The real images of tsunamis surging across landscapes — sweeping buildings, vehicles, even trees before them — have been terrifying enough, especially when you focus on how steadily and relentlessly the water is.
But making those images even more powerful is the realization that people are in the waves' path — and it is some of those people who give The Impossible its dramatic force.
The movie, based on a real family's story, stars Naomi Watts as Maria, a woman who has gone with her husband (Ewan McGregor) and children on a trip to Thailand. The location is idyllic, and it appears that all is right for the family in this luxurious, peaceful setting. Without warning, a tsunami strikes, putting everyone in peril, inflicting unexpected pain and forcing an intense fight for survival.
Especially on Blu-ray, the tsunami is as vivid and inescapable as a classic screen villain — and as lacking in remorse as such villains are. That puts an even greater burden on the actors to convey the terror of the moment, and their determination to endure it. Watts is the centerpiece, and she is quite marvelous; she was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance.
Extras include audio commentary by the movie's writer, Sergio G. Sánchez; director J.A. Bayona, producer Belén Atienza and María Belón, the inspiration for Watts' character. There also are brief segments about the casting and the making of The Impossible.
The Impossible retails for $29.95 on DVD and $39.99 on Blu-ray.
These DVDs were also released this week:
Films: Gangster Squad; Promised Land; Happy People: A Year in the Taiga; A Haunted House; Pawn; Richard III (1955, The Criterion Collection); Any Day Now; The Central Park Five (Ken Burns documentary, PBS); Last Summer Won't Happen (1968, documentary on the 1960s anti-war movement); Family Weekend; Pierre Etaix (a collection of all the French director/actor's films, including five features, The Criterion Collection); Thale (Norway); God's Country; Cold Prey II (2008, Norway); Electric Button (Moon & Cherry) (2004, Japan); Looney Tunes Super Stars Sylvester and Hippety Hopper; Cheech and Chong's Animated Movie.
TV series: Masterpiece: Mr. Selfridge (PBS); Merlin: The Complete Fifth Season; Maverick: The Complete Second Season (1958-59).
THE WASHINGTON POST