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Generally favorable reviews- based on 252 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 10 out of 252

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  1. Sep 1, 2014
    This film made the impossible actually possible for us. This is one of the most moving films I've ever seen. Naomi Watts and her son, played by Tom Holland, give truly gifted performances.
  2. Dec 22, 2013
    With dramatic disaster sequences and many truly heartfelt moments, The Impossible does "the impossible": it creates a disaster movie that is actually realistic and has a heart. Although it may get a little "Hollywood" in the final third, the movie is forgiven by its many positive aspects.
  3. Nov 16, 2013
    The Impossible is one of those movies I could watch time and time again. I watched the movie once a day for four days. The reason the movie was so intriguing to me was the story of love, faith, and facing what seemed impossible as a family. The movie was suspenseful and kept me on the edge of my seat. There were multiple times where I wanted to cry out of sadness and cry tears of joy. The Impossible had many elements needed to create an incredible movie.

    The acting also impressed me. Tom Holland, Samuel Joslin, and Oaklee Pendergast did a great job at playing the roles of he kids. They did a great job displaying true emotions and demonstrating love for one another. I was very impressed with Naomi Watts. She did an extraordinary job having to act many different emotions and being real in the unfortunate circumstances. I definitely recommend The Impossible.
  4. Sep 1, 2013
    There's a feeling of triumph and bittersweet emotion when watching 'The Impossible', tragic yet triumphant on various levels of filmmaking, acting and adapting a true story of one of the most tragic events in history, the Indian Ocean tsunami that changed the lives of many caught off-guard in this natural catastrophe. We hear the story of Maria Bennett, who is based on survivor María Belón, who recounted her story for the film, where we see Maria and her family visiting Thailand on their Christmas holiday, their common worries and life problems are swept away as the family is torn apart by the devastating tsunami. Naomi Watts gives a spellbinding performance as Maria, who manages to find her eldest son, Lucas (Tom Holland) nearby, but cannot see her husband or other two boys anywhere. From here we see the brute force and devastation that an 'Act of God' can deliver, injuries and sickness aside, the destruction of family is an act that is beyond repair, especially when nothing can be done to stop it.
    It's Watts and Holland who masterfully command the screen as a mother and son brought closer together by loss, young Lucas must bear seeing his mother in some very vulnerable situations, but manages to help others around him, accepting that his father and brothers may be dead.
    But it has been shot with such clarity and depth that we get one story after the other, where Lucas is in a terrible place, but his father Henry (Ewan McGregor) is also in a terrible place, more so because of how helpless he feels that he cannot find his wife and eldest son, these three stars each give performances that demand perfection and respect.
    The film shows how a situation brings the common man together, through hope and sometimes heartache, the film is a testament to the good inside everyone, something we see throughout the film as strangers from various parts of the world band together in the face of danger, and it is also a testament at how differences and problems are put away when something natural can affect the lives of everyone in the same way as the person next to them. The title hold relevance to many aspects of the film, the unlikelihood of survival, the mission of finding survivors, the devastation caused, but also the bond that can be shared in times of need, highly improbable, but not impossible.
    This is an honest and detailed film, which is shot in an emotional sense of being there, where we can relate with terror and angst with these characters, and revel in their hopeful good fortunes, the film takes pride in cataloging an horrific incident with such force and thrill, but also showing human nature winning out.
  5. Aug 31, 2013
    WOW!! Awesome!!! It's one of the best films I have ever seen!! I was ready to cry in the end. I enjoyed it!!! Bravo!! Excellent!!! Epic and stunning!!!!!
  6. Jul 22, 2013
    Gripping, interesting plot, great actors, especially Naomi my fav, great graphics and special effects, loved it. Most intriguing is that it is based on true events. I think some of it may have been a little over scaled, like how the med staff, and natives generally were so polite and caring... I still don't get how did the kids manage to survive on a tree, how did they climb it so fast, in such horrific and fast paced circumstances? Expand
  7. Jul 21, 2013
    The Impossible was one of the most suffocating and powerful emotional dramas I've ever seen and the fact that it is a true story constantly plays in the back of your mind while watching, effectively multiplying the emotion and drama even more. The acting was incredible and the special effects, especially the tsunami scene in the beginning, were fantastic. Having seen almost most of the critically acclaimed films in the 2012 year, I can now say that they made a mistake in giving the Best Actress in a Leading Role to Jennifer Lawrence for her role in The Silver Linings Playbook. That award should've gone to Naomi Watts for her incredible and moving performance in this film. Lawrence did great but Watts was amazing, key difference in my opinion. The Academy's blunder aside, The Impossible is a movie that is definitely worth a watch. Expand
  8. Jul 14, 2013
    The impossible is just one of those films that reminds us of how small our lives are and how important it is to not take it for granted with pride,greed ,cruelty... but to be good, love....
  9. Jun 17, 2013
    A total "wow!". This film touches the deepest of emotions when it comes to family and love. This is unforgettable in every aspect. Best performance from Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts. Excellent screenplay, cinematography, sound, and editing. Possibly the best film of 2012 and the-one-to-beat for the decade.
  10. Jun 9, 2013
    Intense & riveting story of survival. Bayona recreates the punishing & deadly tsunami in visually impressive & gut-wrenching fashion. Watts is extraordinary, but Holland’s heroic performance is captivating. -MN
  11. May 5, 2013
    Bring your Kleenex this film will have you an emotional mess. To imagine in the blink of an eye your swept up by water and you have no idea where your family is or if their even alive would be scary. This is a great movie that is really hard to watch.
  12. Feb 15, 2013
    I had low expectations going in but this movie was phenomenal. Such powerful storytelling found in very small moments and superb acting. The disaster scenes are not overdone and this movie does not contain all the cliches that you would expect from a movie of this subject. I don't know why Naomi Watts isn't considered a front-runner for her performance. It was breathtaking.
  13. Feb 9, 2013
    This is the most haunting and realistic portrayal of a natural disaster in a movie, that I have ever seen. Naomi Watts and the young actor who plays her eldest son are wonderful. They bring such emotion to the scenes. Maybe I'm a sap, but I cried at the tear-jerking parts. It worked for me and moved fast. One particular scene, where Naomi Watts' character is unconscious during surgery is amazing---how they filmed this movie astounds me. Expand
  14. Jan 25, 2013
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Inspired and deeply affecting, notwithstanding some of the churlish notices the film received from snobbish, politically correct critics at the New York Times, The New Yorker et al. One suspects their Liberal dander was aroused because 'The Impossible' depicted the (true) story of a white family that survived a Third World disaster in which People of Color died by the hundreds of thousands. Ignore these intellectually dishonest reviewers. As an achievement in art, 'The Impossible' was excellent in every way -- the best film I've seen so far in 2013. Expand
  15. Jan 25, 2013
    The one thing consistent with all disaster films is you can never sit comfortably within the opening scenes because you often know what is coming and you just can bear the thought of it. J.A. Bayona's The Impossible is a picture that captures a disaster all too realistically, as it depicts the tsunami that devastated Southeast Asia in 2004, killing an upwards of 300,000, destroying homes, soiling towns, and leaving families and memories in drenched and irreplaceable shambles. The thought of the last thing one sees is a wall of filthy, rushing water coming towards you at a breakneck speed is unthinkable.

    When the credits finally rolled, after what seemed to be an eternity (in a good way), there was not a shred of movement from any of the eight people in the theater. We all sat and watched half the credits for about a minute before exiting. It's great to see even in a rushed society, sometimes people need to simply stop just to take something greatly moving in, before carrying on with their next line of business. I doubt the film escaped their minds during the rest of their day.
  16. Jan 22, 2013
    The movie was gripping from the start. The acting was so incredible. I could easily connect with the characters. Definitely a must see movie, one of the best I have ever seen.
  17. Jan 21, 2013
    This is my first movie review I have ever done. I watched the film looking for a "normal" movie. Instead of that I Realized that this is one of the best movies I´ve ever seen in my life. Very touching and breathtaking.
  18. Jan 20, 2013
    "The Impossible" had me so emotionally invested that I felt I was witnessing the 2004 tragedy first hand. J.A. Bayona has successfully directed the greatest disaster film to date.
  19. Jan 16, 2013
    "The Impossible" is based on a true story of one family's battle for survival against all odds. The intense tragedy that leads them to this point has changed the way it is now portrayed and thought about. Its a deep insight to what really went on in Thailand back in 2006. There are many scenes throughout that really pull on your heart strings. The iconic acting from Naomi Watts makes the audience deeply sympathise with every victim involved. However, there is a happy ending to the film, that really is the impossible. Not once has a film been so depressing and so uplifting at the same time. Leaving a lasting effect on each audience member. I'd recommend this film to everyone, as its one you will never forget. Expand
  20. Jan 15, 2013
    Absolutely stunning. It was the first film I saw to be released in 2013 (in the United States) and already I can see it as being the best. Many times, I don't fall for attempts for sympathy in movies. This was entirely different. Prior to seeing this movie, I watched a documentary about the Tsunami which primarily seemed to primarily focus on various people who were vacationing to various countries in the Indian Ocean. It was brutal, sad, and disturbing. This movie being based on a true story of a foreign family that visits a resort in Thailand, it was like I was watching a dramatized version of the documentary all over again, and because of the reality of the situation, the movie was incredibly powerful in its emotion. I can easily say that this may be the saddest movie I've ever seen, and also one of the most tense. There isn't really a moment in the movie past the twenty minute mark where you won't feel at least a decent urge to cry, and honestly I'm surprised I didn't show as much outward emotion as I did - When I left the theater, I had a headache because of it. Every actor and actress in the movie did a stunning job in portraying realistic emotion and desperation, creating a sense of real fear, grief, loss, and sorrow. This movie will affect you. It certainly affected me. Expand
  21. Jan 15, 2013
    I am not to mourn, and this movie tears me out. With a message of love and family, this film proves to be a jewel of the tragedy and drama; giving us harrowing scenes with Naomi Watts, proving it is an Oscar nominee.
  22. Jan 13, 2013
    Very Gripping movie, will bring tears to your eye's ! i was hooked from start to finish. a must watch for 2013 !!!!! its unbelivable this actually happened to this family
  23. Jan 9, 2013
    WOW! 10/10 Such an emotionally evocative film.. I love all the actors! by watching this movie you can feel that your lucky that your in safe now and you should value every moment in your life..perfect for me 10/10...
  24. Jan 9, 2013
    Director J A Bayona's vision for this film is simply spectacular. It manages to be extremely emotionally enticing, authentic, visually brilliant, and rooted in showcasing humanity at its finest. The entire acting assemble was flawless, but it was the scenes between Naomi Watts and Tom Holland that made this film so beautiful and real.
  25. Jan 9, 2013
    Beginning with a terrifying dramatization of 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami which is considered to be one of the worst disasters of the history, The Impossible is an uplifting and exceptional story of a family that survives the disasters but they lose each other for some time, they don't know where to find each other, obviously, because of large casualties and also because one cannot think properly after encountering the most shocking thing they would haven't even imagined. The story of Belon family is based on a true story of the survivors and I must say that this is an exceptional piece of story penned into the film. The cast members especially Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor give phenomenal performances, so powerful that it makes you cry at times. Their characters seem believable, you can get inspired by them, it doesn't feel like there is no development in their characters. Hats off to Juan Antonio Bayona for such an outstanding direction. From beginning to the end; everything from the occurrence of the disaster to the reunion of the family; everything from the screenplay and camera work to the editing; everything is flawless, perfect, emotional and motivating. The Impossible is clearly one of the finest and the best films of 2012. IT IS AN ABSOLUTE TEARJERKER. A MUST WATCH! Expand
  26. Jan 9, 2013
    As a drama film far better than Avatar & Co., mostly due to three reasons: The whole film is based on a true story and, of course, an actual event, which makes it so threedimensional. Secondly, there are amazing actors, especially an astonishing Tom Holland, who will surely get a row of offers after his critcally performance. And thirdly the amazing story and enactment of the fatal 26. December 2004, which is geniusly directedand well written. If you watch it, bring enough tissue with you!!! Expand
  27. Jan 8, 2013
    A harrowing account of one family's desperate attempts to survive a devastating Tsunami. Based on true events that happened on Boxing Day in Thailand 2004, The Impossible offers an almost unbearably realistic depiction of the catastrophe. Director J A Bayona utilises a variety of camera set ups to immerse us into the heart of the story, whilst at other times allowing us to just observe the resultant chaos. The cinematography and special effects are amazingly good and the music score and sound stirringly compliment the visuals. Heartfelt performances by Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor and Tom Holland add pathos to the proceedings. On the evidence I'm now totally convinced that this wonderfully intense movie experience is as close as I ever want to get to a real Tsunami. Expand
  28. Jan 7, 2013
    The Impossible is based on a true story of a family who were vacationing in Thailand during the 2004 Tsunami. From everything I've read, other than changing their nationality from Spanish to British, the story is almost spot on as told by the mother of the family. That's why accusations of coincidentality I've heard leveled at this movie are far off base. After a few scenes setting up a loving although imperfect family dynamic, the movie veers headlong into tragedy. The minutes picturing the tsunami and family members dragged along by its force are incredibly visceral. I found myself wincing multiple times. However, after these harrowing minutes, the movie goes on to show the incredible will to survive and how tragedy can bring out the best in people. The story that unfolds is both emotionally satisfying and bittersweet. Before seeing The Impossible I had mostly heard the acting was wonderful and the politics execrable. Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor both do great work, but the real star is Tom Holland who also has to hold up for more screen than any other character. As for the politics, the goal of the film is obviously to tell the story of a single family who were vacationing in a resort area of Thailand. Therefore, it is unfair to accuse the film of not showing the thousands of Sri Lankans who were also killed. That being said, because of these accusations I expected to only see whites almost throughout the movie. However, this was not the case. One of the most heart-wrenching scenes in a heart-wrenching movie were the scenes of lost children without parents who were a mixture of races. How could anyone see this and accuse the movie of thinking only whites were the only victims of the disaster?

    While not a movie for people with weak stomachs, The Impossible is well worth the time of anyone who is interested in the triumphs that can come out of tragedies.
  29. Jan 7, 2013
    The 5 members of this family seem real. I teared up several times. Kudos to the director who gets realistic performances from all the actors. It is particularly difficult to get good performances from children but he managed it. It is Naomi Watts, however, that is the centerpiece. The main crux of the film follows her and the oldest son on the path to safety. The Tsunami seemed real, and there is a cast of thousands around the hospital. Not sure how they filmed it but it is quite an achievement. I'm not sure I would ever want to see the film again - much of it is hard to watch, but overall a very affective film that I thought about long after the final credits. Lastly, I would like to mention that the entire movie was given away in the trailer I saw for this movie which is a shame. There is an art to making a trailer that makes you want to see the movie without giving too much away and more and more movies are giving away too much of the plot. Expand
  30. Jan 7, 2013
    The Impossible is one of the best films of 2012. Never has a movie been so depressing and at the same time so uplifting. Naomi watts does an incredible job, but Lucas, her son, is the star of the film. A movie that should be seen, remembered, and not forgotten.

Generally favorable reviews - based on 42 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 42
  2. Negative: 2 out of 42
  1. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Jan 24, 2013
    Movies are good at this sort of brute physicality, but the trouble with The Impossible is that is also tells a rather banal story. [28 Jan. 2012, p.81]
  2. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Jan 4, 2013
    This is an affecting and emotional drama about the strength of the human spirit.
  3. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Jan 4, 2013
    Yet as fine as she and Ewan McGregor are as the parents, Tom Holland stands out as eldest son Lucas, a slightly sullen teen who learns to put other people before himself.