible wouldn't be possible without its talented cast. McGregor has rarely been this good; his desperate and grief-stricken face is compelling and tear-jerking, while Watts’ general likeability shines as she digs deep for the role of Maria.
The star of this tragic and inspirational story is Holland with his marvellous portrayal of Lucas; a stubborn pre-teen who is being forced to grow up much too soon. Pulling the audience in, Holland's innocence and desire to survive is touching.
Just like its topic, The Impossible comes at us unexpectedly. It's a tormenting and inspirational story that plays as a powerful tribute to the thousands of souls lost on that tragic day.
Marking the fifth instalment in the Underworld franchise, Blood Wars rests in the hands of a first-time feature director, Anna Foerster who, although managing to create a few notable moments of action, fails to bring any ingenuity or freshness to its now exhausted vampires-versus-werewolves narrative.
The story begins with a brief recap of events from the last four films where we learn that everyone’s favourite vampire death dealer, Selena (once again fully embraced by the leather-clad, forever sulking Kate Beckinsale) has been betrayed and banished by her kind.
Still trying to cope with the pain of having given up her vampire-werewolf hybrid daughter Eve for everyone’s safety, Selena is surprised to be summoned back into the vampire community - now led by the scheming Semira (Pulver) - who wish to make use of her skills in order to train the new generation of fighters, while still escaping her own chasers and searching for her daughter.
Taking quite a bit of time to get going, Blood Wars – written by Cory Goodman – is filled with lots of politics and nonsensical dialogue between characters who seemingly have a hard time in conveying any emotion, thus, making it all that difficult for the viewer to get invested in what they have to say. Drenched in a seemingly cold, metallic-blue tint, Blood Wars – although certainly not heavy on the action front – does manage to offer a couple relatively exciting action set-pieces. However, considering that this is a vampires-verses-werewolves kind of a movie, there just isn’t enough of that that specific mythology to set it apart from any other action movies – no wooden stakes or silver bullets to see here folks, just plenty of swirling swords and guns that can’t hurt anyone.
Another problem here is that the mythology behind the franchise in general – something the keeps spinning around aimlessly with no real focus or ending in sight – is a little hard to take seriously.
All of the characters, including the PVC-wearing Kate Beckinsale, who thinks that scowling her way through the scenes will get her anywhere, are all without an ounce of charm or personality – which sadly, brings us to a conclusion that there is no fun to be had in this rather forgettable cinematic offering and generic continuation of a franchise which, perhaps, might be ready now to close its doors and call it a day.
What can you say about the seemingly unstoppable force that is Nicolas Cage that hasn’t been said before? A magnet for the most troubled, muddled and just generally exasperating films to hit cinemas in the last five years, his latest work in USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage does nothing to change his fortunes.
Despite being based on one a true story that has all the makings of a war epic, the Mario Van Peebles-directed USS Indianapolis bleeds all and any gravitas and emotion out of its incredibly dramatic source material.
The story goes as thus: the eponymous US Navy cruiser delivered the first parts of the atomic bomb that would go on to devastate Hiroshima, before being torpedoed by the Japanese navy, leaving some 300 of the 1000-plus crewmen dead and the rest stranded in shark-infested waters. Said sharks, along with dehydration and salt water poisoning, leave just over 300 survivors to be rescued.
At the centre of the ensuing hubbub is Cage’s Captain McVay, who many, very unreasonably, blame for the death of the 700 or so victims – so you see, it’s a very complex story, but one that very quickly descend into and exercise on how not to make a war film.
The occasional laughable CGI aside, Cage is oddly sedate, bordering on placid, in his role – yes, the central character is possibly the flattest element of the film, while seasoned actors, Tom Sizemore and Thomas Jane, are given little to chew on in their respective roles.
While starting exactly as one would expect a war film to, the wreckage part of the film turns into cheap disaster movie, before turning into a courtroom drama in the final act. It’s a muddle of a film that fails to really drum to the beat of McVay’s potentially brilliant arc as a firm commander that eventually buckles under the unjust pressure he receives back at home.
Bad CGI, a mammoth two hour-plus running time and Nic Cage can be forgiven, but what’s at the heart of this film’s mess is the script. Jumping from event to event, plotline to plotline, at a whim, with Cage’s soft murmured speech used to pave over the transitions, USS Indianapolis’s pacing is that of a film hurrying to stuff as many ideas and threads as possible – expect that’s not the case. Van Peebles tries so hard to build the layers of an epic, when, actually, all he needed to do was tell this simple but stirring story as it is.